Pironet NDH modernises IT environment of the regional association in NRW
(PresseBox) (Cologne, )Pironet NDH has modernised the IT infrastructure of the state association of the Johanniter-Unfall-Hilfe ambulance services in North Rhine-Westphalia and expanded it into a Private Cloud. A 10-gigabit Ethernet connection between the server and storage components now ensures high-speed access to the applications in the in-house Private Cloud. The first-aid organisation still operates the virtualised IT environment in its own data centre in Cologne. From there the Johanniter-Unfall-Hilfe provides ERP and groupware applications for 300 local, district and regional associations throughout Germany.
"The Private Cloud has several advantages for us," explains Roland Deuss, Head of IT at the NRW association: "The modernised infrastructure is considerably more stable and faster, and login procedures and load times have been appreciably reduced. At the same time our system environment has become more straightforward and thus easier to manage."
Katharina Gülpen, Managing Director of Pironet NDH Enterprise Solutions GmbH, adds: "With the Private Cloud the Johanniter-Unfall-Hilfe profits from the flexibility of a genuine Cloud environment. But at the same time it retains total data sovereignty and autonomy over the operation of its systems - the solution of choice for ever more small to medium-sized enterprises and organisations today."
Ethernet turbo for the data centre
As server hardware, the Johanniter-Unfall-Hilfe uses highly-available systems of the Cisco UCS (Unified Computing System) series. The vSphere 5 Enterprise Plus Edition from VMware is employed for virtualization. A further focus in the IT modernisation was the switch to a faster data connection between the servers and the storage systems. A 10-gigabit Ethernet bus based on Cisco Nexus switches now ensures high-speed operation of the IT environment. The new network has also enabled the organisation to cut the number of patch cables by over 300 and to significantly simplify the previously confusing data centre infrastructure network.
Central data storage with integrated virtualization
The Johanniter-Unfall-Hilfe virtualises its central storage using the vFiler technology from NetApp. This permits individual storage units to be relocated to standby systems during ongoing operation. Downtimes as a result of maintenance work are thus a thing of the past. Another reason for choosing NetApp was the provider's SnapLock solution. This provides media with a complete audit trail on the basis of proven, cost-effective hard disk technology which allows the Johanniter-Unfall-Hilfe to archive its email inventories in an auditable manner.
Duplication is the best approach
The organisation backs up its data in two ways: The NetApp solution SnapVault regularly backs up snapshots of the main memory on a second storage system where the data is stored according to versions. To save storage space, the snapshots only contain the latest changes to the preceding version. Nevertheless, the administrator can later always access the full backup.
In addition, the state association also maintains a second backup system which enables the Johanniter-Unfall-Hilfe to perform disaster recovery for its IT operations. To do this, the productive storage is mirrored with a time delay to a standby data centre belonging to the organisation. "If individual systems or, in the worst-case scenario, the entire data centre should crash, within a quarter of an hour we can restart the most important applications at the standby location," explains Erwin Schäfer, commercial head of the NRW state association. "All the locations are then operational within just a short time," adds Mr Schäfer.
Turbo for data access
To prevent any bottlenecks when the Private Cloud is accessed at larger Johanniter locations, Pironet NDH has also installed WAN accelerators from Riverbed (WAN = Wide Area Network) on site. These accelerators temporarily store data loaded from the Cloud locally at the location so that it is available more quickly when it is called up again. Furthermore, the Riverbed solution also recognises intelligently what types of documents a user calls. If the user opens a Word document, for example, the accelerator loads the entire file at once, thus avoiding time-consuming reloading. "Since then there have been hardly any faults or delays in data access or when logging in," says Head of IT Roland Deuss. "By and large our staff can today work considerably more easily with the groupware and ERP applications," he adds to summarise the situation.
About the Johanniter-Unfall-Hilfe
The Johanniter-Unfall-Hilfe e. V. has been active in a wide variety of social and charitable sectors for 60 years. It follows the tradition of the Protestant Order of Saint John, whose main concern has for centuries been help from person to person. With more than 14,000 full-time members of staff, some 30,000 active volunteers and over 1.4 million sustaining members, the Johanniter-Unfall-Hilfe is one of the biggest first-aid organisations in Europe.