When an American-based energy company approached Equinix Professional Services (EPS) seeking an assessment of its IT portfolio, the company received trusted advice on migrating 800+ applications to Microsoft Azure, as well as expert guidance through each step of its Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) transformation journey.
Like many companies, the customer was eager to realize the benefits that cloud computing can deliver above and beyond cost savings, including improved agility, expanded business networks and enhanced decision making. Moving to the cloud also brings risks and unexpected complications. The customer needed help establishing IT governance processes, structures to oversee cloud consumption and costs, cloud access and permissions, security and monitoring, and metrics reporting. As the customer undertook a massive network transformation, it needed to face many big decisions and avoid some pitfalls. EPS provided insight and guidance to lead the company through its cloud journey.
Cloud computing involves virtualization, dynamically moving workloads between on-premises and cloud platforms, and an increased reliance on third parties for many types of IT functions. This makes well-thought-out and documented processes, policies and procedures even more important than in a more static and manual environment.
During the customer’s cloud migration workshop, EPS discussed governance policies to establish before beginning its Azure cloud migration. EPS helped the customer develop and implement policies within its existing Azure subscriptions for the overall Azure Enterprise account, including the following:
- Enabling IT managers to control, document and classify consumption rates.
- Synchronizing all user identities into Azure with Active Directory Domain Services (ADDS), using Azure Active Directory Connect (AAD Connect).
- Achieving data protection and retention through backup policies that enforce regulatory compliance, redundancy and availability.
- Establishing network management and monitoring the network through defined policies around resource logging.
Cloud migration was the CIO’s top priority – moving away from on-premises operations to enhance operational efficiency and cost structure by leveraging Microsoft Azure. EPS helped the customer address any network latency issues by building and expanding its existing hubs in the Southwest and Midwest and implementing Azure ExpressRoute via Equinix Cloud Exchange Fabric™ (ECX Fabric™). The results were outstanding. As the customer moved SAP workloads from its California-based West Coast hub to hubs in the Midwest and Pacific Northwest, it reduced its latency from 95 milliseconds to 25 milliseconds. Better yet, the implementation didn’t require any planned network downtime.
Phased network design optimizes interconnection
As the company decommissioned additional on-premises data centers, EPS offered valuable insight into network peering and design. EPS explained hybrid network considerations by establishing Equinix Performance Hub® for its IT infrastructure and helped design the point-to-point circuits through those hubs that would optimize the routing between data centers and Azure locations. Because the customer uses applications with public-facing components, it needed to set up a zoned network that addressed trusted and untrusted user groups. EPS designed and implemented the network design, determining which apps could reside in each area.
With hubs in Canada and the U.S., the company was mindful of data sovereignty concerns. The Equinix global footprint enables the customer to securely store private data locally, while making the data available internationally over the EPS-designed Equinix Performance Hub network.
Like many companies in the energy sector, the customer relies on an application that renders a graphical representation of geothermal energy deposits. Effectively capturing this information is crucial, with high dependencies on applications using graphical processing units (GPU). For the customer, this meant big storage and data transfer demands consisting of images and other graphics totaling more than five petabytes. As a top reseller of Microsoft services, EPS advised the customer on the best way to move the workload to the cloud, avoiding a “lift and shift approach,” as well as provided insights into emerging technologies, such as new products in the pipeline from Equinix customer Nvidia.
Aware that the regional limits on cloud resources introduce latency when accessing the storage files, EPS advised that the best strategy was to implement filers at the Midwest hub, meeting the need for storage at the edge and improving network performance. EPS also helped the company enable cloud-agnostic operations for future cloud deployments.
While migrating workloads to the cloud reduces overall costs, storage at the edge reduces the expense of accessing the data, especially when it is moved across regions and country borders. EPS leveraged its Microsoft partnership and expertise to implement Azure Data Box, a physical appliance that facilitates and schedules data moves. Data Box provides a secure, tamper-resistant method for the quick and simple transfer of data to Azure. After the transfer, Data Box is returned to the Azure Data Center, where it is uploaded to Azure before the device is securely erased.
EPS guided the customer through the launch of Azure Site Recovery (ASR), assisting with the migration of data and processors and resolving some routing issues that were interfering with the backups. EPS also conducted a thorough knowledge transfer on ASR. The EPS-created training videos ensured that the customer’s team understood how ARS was implemented and was empowered to maintain it.
EPS provided guidance for moving workloads out of the data centers in Canada and the Midwest to Azure. Bringing a deep knowledge on how to optimize routing between on-premises sites and CSPs, the EPS team explained how hybrid networking operations worked and set up the peering and design of the customer’s point-to-point circuits.
EPS engineers also brought their knowledge of Platform Equinix® to improve throughput to SAP HANA Large Instances (HLI) workloads, optimizing the network design. Other major application migrations included SharePoint, SQL servers and JBoss Enterprise Application Platform.
Platform Equinix Enables Hybrid Network Solutions
Staffing agility and knowledge transfer
While EPS is a trusted adviser, navigating customers through each step of its network transformation, knowledge transfer is a key component to a successful engagement. EPS provided the guidance and documentation necessary for the company to manage the various segments of its cloud transition and served as an escalation point when questions and issues arose. EPS also provided training videos to ensure that new team members would be able to take on the management of the customer’s new network configurations. EPS helped the company make an investment not only in its infrastructure, but also in its human resources by transforming them into cloud experts and empowering them to maintain and manage its newly transformed network.
Working side by side with EPS, this energy industry customer achieved its cloud objectives:
- Maintain security and control through cloud governance policies.
- Strike a balance between private and public data needs through a hybrid cloud solution.
- Resolve storage and backup challenges that are unique to the energy industry.
- Reduce on-premises operations by migrating data and workloads to the cloud.
- Implement a network transformation that satisfies current and future cloud objectives.
- Educate resources on cloud strategy and networks.
Are you with an energy industry enterprise that needs to develop a winning cloud strategy? Check out our two-day, intensive Cloud Readiness Workshop to see how we can guide you through your cloud journey!
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