Case Studies

Asian Paints supports application landscape and global distribution network

Asian Paints is India’s largest and Asia’s third largest
paint company today with revenues of Rs 77.06 billion ($ 1.39 billion).
Throughout this decade, its domestic business grew rapidly as a result of
increasing demand from Asian Paints’ growing domestic and international
distribution networks. Today, the company operates in 17 countries and has 24
paint manufacturing facilities in the world, servicing consumers in more than
65 countries.

Challenge

Asian Paints is India’s largest and Asia’s third largest
paint company today with revenues of Rs 77.06 billion ($ 1.39 billion).
Throughout this decade, its domestic business grew rapidly as a result of
increasing demand from Asian Paints’ growing domestic and international
distribution networks. Today, the company operates in 17 countries and has 24
paint manufacturing facilities in the world, servicing consumers in more than
65 countries.

Challenge

The speed and scope of Asian Paints’ growth left its data
center trying to catch up. Asian Paints had successfully consolidated its
operations and moved to a centralized ERP solution, but higher data volumes and
business expansion led to a greater need for a scalable, high throughput
network infrastructure.

Solution

Asian Paints solidified its network core and added scalable
and reliable switching capacity by deploying the Dell Force10 C150 modular
chassis and subsequently upgrading to the C300 modular chassis to support its
growing application landscape and its expanding global distribution channels.

Dell Force10 C300 is at the forefront of the Asian Paints
data center. It is responsible for interconnecting all the company’s
application systems with a network latency of under 5 micro seconds

Rapid expansion
creates IT challenges

More than a decade ago, Asian Paints transitioned from
running decentralized custom-built software to support its operations by
adopting more centralized packaged applications, such as SAP R/3 for its
transaction backbone, the i2 suite for supply chain planning and a host of
other packages. While it created a significant number of additional
possibilities to implement systems and cross-system integration, the rapidly
growing application landscape led to higher data volumes. The centralization
also created a new hue of criticality to its application and network
infrastructure.

Diby Chiriyamkandath, Manager of Network Infrastructure at
Asian Paints, believes that in its eagerness to implement and integrate new
functionality to help its employees gain more unified information, the network
infrastructure in the data center was not up to speed.

Over time, its data center LAN architecture was stressed and
the IT staff’s confidence in solving problems was eroding. Today, the company’s
data center is responsible for the arduous task of hosting all of Asian Paints’
application systems and includes approximately 350 physical and virtual
servers, as well as firewalls, VPN concentrators, IP telephony servers and
Internet proxies.

Approximately 4,000 end-users from remote offices connect to
the data center on WAN links to access the hosted applications. Staff also
supports multiple connectivity options, such as approximately 300 MPLS and
point-to-point private WAN links, 3G wireless connectivity to tablet devices,
as well as IPsec and SSL VPNs.

Feeling a sense of urgency to tackle these immediate issues,
implement a robust and secure architecture, as well as provision capacity for
the coming 24-36 months, Asian Paints wanted to solidify its network core by
deploying a more robust switching capability.

Requirements

To meet the growing needs of the business and have that
capacity to provision for the future, Asian Paints had distinct requirements to
ensure network performance, reliability and scalability.

From a performance perspective, Asian Paints required line
rate speed to prevent any kind of network bottleneck as well as a nonintrusive
way to analyze network traffic.

“We also needed the network to live up to the “always-on”
expectation that a rapidly growing business like ours had. Since a single
switching chassis is the largest point of failure within the data center, we
wanted complete redundancy in all of its active components in order to reduce
the chance of any outage,” says Diby.

To ensure its infrastructure would scale as the company’s
data volumes continues to grow, and to maintain a flat data center
architecture, the company required high port density and line-rate switching.

Meeting the
parameters

As the only device to meet all of the company’s technical
parameters, the Asian Paints IT staff selected the Dell Force10 C150 resilient
switch to power its data center. As the only single-chassis design evaluated,
Diby believed that the C150, in a flat, redundant, single-chassis configuration
lessens the chance of configuration errors and provides simplified
troubleshooting.

“Our legacy switch was essentially a 100 Mbps switch with a
few Gigabit Ethernet ports, so even though the servers had Gigabit NICs, the
switch was limiting the throughput on the LAN,” says Diby.

As the number of applications delivered out of the data
center increased, Asian Paints upgraded to the C300 switch in the year 2011.
With up to 384 ports with line-rate, non-blocking Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) and 64
ports of 10 GbE capabilities, the C300 represented a tremendous scalability
improvement over even the C-150 deployed in 2007—with no sacrifices in
performance. IT staff acknowledged that performance gains could be nullified if
their network was hit by an outage, resulting in significant downtime. The C300
features a high-availability architecture that provides built-in redundancy,
including the 1+1 Route Processor Module delivering switching fabric capacity
of up to 1.536 Tbps and up to 952 Mbps L2/L3 packet forwarding capacity. The
C300 also features a fully passive backplane and a redundant power supply with
load sharing power bus that enables uninterrupted switching even during a power
supply failure.

“The C300 is fully populated with Gigabit Ethernet and 10G
ports, so there was an immediate tangible increase in the LAN throughput, and
we now have spare switching capacity,” says Diby.

Having that kind of port density on the C300 proved cost
effective enough for the IT staff to place another C150 at the disaster
recovery site. This underscores the additional flexibility they noticed, which
made their IT operations “definitely more agile and efficient than in the
past,” notes Diby.

“Since we adopted server virtualization technologies earlier
in 2007, we have had the capability to provision server resources literally on
demand. The C300 switch provided the network capacity to support on-demand
server provisioning,” says Diby.

Like framing a picture, having an efficient, well-coordinated
implementation is the final critical step to having a next-generation network
backbone quickly deployed to satisfy the needs of the business for today and
tomorrow.

“There was great commitment to our time lines, and since we
were approaching our peak selling season in India at the time, it was extremely
important for us to transition to the new switch well in advance,” recalls
Diby.

“We were implementing some configurations for the first
time, such as port aggregation. While all of this required detailed planning,
preparation and documentation from the teams and individuals involved, it was
performed so well by Dell Force10 and Asian Paints’ engineers that we had the
new switch successfully implemented with a down time window of just two hours.”

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