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n°19  |  October   2007
Bull’s hosting centers: ensuring operational continuity for customers
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The imperatives of service continuity and security, and how Bull supplies them in its hosting and outsourcing centers

Interview with Philippe Pauty, Director of the Bull Data Center, Trélazé, France.

Bull’s ‘Data Centers’ are at the heart of Bull’s outsourcing business. How do you perceive the developing needs of your customers in relation to these infrastructures?
IT Directors need to manage increasingly large volumes of data, because information systems are becoming more open, new services are being rolled out or new regulations need to be taken into account. This in turn leads them to instigate many projects to update, modernize and transform their Information Systems.

To achieve the fast response times required by businesses, they must be able to satisfy ever more demanding service requirements from operational management in terms of high availability for critical applications, rapid access to data and service continuity. These are absolute imperatives. But at the same time IT Directors also have to manage the risks that threaten the security and availability of these applications. To do this they must implement strategies that ensure they have total visibility of the IS, along with faultless security. This is achieved, among other things, through strategies for backing-up and replicating data between remote sites, and these sometimes have to overcome major constraints inherent in the nature of the business, such as the distance between the production and disaster recovery sites (which can be over 300km for some businesses).

The increasingly widespread availability of high-density servers is having an immediate impact on Data Centers. Some of them are literally saturated, or soon will be, and the density of IT infrastructures is fast becoming a major concern, with a sharp increase in problems linked to power consumption and thermal dissipation. The original design of many Data Centers simply no longer allows making them evolve. But the consequences are far-reaching in terms of costs, maintenance of normal operating conditions, and IT security!

Should we be talking about a new generation of Data Centers?
Yes. Because customers’ needs and technologies are evolving so quickly. And because IT infrastructures are evolving so rapidly, it means that hardware resources have to be optimized, the administration of security tools needs to be simplified, and above all, infrastructures need to be rationalized. The multiplicity of systems and new versions of applications is fast leading to very complex operating environments, as well as a total lack of flexibility: which is just what the business doesn’t need! That’s why organizations now expect to benefit from technical advances, with demands being made on service providers like Bull for a high level of expertise in new technologies like virtualization that are very complex to deploy. Or they may expect to capitalize on automated and professional service processes, especially to deliver effective service continuity or high levels of availability.

One last point: while today’s changes are no longer governed purely by the need to reduce costs, budgetary control nevertheless remains a determining factor within any strategy that businesses may adopt.

How have you taken these major developments into account in your Data Centers?
Firstly, we have implemented an information systems ‘urbanization’ methodology (to create a cohesive set of systems), and have revised our methods for tackling thermal dissipation in response to the constraints relating to high density. Energy management is at the heart of our concerns. Power consumption is one of the main factors affecting Data Center running costs, and this trend is set to continue.
This is an area where we can offer considerable added value. We regularly restructure our own Data Centers, and share our expertise in this field in order to offer optimized floor space. This is the result of long-term planning, our objective being to anticipate growing demands in the hosting business.
As a result, we have created separate zones for handling the problems of high and low density in different ways; while high density requires specific resources, classical configurations still meet the requirements of standard hosting. It is clear that a business-critical application does not require the same hosting resources as a development environment. This kind of flexibility is essential when it comes to adapting our offering to suit individual customers’ hosting requirements.

Another major development is that we have set up a new high-speed network to operate between two of our sites located more than 300km apart via the black fiber optic network supplied by our subsidiary Agarik, specialist in hosting critical Web applications. Thanks to the integration of DWDM (Dense Wavelength Division Multiplexing) technologies, the theoretical maximum speed will be anything up to 400 gigabits per second. Finally, thanks to the ‘dual building’ design used for our main hosting and outsourcing site, we can also offer synchronous replication to fulfill more specific IT security requirements.

Finally, we are constantly developing our storage, virtualization and Open Source tools, not just so we can exploit information technologies more effectively, but also so we can ensure our resources are automated as far as possible, and propose optimum solutions in terms of cost and service quality.

Our priority is to offer true granularity when it comes to our offerings, thanks to the flexibility of our infrastructures, and to provide the best levels of services and IT security at a reasonable cost. Today, our Data Center sites are equipped to meet the highest demands in the industry. This kind of hosting capacity is in great demand!

Bull launches the ‘Data Warehouse Parallel Server’

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Bull to Become Primary Channel for DATAllegro in Europe

Bull and DATAllegro™, supplier of the most advanced data warehouse appliance on an enterprise-class platform, announced a strategic partnership and a new product offering in Europe. As a result of the partnership, Bull launches Data Warehouse Parallel Server (DWPS) – a range of data warehouse platforms based on DATAllegro’s data warehouse appliance technology utilizing Bull’s NovaScale servers. Distributed in continental Europe, DWPS will be manufactured, marketed and supported by Bull with assistance from DATAllegro.

Data Warehouse Parallel Server targets medium to large organizations that face the issue of growing amounts of data and increasing requirements on their business intelligence infrastructure. These companies can significantly benefit from DWPS, which offers extremely high performance while reducing data warehouse TCO.

Data Warehouse Parallel Server offers an unmatched price/performance ratio, with low purchase and maintenance costs, which allow new applications to be supported and more data to be analyzed within existing budgets. DATAllegro’s patent-pending data warehouse appliance architecture is optimized to run complex queries on terabytes of data in minutes. Customers will also benefit from optional grid technology which allows companies to support disaster recovery and hub-and-spoke architectures.

Data Warehouse Parallel Server leverages the leadership of DATAllegro in second generation data warehouse appliances and of Bull, a major player in Business Intelligence. As an IT maker and systems integrator, Bull responds to all enterprise challenges by bringing together in-depth functional, business and technical expertise. Bull’s critical added values include:

  • End-to-end value chain from manufacturing to Europe-wide maintenance and support
  • Best-of-breed NovaScale servers as well as EMC storage solutions bringing market leading performance to the platform;
  • The know-how of mainframe disciplines;
  • The expertise in deploying enterprise-class data warehouses and the ability to lead projects to a successful completion.

The agreement with DATAllegro is a key part of Bull’s 7i strategic initiative. Bull’s 7i program is designed to help businesses reap the benefits of an open world by turning their information systems into drivers for creating value in a connected world, by facilitating growth, competitiveness and sovereignty.

Bull optimizes the consolidation of Oracle databases in Linux environments

Bull introduced DataScale to cut down database infrastructure implementation costs while offering the highest availability levels

DataScale is designed to simplify and secure the implementation of large Oracle® databases. DataScale provides a choice of preassembled and fine-tuned configurations combining NovaScale® Intensive servers, storage sub-systems and related implementation software and services.
The new Bull offering, that received the ‘Powered by Oracle’ label, is particularly intended for companies wishing to secure and speed up the deployment of Oracle databases, in the framework of consolidation projects or deployment of new databases. With DataScale, companies benefit from Bull’s expertise both in large servers and in the deployment of Oracle databases in the Data Center.

Easier deployment and lower costs
DataScale combines the Reliability, Availability and Serviceability (RAS) required by production environments. In order to facilitate the implementation of Oracle databases and Oracle RAC technologies, DataScale configurations are totally pre-installed. Bull is thus able to accelerate and secure the deployment of large database infrastructures at a lower cost.
DataScale provides powerful functionalities to administrate and run infrastructures:

  • Linux OS pre-loaded with the additional components required for a complete, consistent and fast Oracle installation
  • Bull’s ‘Database Load Partitioning’ software to allocate resources according to needs
  • NovaScale Master to monitor the entire configuration

A comprehensive Services offering
The industrialized manufacturing process improves the reliability of the infrastructure as a whole and simplifies support and maintenance operations. Bull delivers a variety of services from the installation to the implementation of Oracle databases in order to meet customers’ needs. The Bull offering includes the management of software releases and patches, as well as configuration parameterization and fine-tuning. Bull’s Oracle Competence Center brings its expertise in sizing, proof of concept (POC), best practices and optimization to deliver ready-to-deploy configurations on the customer site.

Price and availability
DataScale consists of four configurations, supporting Red Hat EL 4.5 AS. A standard configuration (1TB) list price = 57 600 euros
Available immediately.

A longstanding partnership with Oracle
This latest certification further strengthens the 23-year partnership between Bull and Oracle. An ‘Oracle Certified Partner’ since 2000, Bull has Centers of Excellence in Europe, as well as specialized Oracle teams in France. Bull supplies the hardware platforms (from its Escala and NovaScale ranges) for some of Oracle’s largest customers in Europe.
When it comes to Oracle services, Bull operates throughout the entire ‘Design, Build, and Operate’ value chain: from architecture definition, systems integration and implementation, to outsourcing services.

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