Kansas City International (KCI) Airport: Vblock™ Testing and Implementation
Recognizing the growing importance to provide a positive customer experience as a way to differentiate itself and remain competitive, an international airport turned to us for help in realizing a better solution.
Vblock demo in ATC proves converged system will solve immediate problems and meet future goals
An outdated and disparate computing and communications environment presented ongoing challenges for the Aviation Department at Kansas City International (KCI) Airport.
“We had over 50 physical servers at our location, some of which were over 10 years old; our phone system couldn’t scale; and our systems were increasingly difficult to manage,” said David Jacobus, IT manager for KCI. “Nothing was virtualized. We had heating and cooling problems in our computer room, and we needed to address audit deficiencies stemming from the fact that we lacked backup capabilities and a true Disaster Recovery (DR) site.”
After meeting with multiple vendors, KCI chose WWT to help the airport consolidate and virtualize physical systems and meet DR mandates.
WWT leveraged its people, proven processes and powerful VCE partnership to help KCI meet its objectives with the Vblock™ Systems Infrastructure Platform, which integrates best-in-class compute, network and storage technologies from Cisco, EMC and VMware.
After meeting with KCI to understand the Aviation Department’s current challenges and end goals, WWT’s national resource team and local account representatives recommended the implementation of two separate Vblock Systems to create a highly available disaster recovery (DR) configuration, streamline IT management and expand capabilities overall.
“While we initially thought that Vblock might be too elaborate, WWT’s experts explained how the converged systems could solve our immediate issues and help us meet longer-term goals,” Jacobus said. “We soon realized that we could use the Vblocks more extensively, including upgrading our phone system to maximize our investment. Plus, WWT and VCE experts spent a good deal of time with us on the front end to ensure that our systems and network were properly configured from the start.”
WWT completed a virtualization and storage assessment for KCI and discussed the Aviation Department’s five-year plan in order to provide critical forecasting for the Vblock Systems. Using WWT’s Advanced Technology Center (ATC), the team demonstrated the Vblock interface along with the VMware, Cisco and EMC components that comprise the integrated solution to highlight capacity and flexibility. KCI was able to witness the Vblock solution in action prior to making a procurement decision, validating that the solution met their business requirements.
Once the design was finalized and the solution was procured, WWT oversaw delivery and installation of the initial Vblock at the main airport and a second Vblock at a separate off-site location for DR. To ensure reliable data protection, backup and recovery, WWT integrated EMC Avamar and RecoverPoint, as well as VMware Site Recovery Manager (SRM). WWT also managed the implementation of Cisco Voice over IP (VoIP), which allowed KCI to run its entire phone system over the Vblock.
“WWT was there for us every step of the way from the initial quoting and education process through procurement, delivery, installation and training. It took just a few days to migrate all of our systems to virtual machines on the Vblock,” Jacobus said.
As a VCE Gold Solutions Provider, as well as a Cisco Gold Certified, EMC Velocity Signature and VMware Premier Partner, WWT was uniquely qualified to help KCI understand, implement and leverage the extensive capabilities of the Vblock Systems and associated solutions.
“WWT emphasized that this would be a turnkey solution, but I don’t think we really believed it until the Vblock showed up on our doorstep racked, stacked, pre-tested and preconfigured,” Jacobus said. “We just plugged it in, and at the end of the project we didn’t have a hallway full of a thousand boxes or parts and pieces that didn’t fit.”
With the new Vblock Systems in place, KCI has established fully redundant DR and ensured audit compliance with the City of Kansas City, Missouri. “There is no single point of failure now that we’re using the Vblock in conjunction with RecoverPoint, Avamar and SRM. If we lost power to our main system, we would have every one of our systems up and running at the alternate DR site within 10 minutes max,” Jacobus said.
Today, KCI has consolidated and virtualized 95 percent of its servers and can easily monitor and manage its entire data center and voice network without the need to add additional staff members. “The impact on our environment was evident within the first week,” Jacobus said. “There was a noticeable change in the amount of power that we were consuming. Before the Vblock, our server room was overheating at least once a month. We’ve had the Vblock for almost 18 months at our primary site, and I don’t think the temperature in the room has gone above 70 degrees. It’s definitely reduced the strain on mechanicals.”
The Vblock Systems have also reduced the strain on KCI’s small IT staff. “We can spin up five or 50 servers in 20 minutes, rapidly test and deploy applications, and system administration is much easier as you can see every system running on the converged infrastructure,” Jacobus said. Pleased with the results, KCI plans to continue to explore and expand the use of Vblock Systems for the Aviation Department in the future.