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Jumeirah Group deploys SDN architecture

Hotel chain becomes one of the first companies in the region to deploy SDN

Menezes: We have over 400 virtual servers that are powered on this Huawei infrastructure
Menezes: We have over 400 virtual servers that are powered on this Huawei infrastructure

Dubai-based hotel chain Jumeirah Group has become one of the first organisations in the Middle East to implement a bona fide software-defined network.

Built out in the second half of 2014, using technology from Huawei and other vendors, the implementation started out as a simple data centre modernisation project. However, according to Jumeirah Group, it quickly became obvious that a hardware refresh alone would not provide the company with a solid platform on which to execute its growth plans.

"We wanted to make sure that whatever we bought in provided a solid platform that we could use as a springboard in terms of services that we offer our hotels," Neil Menezes, vice president of IT at Jumeirah Group, told ITP.net.

The answer came in the form of software-defined networking (SDN), which, by separating the control and data planes within the network, promises to end long provisioning times and create a more agile data centre.

Jumeirah Group selected Huawei to create its next-generation server farm architecture, which enabled the company to pursue a simple, smart, and open next-generation data centre that accelerates the deployment and delivery of applications within and across multiple sites and clouds, according to Menezes.

The architecture gets around the complexity and compromises associated with the geographic distribution of data centres and their compute and storage nodes. Hence, the company went about fully virtualising its data centres to alleviate pressures that the business was experiencing.

"This is where the likes of Huawei came into play. The way that we have architected the whole solution is basically that the Huawei technologies that are sitting in our data centre are really powering our whole private cloud initiative - all of our virtualisation stack, all of the umpteen number of services that we're actually hosting," Menezes said.

"We have the capability to support over 400 virtual servers on this Huawei infrastructure."

The solution - comprising Huawei's top-of-the-range servers as well as a number of other technologies from the likes of Red Hat, HP and EMC that allowed for SDN - promised to help Jumeirah Group in a number of ways. For example, when taking on a new hotel, there is now no need to redo tasks like creating VLANs, as these processes are now automated and can be orchestrated.

"These are all mundane tasks now. I don't have engineers spending time issuing command lines to do things. It's all put in through the service portal, it's all configurable, and the system goes in and takes care of whatever needs to be done," said Menezes.

The company went live with its new data centres in early October, 2014. Menezes says that he and his team are still on "level-one" maturity as far as it comes to orchestrating everything, which he describes as a never-ending process. However, he is confident that the company is getting to grips with the new method of providing IT services.

Regardless, by virtualising its IT assets across its data centre infrastructure, software-defined technology has enabled greater resource utilisation so that the IT team is able to optimise its staff productivity.

Read the full case study on this deployment in the upcoming issue of Arabian Computer News, available April 1.