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Petronas - More reliability, flexibility and reduced costs with a virtualized environment

Petronas, a Malaysian state company, comprises 156 companies and provides employment to about 50,000 people. Petronas is among the Fortune top 500 en is the 6th largest oil company in the world.

Petronas lubricants Belgium NV and Petronas Lubricants Netherlands B.V. are affiliated companies of Petronas Lubricants International (PLI), a subsidiary of Petronas. Petronas Lubricants International is a leading oil company and the chosen manufacturer for various OEM companies.

In the Benelux Petronas Lubricants is headquartered in Aartselaar and has blending and filling plants in Hemiksem (production, logistics and R&D), Aartselaar (administration) and Rotterdam (administration and logistics).

The Benelux data center is located in Hemiksem, and the production plant is connected via MPLS connections with Aartselaar, Rotterdam and Turin. Petronas Lubricants Belgium employs a hundred people and the IT-team consists of 3 people, supplemented by outsourced support.

Due to a number of acquisitions, the call for more infrastructure and applications gained momentum. Until then the Petronas environment mainly consisted of dedicated servers. This meant constant updates were necessary and the IT team got to deal with cumbersome and labor intensive management. New infrastructure equipment, centralized databases and applications seemed inevitable. Moreover Petronas very strictly monitors safety and procedures, of which follow-up is regularly audited by specialized teams. Due to ad hoc deliveries to tanker and cargo ships DR and BCP always need to be guaranteed.

A cloud deployment was not an option, because of the use of SAP, BCP, BI, EDI and extensive plant automation. To limit the hardware and keep the system manageable virtualization was the preferred solution. The only choice that remained was whether to go for Hyper-V or VM Ware. For this purpose, Petronas approached six suppliers, who each conducted a conceptual study and defended their proposal.

Petronas was quickly convinced by the Microsoft Hyper-V concept and chose Ferranti Computer Systems as the implementation partner. Johan Verwerft, IT Manager at Petronas Lubricants Belgium explains: "In the past we had been very satisfied with the work done by Ferranti and their proposal was very professionally elaborated with a definite concept. Moreover, they have a very good in-house Hyper-V knowledge and Ferranti was the only vendor that could substantiate that the speed of data would not constitute any obstacle to the PLC control in the factories. Meanwhile, two years later I can confirm that we have absolutely made the right choice in terms of both scope and partner. Uptime 100%, data availability 100%, speed 100%, security issues 0%. "

The data center solution was built with components from just two suppliers, in particular Dell for the hardware (Hypervisor servers and storage) and Microsoft for the software (Virtualization and Management). This considerably simplifies the licensing and system management. And also the performance benefits from using just Microsoft software.

Johan Verwerft confirms: "In terms of performance and productivity, we cannot complain at all. The hypervisors are currently running 34 servers including some servers that require a lot of resources such as Exchange, a fully stocked SharePoint 2013 BI with SQL BI, two Oracle databases including application platform and an SAP document creator. The data center can easily manage this and does not budge! "

Furthermore, all hardware components are run fully redundant and enough space is provided to expand the server virtualization platform in the future.

The entire infrastructure and associated Disaster Recovery plan was audited by a Malaysian IT team in June 2012. Proven DR tests were requested, alternate scenarios tested and a domain admin was made available for 8 days. Also the support contract with Ferranti has been kept under scrutiny. No single comment has been retained in their final report.

"The system software however does have a certain learning curve," Johan Verwerft adds, "it takes a while before you can really get to work with it. Meanwhile, this works pretty well so we can limit our interaction with the helpdesk to what is absolutely necessary. "

Microsoft System Center Data Protection Manager

Reliability was an important objective for Petronas in the transition to a virtualized environment. To better protect its global data assets, reduce backup costs and accommodate growing data volumes, Petronas uses Microsoft System Center Data Protection Manager. Two Data Protection Manager servers are being used, a primary server on the main site and a secondary one on the disaster recovery site. The primary data protection manager server backs up all virtual machines and data like Exchange, SQL and Sharepoint on the main site. All data, is transferred to the secondary Data Protection Manager server on the DR site. In case one of the sites goes down all data is available to build both sites again.