Technical Case StudySOFTBANK TELECOM Corp.By Midori Morooka Since it was founded more than 30 years ago, SOFTBANKand Masaki Gonda,SOFTBANK TELECOM Corp. Group has aspired to use technology to enhance the well-being of people and the communities in which they live. Today, the SOFTBANK Group consists of 190 subsidiaries and affiliated companies delivering products and services that touch more than 37 million subscribers worldwide. SOFTBANK Group’s primary areas of focus are communications and the Internet, including serving as one of the leading Internet-oriented venture capital firms. In addition, cloud-based services offered through our division, SOFTBANK TELECOM Corp., helped the people of Japan as they responded to the d evastating earthquake and tsunami in 2011. We’ll cover this in more detail later, but for now suffice it to say that it’s truly exciting to see what happens when inspiration, technology, and service come together. A Pioneer in Cloud Computing Across its telecom groups, the SOFTBANK TELECOM Corp. IT team quickly identified opportunities to improve IT service delivery. At the top of our list was turning IT from a cost center into a profit center. By focusing on consolidating and standardizing our IT infrastructure across t elecom divisions, we were also able to build our cloud-service offerings called “White Cloud.” Today, these include White Cloud Desktop service (DaaS)—our first cloud offering—and, more recently, our White Cloud vCloud DataCenter (vCloud) service, which was previously called White Cloud Shared Hardware as a Service Premium (SHP). Launched internally in 2008, White Cloud DaaS quickly achieved solid returns, including reducing calls to our internal IT help desk by 90% and increasing individual employee productivity by 10%. In 2010, we began offering White Cloud DaaS to our external customers. Within SOFTBANK Group alone, we currently have more than 22,000 virtual desktops, making our deployment one of the largest VDI use cases in the world.
Integral to the success of our IT infrastructure consolidation and our abilityto introduce more high-availability, flexible cloud services was standardizingon best-in-class technologies, including NetApp® storage. Our White CloudDaaS and White Cloud vCloud services are built on NetApp storage tech ology. nThrough a strategic partnership, IBM provides the NetApp storage technologiesto us as the IBM N series for the White Cloud DaaS service. The White CloudvCloud service is built on the NetApp FAS3200 series.Technology and Service in ActionOn March 11, 2011, a massive earthquake and tsunami devastated Japan,destroying lives, homes, and infrastructure across the country and rattlingthe economy. At SOFTBANK TELECOM Corp.—where White Cloud DaaS wasalready serving thousands of employees—the company’s top management real-ized that the White Cloud DaaS offering could be of great value in the disaster’saftermath, enabling us to address new government energy requirements whilehelping other organizations across Japan resume perations faster. oWithin weeks of the earthquake, we expanded White Cloud DaaS to an additional14,000 SOFTBANK Group employees. The fast, secure scalability of NetAppstorage was instrumental in helping us accomplish this. At the same time, weoffered our White Cloud DaaS at half price to our customers, the government,and nonprofit organizations, providing almost zero profit to SOFTBANK TELECOMCorp. Through our own success with White Cloud, we knew we could helpd isplaced workers be productive in the urrent environment. cIn addition to aiding business continuity, the underlying scalable NetApp storageinfrastructure helped extend the reach of our White Cloud DaaS ervice and sig- snificantly decreased energy usage across locations. That, combined with othermeasures and efforts by employees and affiliated ompanies, reduced electrical cpower usage at SOFTBANK Group head uarters by 39%. qBuilding a Solid Storage Foundation for Cloud ServicesThe decision to first adopt our own cloud services was part of SOFTBANKTELECOM Corp.’s ambitious strategy to create proven, powerful cloud servicesfor customers. We also wanted to build on the skills we developed with VMware®virtualization and with virtualized storage. VMware was the natural choice forus because we were already a VMware partner representing VMware vCloud®D atacenter Services in Japan.For our storage infrastructure, our IT team concluded that we needed a new,agile, and cost-efficient infrastructure for cloud services. We chose NetApps torage technology sourced through IBM. The unified architecture of theNetApp storage technology enabled us to start small and scale nondisruptivelyas we grew while keeping costs low. We initially estimated that our new storagesystems could manage 700 virtual desktops. Later, we used a block-and-celldesign (see Figure 1) that enabled us to expand the number of desktopsto thousands.In addition to adopting an agile, cost-effective solution, security was critical.We needed to be able to isolate users and customers within the virtualized envi-ronment. The built-in multi-tenancy capabilities of NetApp technology provedessential because we could divide the storage area for each customer andsecurely deliver the appropriate level of service to meet each ustomer’s needs. c 2
Today, our unified storage infrastructure built on NetApp technology comes with logical partitioning, so we can isolate customer services and maintain excellent security. The logical partitioning does not require additional physical hardware, resulting in a less costly storage infrastructure that is still secure and flexible. In addition, this storage architecture helps us maintain a competitive edge by offering built-in capabilities such as thin provisioning and deduplication to expand the system and still conserve disk capacity. We also took full advantage of FlexClone® software to instantly replicate data volumes and datasets without requiring more storage space. By combining that with thin provisioning and deduplication, we effectively control storageMidori Morooka consumption.Manager, Information System DivisionCommunication Service Management DepartmentSOFTBANK TELECOM Corp. Finally, more consistent storage management enables us to administer the entire system through a single console, which further reduces costs. We canMs. Morooka has worked for SOFTBANK perform capacity management, virtual machine management, and more fromTELECOM Corp. for the last 25 years.She held positions as an instructor in the same screen. Other APIs allow us to manage the basic storage functionstechnical support and as the system through the VMware console if we choose. This reduces the learning curve formanagement team leader prior to her some administrators.current role as general manager of theCommunication ervice Management S For the White Cloud DaaS infrastructure, we combined the IBM x3550 ervers sDepartment in the Information System and the IBM N series storage, which is based on NetApp storage technology.Division. She is also the planning We decided that this combination would deliver the best cost/performancem anager for the group-wide commu while improving operational management.nications infra tructure. Ms. Morooka scontributed to implementing NetAppstorage for 19,500 virtual desktops White Cloud DaaS Infrastructure Detailsfor SOFTBANK Group employees, The completed White Cloud DaaS infrastructure was considerably different fromleveraging her success in implementingNetApp storage during a prior project. what we had planned. It called for using a low-end HP storage array that we figured could handle 300 virtual desktops. In subsequent plan reviews, we became concerned about how difficult the system would be to maintain and provision. We also were concerned about how expensive it would be to scale. With our White Cloud DaaS today, NetApp technology lets us scale easily while minimizing storage and administration costs. The current White Cloud DaaS infrastructure uses a block-and-cell design architecture. This is a simple design that lets us start small and scale easily. Each block contains 500–1,000 virtual PC desktops that connect to the storage through NFS, and each cell can contain multiple blocks. In practice, we ended up with 700 desktops per block. This design can scale big to support business growth. (See Figure 1.) To grow the system we can add virtual desktops to each block, which users can access through the cloud with PCs, laptops, Wyse Thin Clients, or Apple® iPad® tablets. We have an innovative way of scaling. When we need to add fewer than 100 desktops, we use VMware View™ and cloning capabilities. However, when we need to add more than 100 virtual desktops, we rely on FlexClone technol- ogy through the rapid cloning utility (RCU) to enable fast deployment and save storage capacity. Occasionally, we have to achieve the security of a multi-tenant environment by isolating network access to NAS instead of our usual multi‑tenant function. In these cases, we configure NAS storage even if only a few users are involved. Then we use MultiStore® functions to create a logical security partition. In instances in which we have to back up virtual desktops, we use Snapshot™ and SnapMirror ® capabilities. A virtual desktop can be divided into a virtual machine and the user profile data. We do not back up the virtual machines because it is faster to simply redeploy the virtualized systems than to initiate a full backup and restore process. 3
1 Cell (4 Block) 1 Block (500 ~ 1,000 VM) 1 Block (500 ~ 1,000 VM) ESX Cluster N3400 #2 N3400 #1 MultiStore NFS Data Store N3400 #3 (OS Images Only) 1 Block (500 ~ 1,000 VM) CIFS RCU Home Directory Dedup SnapMirror 1 Block (500 ~ 1,000 VM) Management Operations Manager Wyse Thin Clients VSC ESX Cluster PC iPadFigure 1) White Cloud DaaS storage architecture. Tools and Technologies for White Cloud DaaS At various points, SOFTBANK TELECOM Corp. uses different tools and protocols, most of which are included as part of the storage and data management platform. These are: • Storage monitoring—Operations Manager • Automated provisioning—RCU and NMSDK • Storage utilities—FlexClone, Snapshot, SnapMirror • Storage efficiency—Thin provisioning, deduplication • Security—MultiStore for multi-tenancy • Protocols—NFS, CIFS • Thin clients—Wyse, Apple iPad • Connection broker—Developed in house White Cloud vCloud Infrastructure Overview SOFTBANK TELECOM Corp. is the only provider of VMware vCloud Datacenter services in Japan. Our White Cloud vCloud service is infrastructure as a service (IaaS). As mentioned earlier, we previously offered White Cloud Shared HaaS remium P (SHP) as an IaaS service. White Cloud vCloud is the replacement service for SHP and offers more flexible options, such as the self-service portal feature, to our users. The main difference between the two from a technical standpoint is that White Cloud vCloud uses VMware’s vCloud Director. (VMware vSphere® was used in SHP.) vCloud Director enables the consolidation of virtual infra structure across multiple clusters, the encapsulation of application services such as portable vApps, and the deployment of those services on demand, but still with isolation and control. 4
White Cloud vCloud consists of three clusters connected to a 10GbE switch. The resource cluster in the middle runs the VMware ESX server and the c ustomer virtual machines. The administration cluster on the right-hand side handles the administrative tasks while the staging cluster on the left-hand side runs piloting and testing. These connect to NetApp FAS3200 series storage containing both SAS and SATA disk. The power of NetApp unified storage is that it can handle different types of disks with no problem. (See Figure 2.) SHP offered end-user data backup as an option, which was important to d ifferentiate us from our competitors. It was a feature that we wanted to keep offering to end users even after moving to White Cloud vCloud. In theMasaki Gonda environment using vCloud Director, we are able to back up with integrity sinceSystems Engineer, Cloud Services DivisionCloud Services Department the solution coordinates with vCloud Director, vCenter™, and each element in SOFTBANK TELECOM Corp. the storage, as you can see in the diagram below. We had a problem initially,Mr. Gonda has been a systems engi- however, because there weren’t many vendors at that time who offered aneer with SOFTBANK TELECOM Corp. backup structure that worked with vCloud Director transparently. We consultedfor the last six years. He previously with NetApp and they introduced us to NetApp Snap Creator™. This frameworkworked in the security and mobile let us easily build a structure to back up and restore data working with anyareas, and now works in systems application or middleware and offer the same level of service that we hadengineering in the Cloud Service with SHP. (See Figure 3.)Development department, working ongeneral infrastructure, including server, When a backup job is run in the White Cloud vCloud environment using Snapnetwork, and storage. While with thecompany he has contributed to imple- Creator, Snap Creator accesses vCloud Director and gets data from vCenter,menting NetApp storage in the White which is under vCloud Director. It then takes a backup of the linked vApps andCloud VMware vCloud Datacenter ser- VMs online. NetApp Snapshot enables fast backup, and we rovide protection pvice, leveraging his experience utilizing by replicating the online backup data using SnapMirror.NetApp storage and virtualization tech-nologies during a previous project. Company A Company B vApp vApp vApp Virtual Machine Org_vDC Org_vDC Layer vCloud Director Snap Creator Operations Manager Management Cluster Resource Cluster Resource Cluster vCloud Staging Cluster Layer MultiStore FAS3240AE Storage SAS Shelf Layer SnapMirror SATA ShelfFigure 2) White Cloud vCloud storage architecture. 5
VMware vCloud Director Snap Creator VMware vCenter Snapshot Copies Backup Admin NetApp Storage Mirror with SnapMirror to Other Site Snapshot CopiesFigure 3) White Cloud vCloud backup environment using NetApp Snap Creator.We also offer our customers the option of developing and implementingtheir own tools using the vCloud API to handle automation and orchestration inthe delivery of vCloud services. We will continue to offer services that supportour customers in delivering automation, in addition to the previously mentionedself-service portal.ResultsThe White Cloud DaaS initiative, which was started to optimize our own business,has now been used by many customers. From our users’ standpoint, theb enefits include:• Increased individual productivity by about 10% daily by supporting use of smartphones and tablets, resulting in increased efficiency and less overtime• Reduced internal help-desk calls by 90%• Reduced energy consumption as a group by 39% using White Cloud DaaS in combination with other company initiatives and employee efforts (the government requested reducing energy use by 25%)• Achieved rapid implementation of virtual desktops in seconds using storage cloning technology• Achieved highly efficient use of storage through deduplicationSince White Cloud vCloud was launched in July 2011, its sales have been higherthan we anticipated. The service achieved an 80% increase in month‑over-month sales for the past three months. 6