Corporate Express deploys Cisco’s UCS


Business support specialist Corporate Express has deployed Cisco’s Unified Computing System combined server and network infrastructure as it continues on its journey to implementing 100 percent virtualisation and private cloud computing within its operations.

Corporate Express infrastructure and operations centre manager Andrew Grech revealed the deployment – which had taken place just a few weeks ago — at an event on the sidelines of VMware’s vForum conference in Sydney today.

The company has broadly standardised on the hardware/software stack offered by the VCE consortium composed of VMware, Cisco and storage giant EMC. The stack has been the subject of a number of other deployments in Australia over the past few months, with both Optus and Westpac utilising the technology to build out cloud computing infrastructure.

Grech said since the new platform had arrived three to four weeks ago, his company had already migrated more than 160 virtual machines onto it. Currently the company has about 85 percent of its infrastructure virtualised, the result of an ongoing process it has been driving since 2004.

Since that time, Corporate Express has taken more than 200 physical servers out of its business – including a host of servers in branch offices around the nation and in New Zealand. “The UCS purchase is really going to help us drive towards 100 percent virtualization,” said Grech, noting the benchmark was likely to be reached before the end of 2010.

“I think between [now and] the end of this year we will squash that 15 percent,” he said.

According to another Corporate Express executive, Chad Singleton, much of the reason the company picked the Cisco platform was its high degree of integration with VMware. He noted Cisco’s server rivals didn’t offer the same level of integration yet. The company also had existing relationships with all three vendors in the VCE consortium, with the VMware and Cisco relationship dating back to 2004, and the company having had some EMC kit since 2007.

Grech said the company had been basically heading down the same path as the VCE consortium based on the merits of the individual suppliers – and over the past few years the company had seen the benefits of integration.

“For Corporate Express it’s a no-brainer in terms of leveraging what we’ve already got,” he said.

Corporate Express also has a number of other major IT projects ongoing at the moment. Grech noted the company was shortly planning to roll out new SAP-based ERP and CRM systems Australia-wide, with the new platform already having been implemented in New Zealand.

In addition, the company is also transitioning to a MPLS-based network, and will examine the case to migrate its Exchange collaboration suite into an outsourced cloud provider as well as part of a planned upgrade from Exchange 2007 – with Singleton mentioning Google’s Gmail platform as one option.