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Ministry of Housing and Urban-rural Development: Impressive Practice of Cloud Computing

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Abstract: Through research and practice of cloud computing technology, the Ministry of Housing and Urban-rural Development has solved the problem of low equipment utilization rate and duplicated construction of engine room, achieving the consolidation of IT resources and smart management of data centers, thus ensuring the information security and providing more stable support.

How Can We Build a Flexible and Strong System?

The Ministry of Housing and Urban-rural Development is primarily in charge of policy making, and is responsible for planning and construction in both urban and rural areas. It also manages construction industry, real estate industry, survey design consultation industry and municipal affairs. Besides, the Ministry develops relevant strategies, guidelines and regulations for the industry.

At present, the Ministry of Housing and Urban-rural Development adopts the traditional mode to manage its application systems, including WEB sites, provident fund reporting system, public opinion monitoring system, central data platform which analyze energy consumptions of buildings. This means that the systems have single server, single OS and single application, with multiple servers to support them. The IT infrastructure of the Ministry information center applies the typical decentralized architecture, which means each application uses a separate server and remains independent from others. Meanwhile, new applications enter the system on a regular basis. Therefore, it is necessary to plan and build a more flexible and robust system for the future use.

Improving the Efficiency of Management and Service Becomes Extremely Urgent

As the earlier system construction of the Ministry of Housing and Urban-rural Development was completed in several phases, each of which dealt with over ten subordinate units. There was no unified management tool or information sharing among different apartments or applications as the result of dispersed data storage; the components of the host and storage systems are different from each other and the application software are developed in different platforms. Besides, as most of current hardware uses the stand-alone operation mode, exposed to the risk of single point failure. In terms of resource utilization rate, the traditional deployment mode requires nearly 100 physical devices to launch new businesses. While the room space and power supply are reaching their limits, CPUs have a low utilization rate of hardware resource, there is an urgent need to provide a more efficient mode and structure.

On the other hand, many of the core applications, such as provident fund reporting system, construction industry monitoring platform, MOHURD website system, water projects, and public opinion monitoring system, deal with customer privacy and confidential information. These systems are especially exposed to risks, so the data security of great importance. In respond to this, it is essential to take some measures, including hierarchical authorization, controllable supervision and security isolation to ensure information security and reasonable resource allocation.

How can we realize automatic business processes as well as unified planning and management of resources through cloud computing technology? The multi-tenant mechanism, which separates individual businesses, is able to reduce management cost as well as risk, and to improve management efficiency.

Exploration and Practice Leading to Gradual Yet Great Improvement

Taking the real situation into consideration, Inspur figures out a two-stage plan for MOHURD cloud computing. During the first phase, Inspur constructed a virtualization-based data center to realize the transformation from a traditional data center to a virtualized one.

The first phase of MOHURD virtualization platform construction has two business clusters. Inspur NF8560M2 server and Inspur AS500G3 optical storage are used to form cloud computing resource pools. The first cluster, construction cluster, has four 4-way servers and two old IP storages while the second cluster, water project cluster, has two 4-way servers and two FC storages AS500G3. These two resource pools support several core applications, such as MOHURD application patch distribution platform, provident fund reporting system, construction industry monitoring platform, website system, water projects, public opinion monitoring system and so on.

In order to eliminate planned downtime, virtual heat transfer and HA technology are adopted, improving system availability. On the other hand, unplanned downtime should also be reduced. Through application templates, applications are quickly deployed  and improve the efficiency of resource delivery.

MOHURD Heading Towards Cloud Data Center with the Help of In-Cloud OS

The Ministry of Housing and Urban-rural Development recognizes the success of the first phase of project, yet points out some problems which still need to be tackled. For example, the performance and capacity of the resource pools need to be expanded. In addition, administrators and leaders point out that currently there is still no individual system which can complete the whole procedure of resource allocation on demand and dynamic circulation. They also hope to manage and monitor resources under one interface. In current systems, technicians have to log into each virtual machine to monitor the operating system, database and middleware. The alarm system does not include operation analysis report or mail/SMS alarm. Therefore, Inspur upgrades and transforms the whole virtualization platform.

In the second phase of the project, we improve the processor and expand the memory of the four-way server NF8560M2 and another single server to and eliminate the bottleneck of memory consumption. Another NF8560M2 is added to expand the entire computing resource pool, and to ensure  resources allocation after new businesses join in. Two new optical storages AS500H replace the original IP SAN storage, thus improving the performance and capacity of the storage system. Finally, the Inspur "In-Cloud OS" realizes unified management of physical and virtual resources. The success of  self-service data center also enables the Ministry of Housing and Urban-rural Development to progress to a cloud data center!

The Reasons Why Cloud Computing Takes the Lead

As MOHURD mentions in the later feedback, traditional data center requires nearly 100 servers to support businesses of the existing size while in the new-constructed cloud computing data center needs only seven 4-way servers, decreasing the power consumption by 78%, space by70%, and increasing resource utilization rate by ten times.

With Inspur virtualization technology, private cloud platforms have good expansibility. Increase in the number of server suffices the increasing demands and updates the system in a smooth and easy way, expanding businesses when necessary. HA, heat transfer and virtual backup in the virtual cluster avoid planned downtime and minimize unplanned downtime, improving system security significantly.

In-Cloud OS V3.0”, the management platform of Inspur cloud data center operating system, realizes a unified management of data center resources; it is designed specially to solve the problem of hardware re-purchasing/deploying in traditional business systems. With the new cloud management platform, the data center can evaluate and approve resource applications online, allocate resources on demand and realize smart management of information in the mode of cloud self-service.

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