Reliance Big Entertainment (RBEL) was incorporated in India in 2005 as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Reliance ADA Group. RBEL has four media groups: Reliance Media Works, Reliance Broadcast Network, Reliance Digital, and Reliance Entertainment. These groups operate more than 20 media-related businesses, including the cinema chain BIG Cinemas, the film production company Film and Media Services, and radio stations 92.7 BIG FM and BIG CBS. BIG Cinemas is India’s largest cinema chain, with more than 516 screens in theaters across India, Malaysia, Nepal, the Netherlands, and the US, catering to over 35 million customers. As India’s largest FM network, 92.7 BIG FM is comprised of 45 stations and reaches more than 41.6 million Indians every week.
RBEL has grown significantly since 2005 and needed a robust, scalable, and high-performing IT infrastructure to support its SAP enterprise resource planning (ERP) application. By implementing Oracle’s SPARC T4 Series servers, running Oracle Solaris and Oracle’s Pillar Axiom 600 storage system, the organization has cut data backup times by up to 70%. It also significantly reduced IT administration and data center costs and can process transactions, such as financial and procurement report generation, up to 80% faster.
Since RBEL’s inception in 2005, the number of media-related businesses the company operates has grown from around 14 to more than 20. RBEL previously ran its ERP application (for financials, purchasing, human resources, and payroll), on six Sun M4000, T5220, and x4150 servers. It also operated one StorageTek 2540 storage array.
As the company expanded, the legacy servers’ performance began to wane. In addition, the amount of ERP data RBEL needed to store increased by 50% to 60%.
“As our media companies grew in number and size, the legacy servers struggled meet the increase in ERP transactions, so that response times slowed by 70% to 80%,” said T.S. Purushothman, CIO, Reliance BIG Entertainment. “For example, in the past we could generate various management information system (MIS) reports, such as finance and procurement reports, in two or three minutes. However, as we grew, these reports were taking 10 or 12 minutes to produce, which affected staff productivity and efficiency.”
RBEL needed a robust and high-performing server infrastructure that would improve application performance and support increased transactions as the company grew. It also needed a scalable storage solution that could handle an increase of around 5 TB to 6 TB per year.
RBEL implemented three SPARC T4-1 and SPARC T4-2 servers, running Oracle Solaris, and a Pillar Axiom 600 storage system. The SPARC servers process around 400 GB of ERP data each month. Pillar Axiom 600 stores around 2 TB to 3 TB of ERP and other film, radio, and broadcast-related data.
By running its ERP application on the SPARC T4 servers, the company has improved transaction times by up to 80%.
“The MIS reports that previously took 10 to 12 minutes to generate now take only 2 to 3 minutes, significantly improving staff and process efficiency,” said Purushothman. “If managers need to make a decision regarding procurement costs for a movie production or the revenue from the sale of a particular game, they can quickly generate the required report and make the decision based on up-to-date information.”
RBEL can also run reports significantly faster using archived historical data. For example, generating a report showing financial data for a previous quarter used to take up to 30 minutes, but can now be completed in 10 minutes.
“SPARC T4 servers have improved staff’s productivity as they can more quickly run reports and complete other ERP processes, such as purchase approvals, before moving onto other tasks,” said Purushothman.
SPARC T4 and Oracle Solaris Containers have enabled RBEL to consolidate its servers by a 3:1 ratio and reduce server utilization rates from 70% to 30%. The increase in server space and the ability to easily add more capacity, if required, allows the company to scale servers in real time to run new applications or to move other media-related businesses onto the ERP system.
“By reducing the server utilization rate we’ve already integrated several new media entities onto the SAP ERP system, rather than running their ERP processes on third-party systems,” said Purushothman. “This has significantly improved time for many tasks, such as approving staff travel receipts. Our employees travel frequently for film productions or to promote our various media entities. In the past, companies would e-mail numerous travel receipts to different teams at the head office for approval. Now, they can enter appropriate data straight into the integrated system, running on the SPARC servers, and the teams can approve the receipts from there.”
RBEL expects the number of users to continue to grow over the next few years, increasing transaction rates from 15,000 transactions per second (TPS) to 45,000 TPS.
“We are confident that the SPARC T4 servers, running Oracle Solaris, have the capacity and the performance to easily support this increase,” said Purushothman.
By implementing the Pillar Axiom 600 storage system, RBEL has reduced the time to conduct full and incremental backups of 2 TB to 3 TB of media-related ERP data from around 10 hours to 3 to 4 hours.
“We manage large quantities of mission-critical financial, purchasing, human resources, and payroll data from our media entities, and it’s essential that this information is always available,” said Purushothman. “Our Pillar Axiom storage system cut the time required to back up data by almost 70%, preventing the backup window from affecting system performance during peak hours. We can also be confident that data is available in the event of an emergency.”
By using Pillar Axiom’s read and write features, RBEL has also cut response times for database queries and transactions by around 50%, despite storing more ERP and other data.
“We’re expecting the amount of ERP data we store to continue to grow rapidly, so it’s important that we have a stable and highly available storage solution that can maintain excellent performance despite an increase in data of around 5 TB to 6 TB per year,” said Purushothman. “Pillar Axiom 600 provides fast, reliable access to all our media-related ERP data and will easily scale to support the company as we grow.”
The Pillar Axiom 600 storage system has reduced the number of storage systems RBEL requires from two to one. Coupled with the 3:1 server reduction, this has significantly reduced data center costs.
“We’ve cut costs by reducing the administration, maintenance, and space required for our IT infrastructure, as well as power and cooling requirements,” said Purushothman. “These latter reductions also help support our green initiative, as we are using less electricity.”
RBEL is running Oracle VM and Oracle VM Server for SPARC as part of its virtualized infrastructure. Oracle VM Server for SPARC integrates the company’s SPARC servers and its Oracle Solaris operating system, increasing flexibility and isolating workload processing. This enabled RBEL to quickly and easily move its ERP application from its legacy server infrastructure to its SPARC T4 servers, without affecting the application’s availability.
“By running separate instances of Oracle Solaris on different domains by using the Oracle Solaris Live Migration feature, we could move our ERP application from the M4000 servers to the SPARC servers in real time with only minimal downtime for our users,” said Purushothman.
RBEL was looking for a reliable, robust, and scalable server to support its ERP application and growing media-related businesses.
“We evaluated Oracle and other vendors but the SPARC T4 servers running Oracle Solaris clearly demonstrated better response times than the other comparable products,” said Purushothman. “We could also see the SPARC server and Solaris combination would better support our long-term plans by providing scalability and maintaining system performance as our data volumes grew.”
In addition, RBEL’s legacy server and database infrastructure was already based on Oracle, so the company was confident about Oracle’s abilities, as well as the servers’ compatibility during the migration.
RBEL began looking for a new server and storage solution in October 2011 before deciding on the SPARC T4 servers and Pillar Axiom 600 storage system in March 2012.
The company worked closely with Oracle’s product teams and its in-house IT teams to ensure the implementation and data migration was as smooth as possible. The new IT infrastructure went live in November 2012.
RBEL worked with Oracle Partner Ashtech Infotech on the server virtualization. The partner was particularly helpful in creating the virtualized server partitions.
“We worked very well with Ashtech, and formed a strong relationship with the team,” said Purushothman. “We were also very impressed by how well the partner worked with the Oracle teams. The interaction was so seamless, it was as if we were working with only one support team, rather than two.”