Santos drills into IT overhaul

Natural gas producer Santos is undertaking a significant IT infrastructure project including a desktop refresh and server consolidation through virtualization technology.

Having won Santos' IT services business from CSC three years ago, Volante now has Windows and Unix server teams and a WAN team working with the company.

Volante client manager Philip Norris said Santos is now involved in a notebook and monitor refresh project involving 700 notebooks and 700 flat screen monitors to replace aging CRTs.

Santos, which has about 2000 end users, expects the project to be completed by mid-2006. HP is Santos' vendor of choice for the notebooks and desktops, and the office productivity suite software will be upgraded to Microsoft Office 2003 as part of the project.

Norris said Volante makes technology recommendations about most hardware but Santos "has its own choice".

"HP was the incumbent," Norris, who could not disclose the value of the upgrade, said. "IBM and HP competed, not much between them so it came down to price and HP won."

Norris' team has also been working through a consolidation of Santos' Windows server environment with the VMware virtualization software.

"Santos has about 130 physical [x86] servers and 30 Unix servers, including Sun 6800 servers," Norris said. "We are progressively replacing older [physical] servers with virtual servers on other machines that have capacity and useful life left."

Norris said Santos cannot virtualize its Solaris systems as they are a mix of versions 8 and 9 of the operating system.

"The view is to upgrade the Oracle databases and ERP in April next year," he said, adding this may be to Solaris 10, which supports virtualized "containers".

"I think the view is that the approach to containers is not quite sorted out yet. They might be OK for test and development, but not for production."

For storage consolidation, Santos recently purchased IBM 4500 and 4800 SAN systems, including the storage virtualization software. Norris said these will be used initially to consolidate all the corporate storage with a view to virtualizing it.

To monitor the Unix server infrastructure, Volante implemented NetIQ's software which integrates with Microsoft's Operations Manager (MOM) giving the administrators a unified view.

"Previously Santos used other products, including a hosted solution [so] we moved to one we could host ourselves," he said. "Integration has been straightforward [and] using NetIQ gives us the ability to monitor and alert applications. We can start monitoring performance of Oracle databases and ERP."

Also on Santos' agenda is a move to ITIL (IT Infrastructure Library) which resulted in a migration from the Aegis service desk tool to Computer Associate's Unicentre service plus.

"This is an integrated service support tool which can drive process improvement," Norris said, adding CA tools are also being used for automated security services.