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Huawei Servers Upgrade Chinese Finances

6/18/2015 12:00:00 AM

Background

The Ministry of Finance of the People’s Republic of China (Finance Ministry), is an important part of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China. It is responsible for fiscal and tax development strategies and plans, government revenue distribution, and implementation of fiscal and tax policies. It has several units, including the General Office, Administrative & Law Enforcement Department, Tax Policy Department, and Budget Department. As the department for distributing and planning fiscal revenues, the Finance Ministry is responsible for ensuring the long-term, healthy development of China’s economy.

Challenges

China’s vigorous economy not only generates revenues, but also large amounts of fiscal, tax, and auditing data. The Finance Ministry needs to ensure that the data is correct and precise so that it can be used for risk prediction and capital monitoring. This puts heavy pressure on their IT system.

The Finance Ministry needed new resources to maintain the processing capability of its legacy service system and provide updated features for the new service system planned for 2014. New resources included:

  • Centralized scheduling and distribution
  • More powerful servers
  • A secure and stable bottom-layer operating platform with excellent performance to ensure that the IT system runs for a long time 

Since this system environment was built for basic core services such as the Treasury’s peripheral platform, capital management information system, and basic financial database, it required high reliability. The legacy database platform used a cluster of several mini-range computers working in Resource and Admission Control (RAC) or dual-node hot backup mode. With the rapid increase of users and data volume, concurrent users needed to scramble for available database resources.

Stability and reliability

Reliable new servers were needed to operate core services. If servers break down, service performance may be impaired or interrupted. For the Finance Ministry’s core basic services, such as the Treasury peripheral platform, capital management information system, and basic financial database, ensuring service persistence and reliability takes priority. This required that the database system and servers all needed to work in load-sharing or dual-node, hot-backup mode and ensure an annual average High Availability (HA) rate of at least 99.99 percent (“four-nines”). The legacy servers could not meet these performance goals.

Improved performance & quick provisioning

What’s more, a service platform was needed to allocate computing resources using virtualization technology, but the legacy servers could not meet the higher performance required. The Finance Ministry also was concerned about fast provisioning of new services and elastic resource allocation. The ministry’s IT department needed new servers that could meet those requirements.

Solution

In 2008, Huawei started an R&D project for error-tolerant computers with some banks inside China. As a result, Huawei was experienced in developing 8-socket, 16-socket, and 32-socket servers. Huawei also owned propriety technologies for high-end servers, including advanced NS chips for interconnection; Reliability, Availability, and Serviceability (RAS) features; and fault prediction. 

As a result, the Finance Ministry chose Huawei’s FusionServer RH5885 V3 4U 4-socket rack servers and RH8100 V3 8-socket servers for core services. Both servers employ Intel® Xeon® E7-4800 v2 series processors. The maximum number of cores per processor has been increased from 10 to 15, and cache capacity has been increased from 30 MB to 37.5 MB. These servers would replace the original mini-range computers, and serve as the foundation for a reliable, stable service system — just what the IT department was looking for.

High reliability

The FusionServer RH5885 V3 and RH8100 V3 provide chip-level, fault-tolerant features such as automatic recovery for processors and links, and support for many RAS features that protect services from interruption. Specifically, the new-generation servers support the reliability feature in memory mirroring, memory backup, and PCIe hot-swap. The RH8100 V3 exclusively features hot-swappable memory modules that prevent system interruption due to a memory hardware failure. Both servers enable hot-swap maintenance for key components, such as PSUs, fan modules, and hard disks, without needing to open chassis covers. As a result, the IT department can quickly replace faulty components during normal system operation, ensuring high system reliability.

High performance

The RH8100 V3 8-socket server for core services is Huawei’s flagship server, and uses 8 powerful Intel processors. This server provides excellent computing and extension capabilities and supports 60 RAS features that can be applied to integration and virtualization of key, large-scale applications and servers. 

The Huawei servers optimize virtualization software to match mainstream industry Operating Systems (OSs) and refresh SPEC and floating-point BMT records. Together with the Huawei FusionSphere Cloud OS, the servers provide a full series of software and hardware virtualization solutions.

Simple deployment

Since the Finance Ministry needed a constantly live network, Huawei helped the ministry’s IT department build two sets of database platforms. Each platform has a two-node server cluster working in load-sharing mode. In addition, basic resources required by partial service systems were virtualized for centralized scheduling and allocation. No extra physical machines were required, making deployment and new service provisioning quick and easy.

Benefits

In 2014, after a strict Proof-of-Concept (PoC) test of core basic services, the FusionServer RH5885 V3 and RH8100 V3 servers were put to use on the Finance Ministry’s service system operating environment. The environment includes the Treasury’s peripheral platform, capital management information system, and basic financial database. This helped the IT department implement stable and reliable services:

  • The new servers provided a 99.99 percent High Availability level that enabled smooth service migration from the legacy mini-range computers
  • The peripheral Treasury platform and office automation systems were migrated to the new service platforms, greatly improving service performance 
  • Service deployment and provisioning time was reduced from at least one day to about two hours
  • Rapid resource allocation improved the efficiency of maintenance and deployment

Huawei produces a wide variety of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) products that ensure high-quality standards of production and manufacture. For example, in testing the servers’ hard disks, Huawei not only used the industry-standard “burn” test, but also added a full-disk read-and-write test — much more than the usual random-sector test. In this way, Huawei makes sure that its ICT products provide the high performance and reliability users like the Finance Ministry need.

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