Australian conglomerate accelerates core applications with Cisco HyperFlex and Intel Optane SSDs

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Updated:October 20, 2020

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Updated:October 20, 2020

Wesfarmers Chemicals, Energy & Fertilisers (WesCEF) operates chemical, energy, and fertiliser businesses that serve a range of sectors in
Australian and international markets. The company employs roughly 1400 people and has a number of brands, including CSBP, Kleenheat,
Australian Gold Reagents, EVOL LNG, ModWood, Australian Vinyls, and Decipher. WesCEF is part of Wesfarmers Limited, one of Australia’s
largest publicly-listed companies. For more information, visit

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Executive summary

Customer Name: Wesfarmers Chemicals, Energy & Fertilisers

Industry: Chemicals, energy, and fertilizers

Location: Murdoch, Australia

Number of Employees: 1400


  Refresh and align two data centers
  Implement full data replication and disaster recovery
  Accelerate mission-critical applications


  Cisco HyperFlex™ Hyperconverged Infrastructure (HCI) with Intel® Xeon® Scalable processors and Intel® Optane™ Solid State Drives (SSDs)
  Cisco Intersight™ SaaS Systems Management Platform
  Cisco UCS® S3260 Storage Server
  Cisco Overlay Transport Virtualization (OTV)


  Reduced application latency to under four milliseconds 1
  Accelerated backups from 23 hours to 2 hours 1
  Established seamless, 60-second failover 1

Challenge: Stretch infrastructure environment across two data centers

With aging infrastructure systems and little to no storage capacity, Andrew Weighell was bracing for a serious hardware failure. And he feared it would happen in the middle of the night.


“Our two data centers were at full capacity,” the interim chief information officer for WesCEF recalls, citing years of business growth. “If one went down, we would have been forced to ration capacity for our businesses. Nobody wants to be the one picking and choosing which
applications—and which businesses—get to stay online.”


WesCEF’s IT team must support the technology needs of multiple business entities, several of which operate 24 hours a day and all of which rely heavily on core ERP applications like JD Edwards. If the performance of those applications suffer, it can affect WesCEF’s inventory tracking, transaction processing, and truck dispatching capabilities.


The time was ripe for a data center refresh.


“It’s not as if there was something wrong with what we had. We loved our Cisco UCS servers,” says Adem Cahtarevic, technology systems manager for WesCEF. “We just needed more capacity and better disaster recovery.”


“We also saw an opportunity to simplify everything,” adds Elliot Segler, senior cloud engineer at WesCEF. “We’ve been all-virtual since 2003 and were ready for the next phase of virtual storage, so we decided to look into hyperconverged infrastructure.”


After evaluating several solutions, WesCEF chose Cisco HyperFlex with Intel Xeon Scalable processors and Intel Optane SSDs.


“We wanted a platform that could span both of our data centers and wouldn’t require us to make application changes,” Weighell says. “Other solutions would have forced us to re-IP our legacy systems, some of which are 15 years old.”


WesCEF installed five-node Cisco HyperFlex clusters in each of its data centers and was able to stretch its Layer 2 domain across both sites using Cisco OTV. Integrated with Veeam Availability Suite, the active/active data centers provide synchronous data replication and seamless disaster recovery (DR). Backups that used to take 23 hours now take two hours1, and in the event of a failure, the entire environment can recover in 60 seconds1.



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Flash storage boosts performance, capacity

In addition to providing more consistency and resiliency, Cisco HyperFlex has delivered unanticipated levels of performance and capacity. Much of that is due to the platform’s deduplication and compression features that are tightly coupled with Intel Optane SSDs.


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“We had estimated how much more CPU and storage we’d get with the deduplication and compression technology, but it’s far more than we expected,” Segler adds.


Simplifying and automating IT operations

Using Cisco Intersight, WesCEF now manages its two physical data centers as one logical environment. But according to company leaders, the platform is largely automated and hands-off.


“We used to check our capacity on a daily basis. Now we look once every few months,” says Cahtarevic.


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Instead, the WesCEF IT team has shifted its focus to business enablement. From digital twin and analytics technologies to sensor plug-and-play and fluid edge computing to multicloud strategies that provide additional workload flexibility, the team now has the time and infrastructure to support whatever WesCEF’s brands may need.


“We are thrilled with the enhancements and opportunities these technologies will bring WesCEF. They’ll help us improve business performance, drive operational efficiency, and focus on strategic outcomes,” Weighell says. “Cisco HyperFlex is easy to deploy, simple to manage, and offers superior performance. It’s the heart of our technology environment, and we trust it to run all of our critical infrastructure.”


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1 Source: As reported by WesCEF from an interview and data provided in 2020.

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