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In January 2019, Baidu won the bid as the exclusive online platform for the CCTV Spring Festival Gala. However, the preparation period was shortened by 2/3 to only one month. The red-packet activity was projected to bring over one billion interactions per minute. For this, Baidu decided to build an ultra-large cluster of 10,000 servers.
The holiday season in China starts around one month before the Spring Festival. Fast and quality delivery is impossible when no order is placed in advance, no product is shipped, and almost all staff are preparing for the holiday. This was the problem faced by the Baidu System Department, and Inspur, a long time partner of Baidu, shared this problem. Most suppliers hesitated in front of the mission impossible, why Inspur can undertake such a tough task?
50,000 servers delivered in a short time: Baidu-Inspur teamed up to undertake the "mission impossible"
On New Year’s Eve, audiences from all over the world shared 900 million red-packet on the Baidu APP. The more downloads, registrations, logins, and interactions brought Baidu extreme traffic increase. If the IT infrastructure couldn't manage the traffic, it would cause poor user experience and APP downtime, which finally leads to a failed activity.
Considering the hundreds of millions of traffic in several hours during the Spring Festival Gala, Baidu must build a powerful, flexible, and stable IT infrastructure within a month. According to the calculation, this red-packet activity would need at least 100,000 servers, of which half can be borrowed from other projects and the other half (50,000) must be ready in place within one month.
Such a huge and pressing order is an unprecedented task for most server vendors. No error is allowed in any links, such as preparation of raw materials, coordination of the supply chain, the rapid expansion of productivity, timely logistics and delivery. At the same time, many suppliers face the shortage of manpower and raw material resources during the holiday season and are unable to flexibly adjust the production capacity.
As the top player in the internet industry, Inspur took this mission impossible for most server vendors as a perfect opportunity to prove its strength. With the strong and reliable supply capabilities, Inspur was the main force for the large-scale server procurement project of Baidu. In addition to the previous order of 40,000 servers within 2 months, Inspur undertook an urgent order of 10,000 servers within 2 weeks.
Safeguard the Baidu red-packet activity: production cycle shortened by 2/3, delivery efficiency increased by 20 times
For Inspur, the confidence to deliver 50,000 servers in less than 2 months relies on the four core capabilities: server design, manufacturing, distribution, and delivery. First, Inspur can expand production capability in a short period; second, Inspur builds a strong supply chain to ensure the supply of raw materials; third, Inspur develops mass-customized production capabilities for the internet industry; finally, Inspur has an experienced delivery team and mechanism.
Production capacity: through a series of transformations and upgrades, Inspur completed the production and delivery of 30,000 nodes in 15 days (normally at least 25 days). Facility efficiency was increased by 30% by adding 32 cabinet test points and 9 inspection points, upgrading manufacturing processes, optimizing the aging test and detection limits capability. The productivity was improved by up to 32% due to manufacturing process changes, modular technology, and 24*7 production. At the same time, Inspur increased the completion rate of the three-day test from 80% to 98%. Guided by the new production management system, Inspur broke down and distributed the task to groups: on-site engineers are responsible for analysis, aging test centers are for test and maintenance. Also, Inspur’s dedicated coordinator mechanism helps the internal discussion between different departments and external communication with clients, which speeds up problem-solving and improves production efficiency.
Supply chain: Inspur built global strategic partnerships with Intel, Cisco, IBM, and Seagate and developed a reliable technology and supply ecosystem. Also, Inspur created a major client supply protocol for demand prediction and prioritized supply. This helps accurate server demand prediction and allows Inspur to complete the order as scheduled. Besides, when there is any sudden demand, Inspur can arrange raw material resources and secure the order. In the Baidu red-packet project, Inspur took supply guarantee as the top priority when materials and production capacity were tight and demand fluctuated greatly during the holiday season. Inspur's senior leaders lead the team and the experienced employees stay on-site to make sure the raw material supply, laying a solid foundation for following production and delivery.
Mass customization: Inspur's industry-leading design and manufacturing capabilities for whole cabinet servers are one of the prerequisites for delivering 10,000 servers in a short time. Inspur has built the industry's first intelligent flexible production base, which has two intelligent flexible production lines and 10 production units operating in parallel. It can produce 10 cloud server nodes of different models at the same time, and then assemble in a unified heavy-duty assembly workstation. Full-process automation, IT management software, and flexible parallel production can satisfy the dynamic needs for cloud computing and big data customized products in less time. Since it was put into operation, Inspur cloud server production efficiency has increased by over 30%, which can carry sudden mass production tasks in the short term.
Logistics and delivery: Inspur achieved industry-leading efficiency during the holiday season of the Spring Festival. The efficient vehicle fleet and 24*7 warehouse operation accelerated product packaging, warehousing and delivery, and production and logistics are seamlessly connected. Inspur has a professional delivery engineer team, a standardized delivery process, supporting automation tools, and a visual management system, which can achieve streamlined delivery. In this project, the delivery of a cabinet took no more than 2 minutes. Inspur and Baidu set a new record of delivering 10,000 servers within 8 hours, one server every 2.88 seconds, at least 20 times the speed of generic server delivery.
Inspur's strong supply system and unprecedented efficiency supported Baidu to build a platform of 50,000 servers in two months to safeguard the Baidu red-packet activity. As a reliable partner for the internet industry, Inspur will always be committed to forward-looking technology and manufacturing capabilities. Combined with the sophisticated guarantee and service capability, the industry-leading infrastructure ecology helps users build a more efficient, flexible, stable, and reliable business system.