4-page Case Study - Posted 7/19/2010
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Austrian Ministry Consolidates Servers by 33 Per Cent with Virtualisation Solution
The Austrian Federal Ministry for Agriculture, Forestry, Environment, and Water Management is responsible for many of the country’s natural resources. Employees at the ministry wanted to work more closely with citizens to deliver a better level of service—responding to enquiries and providing information quickly. To help achieve this goal, the IT department planned to update a key environment, which it had virtualised in the past. While the infrastructure’s performance had been good, newer technology now offered greater performance. After reviewing the market, the ministry migrated to an environment running Windows Server 2008 R2 with Hyper-V and Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008 R2 on HP hardware. As a result of the move, the ministry has consolidated servers by 33 per cent, cut power use by 15 per cent, and increased availability to 99 per cent.Situation
The Austrian Federal Ministry for Agriculture, Forestry, Environment, and Water Management plays an increasingly important role in the governance of the country. With Austria’s natural resources coming under competing pressures from industry and conservationist groups, employees at the ministry—headquartered in Vienna—face many challenges. In general, its objectives are politically driven. However, the need for greater productivity and energy efficiency are two continuous goals that are unaffected by the party that is in power.
Each Austrian ministry is encouraged to deliver a better level of service to citizens. Although the directive covers many areas of day-to-day business, it’s principally concerned with quickly responding to enquiries and providing people with information fast. This is why the IT infrastructure—which serves the main office in Vienna and 40 brand offices—is so crucial. Georg Estelmann, Manager of Server and Infrastructure Group at the Austrian Federal Ministry for Agriculture, Forestry, Environment, and Water Management, says: “We’ve invested significant resources in creating an infrastructure through which personnel can share information quickly. Each citizen who receives a great service brings credit to our personnel and our IT strategy.”
The infrastructure has expanded over time, never more so than when the ministry—known at the time as the Ministry of the Environment—merged with the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry to become what it is today. Estelmann and his colleagues immediately took steps to ensure they could support the new ministry’s 1,200 end users. They worked with Microsoft and HP to create a virtualised environment based on Microsoft Virtual Server 2005—the latest virtualisation technology at the time—which supported applications such as Microsoft Exchange Server, Microsoft SQL Server data management software, and file and print services.
Despite the environment being a success, its hardware and software were superseded by newer, better-performing versions and eventually needed updating. Comments Estelmann: “We began the project with the same type of objectives as before—increasing management efficiency and reducing power consumption wherever possible. Furthermore, we needed to move to our new environment without any disruption to our end users.”Solution
The ministry reviewed possible hardware and software from competing vendors, but decided to retain a Microsoft and HP-based solution. “There was much in favour for both Microsoft and HP,” says Estelmann. Microsoft gave the ministry detailed insight into Windows Server 2008 R2 Datacenter with Hyper-V before it was released. “That Hyper-V would give us a cutting-edge virtualisation solution and our Microsoft Enterprise Agreement would minimise costs were the two key factors in our decision,” comments Estelmann. “Furthermore, the combination of Microsoft and HP could deliver a well-supported, high-performing infrastructure.”
Microsoft and HP then helped the ministry build a test environment, so that Estelmann and his colleagues could learn more about the technology. Their first impressions were excellent, and the ministry began to expand the test environment over a period of three weeks, until it effectively became the production environment, taking over the role of the previous infrastructure. “Microsoft and HP collaborated well throughout the engagement, and HP provided us with a single point of contact for any hardware or software questions,” says Estelmann.
The new production environment consists of Windows Server 2008 R2 with Hyper-V running on HP Proliant BL480c blade servers, supported by HP StorageWorks Enterprise Virtual Array (EVA) 8000 storage. The fully redundant infrastructure is divided between two data centres in different buildings in Vienna. Four host machines—two per data centre—are configured as a Hyper-V cluster, supporting approximately 40 virtual servers with the EVA 8000 system providing storage. Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008 R2 helps ensure that the ministry can centrally manage the hosts and virtual servers. Estelmann says: “The IT team is using System Center Virtual Machine Manager to create virtual servers and dynamically manage our resources.”Benefits
The ministry has achieved all its goals—namely, it has created a higher performance infrastructure that is simpler to manage and more energy efficient. Not only has it consolidated server numbers by 33 per cent, but it has also cut power use by 15 per cent and increased availability to 99 per cent. The adoption of Windows Server 2008 R2 with Hyper-V running on a HP environment has boosted the productivity of IT personnel, and, crucially, the ministry completed the project without any disruption to end users.
Greater Performance Helps Consolidate Servers by 33 Per Cent
The IT team removed 20 physical servers from the data centre after migrating to Windows Server 2008 R2 with Hyper-V running on the HP blades. “We’ve successfully consolidated our infrastructure by 33 per cent,” comments Estelmann. “In turn, it helped us to simplify management and reduce our energy use around powering and cooling the environment.”
Latest Virtualisation Software Helps Increase Energy Efficiency by up to 15 Per Cent
By implementing the new infrastructure, the ministry has significantly reduced power use. “Energy efficiency has been improved by up to 15 per cent as a result of our virtualised solution from Microsoft and HP,” says Estelmann. “This is an important achievement on our part because it helps the ministry achieve its long-standing goals of reducing our costs and environmental impact.”
Live Migration Increases System Availability to 99 Per Cent for End Users
The solution is also helping end users increase their productivity—another of the ministry’s key aims. This is because IT personnel have increased system availability from around 83 per cent to 99 per cent, thanks to new functionality within Hyper-V. Estelmann says: “People have gained greater support from IT, helping them improve performance and achieve their business goals more easily.” The Hyper-V clusters and Live Migration feature have delivered increased uptime. “Live Migration helps us to move virtual machines—while they’re running—from one node in the cluster to another, without any downtime. It’s a simple process that’s easy to complete,” says Estelmann.
Cutting-Edge Solutions Increase IT Productivity
With the new environment in place, administrative workloads have decreased and personnel can focus on higher-value tasks. “The success that we’ve had from this project has triggered a re-assessment of our whole IT landscape,” says Estelmann. “We would like to virtualise more systems—particularly some non-redundant systems—so that we can gain the same kind of efficiencies and performance improvements in other areas.”
Simple Tools Quickly Deliver Virtual Machines for Better Service
The IT team can launch a virtual server in just a few hours using a wizard-based user interface and approved templates. The current physical hosts can also safely support more virtual machines because of the redundancy that Microsoft and HP have helped to build into the infrastructure. Estelmann says: “We can deliver a better service to end users, simply by the fact that we can quickly provide them with new virtual servers when asked to do so.”
Excellent Collaboration Ensures Major IT Project Causes No Disruption
The ministry made it clear from the beginning that end users should not be
disrupted. Thanks to the collaboration between Microsoft and HP and the commitment of everyone who worked on the implementation, personnel across the ministry continued working throughout the project without any problems. “This was one of those projects where any feedback from end users would have been a bad sign. I believe the close working relationship that Microsoft and HP share was important to our success,” says Estelmann.Microsoft Server Product Portfolio
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For more information about The Austrian Federal Ministry for Agriculture, Forestry, Environment, and Water Management products and services, visit the Web site at: www.lebensministerium.atThis case study is for informational purposes only. MICROSOFT MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, IN THIS SUMMARY.