2 page Case Study - Posted 12/3/2009
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College Reduces Server Hardware by 65 Percent, Speeds Backups by 50 Percent
To resolve critical data-center cooling issues and provide more efficient disaster recovery, the College of Family Physicians of Canada deployed Windows Server® 2008 R2 and tools such as Microsoft® System Center Data Protection Manager 2007. As a result, the college has reduced its server footprint and cut data-center energy costs by about 65 percent. It has also sped backups by 50 percent and increased IT reliability, efficiency, and agility.
The College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC) is a not-for-profit organization that represents more than 22,000 members across the country. Through the national office in Mississauga, Ontario, and 10 provincial chapters, the CFPC establishes the standards for training, certifying, and educating family physicians. The college also accredits postgraduate family medicine training in the country’s 17 medical schools, and it advocates for family physicians and patients.
||The CFPC reduced the number of server computers from 17 to 6 by migrating servers to virtual machines on Windows Server 2008 R2.
Director of IT
The College of Family Physicians of Canada
The organization’s IT infrastructure is supported by a central data center with the exception of Web servers that are hosted by a third party. Originally set up in 1991 to contain one system, the data center had reached its capacity by 2008. With 17 server computers in the room, the cooling systems became ineffective, and high temperatures threatened server stability. In addition, the lack of space meant that administrators did not have room to set up failover clusters for all applications. Instead, one two-node cluster provided failover protection for a few mission-critical applications such as e-mail, which was provided by Microsoft® Exchange Server 2003 Enterprise Edition.
The college wanted to provide failover protection for all applications. IT staff also sought to enhance IT agility and disaster recovery. The existing process for backing up data to tape involved a third-party application. Slow and cumbersome, the process required the system to be offline. In addition, administrators had no way to manage systems remotely or to quickly adjust server configurations to better meet changing requirements. The college decided that it could meet its challenges by migrating servers to virtual machines (VMs).
After evaluating several virtualization products, the CFPC chose to deploy the Windows Server® 2008 R2 Datacenter operating system and create VMs with Hyper-V™ technology. By doing so, the college could save money because it would not have to pay for any instance of Windows Server that ran in a VM. “With the savings that the CFPC realized in licensing costs, the virtualization solution built with Hyper-V in Windows Server 2008 R2 cost 60 percent less than the other virtualization solutions we looked at,” says Dave Williams, Director of IT at the College of Family Physicians of Canada.
In addition, by deploying Windows Server 2008 R2, the college could take advantage of Cluster Shared Volumes to give multiple cluster nodes access to the same disk simultaneously, and it could use Live Migration to move VMs between physical hosts without disrupting service. The Hyper-V Management Console and the Windows PowerShell™ 2.0 command-line interface also would simplify server management and provide remote administration.
The college engaged Microsoft Gold Certified Partner Hyper Technologies to help design and implement the solution, which runs on three clustered HP ProLiant DL380 server computers. “The HP servers are designed to support virtualization,” explains Williams. “And they had just been released, so they offered more memory, more power, and new features like HP Systems Insight Manager and Integrated Lights-Out management.”
The college and Hyper Technologies migrated all applications to 12 VMs. They also deployed Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2007 to help manage the VMs, and they deployed Microsoft System Center Data Protection Manager 2007 to replicate all servers on a storage area network and on tape.
In 2010, the CFPC plans to set up a second data center so that servers can fail over to VMs at another location. The college may also use Remote Desktop Services in Windows Server 2008 R2 to virtualize employees’ desktops.
By implementing Windows Server 2008 R2 and System Center Data Protection Manager 2007, the CFPC has reduced both its server footprint and its data-center energy costs by about 65 percent, accelerated backups by 50 percent, and boosted IT efficiency, reliability, and agility.
- Increases efficiency and reliability. The new solution simplifies and accelerates server deployments. In the past, it took several weeks to deploy a new server; today, IT administrators can deploy a VM in less than one hour. “In just four weeks, we essentially ripped out our old infrastructure and replaced it with virtual machines supported by Windows Server 2008 R2—and the impact to users was nonexistent,” says Williams. Today, all servers can automatically fail over to any other cluster node and this provides greater reliability as well as resilience against disasters. Administrators also have new tools that streamline system management on-site and from remote locations. “With Windows Server 2008 R2, I have a rock-solid infrastructure that is easy to maintain, which gives IT personnel the time and ability to work on other projects,” Williams says.
- Reduces server hardware by 65 percent. The new solution boosts server utilization by 35 to 40 percent, making it possible to consolidate servers and lower data center costs. “The CFPC reduced the number of server computers from 17 to 6 by migrating servers to virtual machines on Windows Server 2008 R2,” explains Williams. “Because we were able to consolidate servers with Windows Server 2008 R2, our data center consumes one-third of the energy that it did in the past.”
- Accelerates backups by 50 percent. Today, administrators can set up automated processes that back up systems while they are online, so applications remain available to users. The time required to recover from outages will be reduced from days to hours, and system backups require less time to perform. “We’ve reduced the time required to back up systems by 50 percent with System Center Data Protection Manager,” says Williams.
- Boosts IT agility. With the new solution, the college can easily modify its infrastructure to accommodate change. “The flexibility we have gained with Windows Server 2008 R2 is amazing,” says Williams. “We can tune virtual servers to adjust to temporal changes, and we have created a virtualization environment that helps us test options and streamline software deployments. We will probably move our hosted Web servers on-site because our new environment is highly reliable and it can be scaled to quickly support an entire Web farm if necessary.”
Windows Server 2008 R2
Windows Server 2008 R2 is the latest version of the Windows Server operating system from Microsoft. With Windows Server 2008 R2, you can create solutions that are easier to plan, deploy, and manage than with previous versions of Windows Server. Building on the features, security, reliability, and performance provided by Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2008 R2 extends connectivity and control to local and remote resources. This means that your organization can benefit from reduced costs and increased efficiencies gained through enhanced management and control over resources across the enterprise.
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Document published November 2009