Tokio Marine & Nichido Fire Insurance Co., Ltd. (Tokiomarine-Nichido) planned to replace Windows XP on its 26,000 virtual PCs. To reduce costs, Tokiomarine-Nichido considered upgrading the operating system without changing its existing hardware.
During a series of consultations with NEC Corporation and Microsoft, Tokiomarine-Nichido obtained assessment data that showed that using Hyper-V in Windows Server 2012 Datacenter would resolve the issue.
Tokio Marine & Nichido Fire Insurance Co., Ltd. (Tokiomarine-Nichido) was established in 2004 as a result of a merger between Tokio Marine & Fire Insurance Co., Ltd. and Nichido Fire and Marine Insurance Co., Ltd., each of which had a history of more
than 100 years. The company’s strengths are: a healthy financial standing, products supported by a high level of expertise, service development capability and risk consulting power, and a substantial agency network and damage service. The company shows continued
In 2010, Tokiomarine-Nichido migrated employees' PCs to a virtual PC thin client system, “VirtualPC Center,” running on the VMware Infrastructure 3.5. “It was a pioneering project to virtualize 26,000 terminals across the group using a thin client system,”
says Kazumi Kumagai, Solution Producer, Open Infrastructure Department, IT Services Division, Tokio Marine Nichido Systems Co., Ltd. “Because it was a key decision for Tokiomarine-Nichido at that time, we took a cautious approach. First, we had a one-year
test project in the IT Planning Department of Nichido Fire Insurance in order to ensure that the system would work successfully. Then, we started the implementation of virtual PCs.” Kumagai was in charge of this system.
Although the thin client system worked successfully, it became necessary to replace Windows XP, the operating system of the virtual PCs, to a newer one because it was announced that the support of Windows XP would expire in April 2014. However, if the operating
system was replaced with the Windows 7 or Windows 8 operating system, the company would need more resources than what Windows XP required, and it would be impossible to support all of the virtual PCs using the existing hardware. In order to save costs, Tokiomarine-Nichido
had to find a way to upgrade the operating system while making use of its existing hardware.
At that time, Tokiomarine-Nichido was offered a proposal by NEC, which had designed and built the thin client system. NEC suggested that the company use the Hyper-V technology in the Windows Server 2012 Datacenter operating system, which would be released in
September 2012. Tokiomarine-Nichido decided to ask NEC to conduct a test to produce data for consideration, which then would be jointly assessed by Tokiomarine-Nichido, NEC, and Microsoft.
||Based on the results of the simulation test, we recognized that Hyper-V in Windows Server 2012 can ensure the performance we need for Windows 7 and Windows 8, even using our existing hardware.
| Takehiro Maruyama
Assistant Manager, Open Infrastructure Department, IT Services Division, Tokio Marine Nichido Systems Co., Ltd.
NEC conducted a simulation test by using a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) environment evaluation tool and a beta release of Windows Server 2012 to determine whether the operating system could provide the required performance in the existing hardware environment.
The result was successful. “The conventional hypervisor can provide sufficient performance for Windows XP, but not for newer operating systems such as Windows 7 and Windows 8. However, Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V technology offers advanced capabilities, which
means that it can support newer operating systems with high performance,” says Hakusei Liu, Manager, 3rd Financial Solutions Division, NEC Corporation.
At the time, corporations had just started to introduce virtualization environments into their systems. Although there were examples of replacing guest operating systems, there were very few examples of replacing the hypervisor platform system itself. However,
the results of the simulation test conducted by NEC gave Tokiomarine-Nishido confirmation that the Hyper-V technology in Windows Server 2012 offers high performance. It was clear that a better way to reduce cost without changing existing hardware would be
to upgrade the operating system together with the hypervisor platform.
With the help of NEC and Microsoft, Tokiomarine-Nichido built a test environment that used Windows Server 2012 beta production machines and the same hardware configuration as that of the production environment. Then, a comparative test of VMware and Windows
Server 2012 Hyper-V technology was conducted in that environment. “The test confirmed that VMware cannot provide the required performance. Based on the results of the simulation test, we recognized that Hyper-V in Windows Server 2012 can ensure the performance
we need for Windows 7 and Windows 8, even using our existing hardware. We decided to prepare for implementation in the production environment,” says Takehiro Maruyama, Assistant Manager, Open Infrastructure Department, IT Services Division, Tokio Marine Nichido
Systems Co., Ltd.
The company created a pilot project. In that environment, virtual PCs with the Windows 8 operating system run on a virtual infrastructure that has a Hyper-V cluster configuration consisting of four Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V servers. The company is also
conducting a trial use of the newer system in the pilot environment. Developers are creating and removing virtual PCs as required, to determine whether the system can work successfully. Also, employees are using the system so that they can become familiar
with these new virtual PCs.
Based on the pilot test, Tokiomarine-Nichido will create a scenario of the overall implementation plan and then design a way to upgrade the 26,000 PCs.
Tokiomarine-Nichido found a way to upgrade its virtual PCs to a newer operating system while making use of its existing hardware. “We discovered that we could utilize the hardware assets of the conventional thin client system effectively in Windows Server 2012
Hyper-V technology,” says Kumagai.
The company also looks forward to the benefit of using the technology’s features. “By using Windows Server 2012, a major benefit for us is that we have choices, not just in terms of performance but also of features. For example, because the method of memory
management depends on which hypervisor is used, we can select the most suitable method,” says Liu.
If all of its 26,000 employees used the same amount all the time, the company would not need to be concerned about handling memory management. However, the amount of memory required is actually around 1 gigabyte (GB) when employees do general jobs, but is
temporarily increased to 2 or 3 GB when they do other things, such as viewing streaming videos. It would be costly to add extra memory to support such temporary demands.
Using Hyper-V in Windows Server 2012 is a great help in this situation because its dynamic memory function allows users to dynamically manage memory. With less memory, virtual PCs can run efficiently and smoothly by allocating the required amount of memory
to users as needed, instead of allocating a fixed amount of memory.
Using its pilot environment, Tokiomarine-Nichido will continue to do more testing to discover other features that will be useful.
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