A1 Telekom Austria AG wanted to find a cost-effective way to meet customer needs for continuous availability. It had previously invested in virtualization technology and wanted to expand this initiative. But executives needed to ensure that by
moving servers to a virtual environment the company could still deliver the performance and reliability that its service level agreements required. A1 Telekom Austria AG decided to take part in the Rapid Deployment Program for Windows Server 2012. The company’s
IT Services team tested a number of features, including failover clustering functionality that is easy to deploy and manage, and storage options that offer flexibility. By adopting Windows Server 2012, A1 Telekom Austria AG is better equipped to take advantage
of virtualization to trim operating costs and meet customer demand for “always on” availability—while improving network performance.
A1 Telekom Austria AG is a subsidiary of the Telekom Austria Group. The company provides fixed and mobile telephone and Internet service to more than 7 million customers in Austria—nearly 90 percent of Austria’s 8.2 million citizens.
In addition to providing consumer-oriented home and entertainment services, A1 Telekom Austria AG delivers a range of offerings for business customers, including managed infrastructure services and application hosting. To keep its competitive edge, the company
must provide high availability for all of the communications and collaboration services that it delivers over its network.
For companies like A1 Telekom Austria AG, convergence—an industry trend that involves the increasing overlap of traditional broadcast, voice communication, and online platforms—has offered enormous growth opportunity. At the same time, it has amplified network
reliability and scalability challenges. “Customers nowadays expect ‘always on’ availability of the services that we host for them,” says Oliver Malfent, Head of Basic and Business Applications Experts at A1 Telekom Austria AG. “But with more and more data
traffic to manage and less room for error, the need to access dynamic, resilient network infrastructure is much greater.”
||Providing continuous availability for our customers is vital to our business. Windows Server 2012 provides a complete set of tools to help us deliver on that promise.
| Oliver Malfent
Head of Basic and Business Applications Experts, A1 Telekom Austria AG
A1 Telekom Austria AG faces the ongoing challenge of minimizing its data center costs while delivering the highest levels of network uptime, performance, and data integrity. Over the past several years, executives have sought to maximize the advantages of cloud
computing—the pooling of compute, storage, and network resources in a virtualized environment—to achieve this balance. A1 Telekom Austria AG has virtualized approximately 30 percent of its server holdings. Expanding server consolidation is a key part of a
larger corporate initiative to lower operating costs—while improving environmental sustainability practices.
The company has largely standardized on the Windows Server operating system. Its data centers consist of more than 1,500 HP ProLiant servers, most of which are powered by Windows Server 2008 R2. A relatively small number of these machines are configured
with Hyper-V, the virtualization component in Windows Server.
As the company looked to expand the scope of its virtualized server environment, IT Services executives placed a priority on improving network performance, simplifying tasks like configuring storage resources, updating server clusters, and strengthening
fault tolerance capabilities. Executives began to investigate the market for a solution that could help A1 Telekom Austria AG maximize storage and network availability, and ensure rigorous data protection under any circumstances.
A1 Telekom Austria AG was eager to participate in the Rapid Deployment Program for Windows Server 2012. With the assistance of Microsoft Services, the A1 Telekom Austria AG IT Services team set out to test the enhanced high-availability features in the
latest version of the operating system, including expanded failover clustering capabilities and the ability to use industry-standard storage for Hyper-V virtual machines. “What impressed us most about Windows Server 2012 was the depth of the improvements to
the networking and storage capabilities,” says Malfent. “We have so many different options now for increasing the resilience, performance, and mobility of our virtual server infrastructure. At the same time, we have an opportunity to reduce costs by replacing
specialized storage devices in the future.”
Straightforward Server Cluster Setup and Management
One of the capabilities that the A1 Telekom Austria AG team chose to evaluate was the advanced failover clustering functionality in Windows Server 2012. This set of features supports increased scalability, faster failover, easier management through automation,
and more flexibility in designing the architecture for a failover cluster.
To test this functionality, the team set up a four-node cluster. The cluster contained 35 virtual machines running Hyper-V in Windows Server 2012 on HP ProLiant DL380 servers. The team opted to use the graphical user interface approach to creating the cluster
using the improved Failover Cluster Manager snap-in. “To get started, we used the wizard-based tools,” says Malfent. “It was extremely easy to connect the cluster servers to the network and storage resources, and validate support for failover. We’re also interested
in exploring the use of Windows PowerShell to automate tasks like adding nodes to a cluster and running validation checks on cluster hardware.”
High-Performance File-Sharing Storage for Server Applications
For Malfent and his colleagues on the Systems Engineering team, the key to simplifying the use of failover clusters lies in the improvements to the Server Message Block (SMB) protocol, the default network file-sharing method used by the Windows operating
system. The latest version of the protocol released with Windows Server 2012, SMB 3.0 (SMB3) includes a number of new capabilities that support its use as an alternative to more costly storage area network (SAN) components.
||Server Message Block 3.0 in Windows Server 2012 is a major breakthrough. It offers reliable, scalable storage comparable to Fibre Channel solutions—and it’s so much easier to implement and manage.
| Oliver Malfent
Head of Basic and Business Applications Experts, A1 Telekom Austria AG
The company expects to use Scale-Out File Server, introduced with SMB3 in Windows Server 2012, to quickly adapt to increased demand for network bandwidth. This feature ensures that all of the file server nodes in a cluster provide continuously available storage
access to file-based server applications. In Windows Server 2008 R2, applications could access storage on a single server node, which restricted bandwidth. “Server Message Block 3.0 in Windows Server 2012 is a major breakthrough,” says Malfent. “It offers
reliable, scalable storage comparable to Fibre Channel solutions—and it’s so much easier to implement and manage.”
Virtual Machine Mobility
A1 Telekom Austria AG also tested the ability to perform multiple, simultaneous live migration operations to move virtual machines between hosts while they are running—without any interruption in service. These operations can be performed on virtual
machines running in both clustered and non-clustered environments. A1 Telekom Austria AG migrated storage and networking components for several Hyper-V virtual machines between two nodes in a file server cluster. It also tested the use of a standard Ethernet
connection to complete the transfer of virtual machine configuration data between servers, an approach known as “shared nothing” live migration.
“The live migration tests went very smoothly,” says Malfent. “We experienced no downtime on any of the virtual machines that we moved, and workload performance throughout the migration process was stable.”
By upgrading to Windows Server 2012, A1 Telekom Austria AG is better equipped to expand its virtualization efforts as a way of reducing data center costs—while supporting its customers’ needs to scale capacity at a moment’s notice. “Providing continuous
availability for our customers is vital to our business,” says Malfent. “Windows Server 2012 provides a complete set of tools to help us deliver on that promise.”
Increased Storage Flexibility, Lowered Costs
IT executives at A1 Telekom Austria AG appreciate the flexibility that they gain through the option to use highly scalable file-sharing storage to support Hyper-V workloads. After testing Scale-Out File Server and other capabilities enabled by SMB3,
Malfent sees increasing parity between file-sharing storage in Windows Server 2012 and more costly SAN solutions. The company is evaluating replacing some of its SAN-based storage with standard file server storage capabilities offered through the solution.
“SMB3 in Windows Server 2012 opens up a lot of opportunities for us to reduce costs by using our existing storage infrastructure,” says Malfent. “Whereas moving away from block storage was never a real possibility before, it’s definitely something that we’re
looking into now.”
Faster, Easier Deployment of Failover Clusters
A1 Telekom found that it was easier in Windows Server 2012 to create failover clusters by using the Failover Cluster Manager feature. Clicking through the wizard-based interface, the team was able to select the servers for the cluster, allocate storage
and networking components, and validate the configuration in minutes. “The ability to run validation tests and reports through the wizard makes it even easier to move servers into a clustered environment,” says Malfent. A1 Telekom Austria AG also used the
Scale-Out File Server capabilities to simplify the creation of an active/active cluster, in which all of the nodes can serve SMB client requests to improve bandwidth and application performance.
Continuous Availability to Meet Customer Needs
Through the use of enhanced live migration capabilities, A1 Telekom Austria AG will be able to minimize downtime from planned maintenance events and unplanned failures. The company plans to take full advantage of the performance and scalability advancements
and cost-effective storage options enabled by the solution to increase agility and trim operating expenses—while providing improved service to customers. “All of the improvements to SMB and Failover Clustering in Windows Server 2012 make it easier to support
our customers’ needs for continuous availability,” says Malfent.
Windows Server drives many of the world’s largest data centers, empowers small businesses around the world, and delivers value to organizations of all sizes in between. Building on this legacy, Windows Server 2012 redefines the category, delivering hundreds
of new features and enhancements that span virtualization, networking, storage, user experience, cloud computing, automation, and more. Simply put, Windows Server 2012 helps you transform your IT operations to reduce costs and deliver a whole new level of
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