4-page Case Study
Posted: 3/11/2009
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SABMiller RUS International Brewer Cuts IT Costs 48 Percent with Virtualized Server Environment

SABMiller RUS is a subsidiary of one of the world’s largest brewers, SABMiller plc, which has operations on six continents.  The company maintains a variety of information services for business users, allocating a dedicated server for each service. As SABMiller RUS grew and expanded IT services, its main data center soon grew to accommodate 48 servers, increasing hardware, energy, and management costs while reducing system efficiency and reliability. To reduce costs, increase efficiency, and improve IT responsiveness to business needs, SABMiller RUS needed to optimize its server infrastructure. The company virtualized its servers with Windows Server® 2008 featuring Hyper-V™ virtualization technology, which helped consolidate its environment to just six physical servers, reduce costs 48 percent, accelerate service deployment from weeks to hours, and increase server utilization tenfold.


SABMiller RUS, a subsidiary of SABMiller plc, distributes ten brands in the Russian beer market, including well-known SABMiller international premium brands such as Peroni Nastro Azzurro, Miller Genuine Draft, Pilsner Urquell, and Grolsch. SABMiller RUS also distributes local brands such as Zolotaya Bochka, Tri Bogatyrya, Moya Kaluga, and premium licensed Redd’s, Velkopopovicky Kozel, and Holsten.

The IT department at SABMiller RUS provides a variety of information services to its internal business users, allocating a dedicated server computer for each service. As SABMiller RUS grows, it needs to expand IT services and quickly deploy those services, which has led to an increase in the number of servers the company has to maintain. The main data center grew to accommodate 48 servers, which hosted business-critical applications and ran the Windows Server® 2003 Standard operating system.

Isolating each service on its own server simplifies maintenance and updates, helps boost reliability, and eliminates application incompatibilities and conflicts. However, the “one service, one server” approach resulted in the underutilization of the company’s servers, with an average CPU load of 1 percent to 3 percent. As the demand for services grew, SABMiller RUS had to tolerate an increasingly idle IT infrastructure.

“Each infrastructure component, besides the equipment purchase costs, entails many additional costs, such as rack space, cooling, power, a port in the switch, a port in the management console, and extended support,” says Mikhail Tolchelnikov, IT Service Delivery Manager at SABMiller RUS. “All of which adds up to a considerable amount, despite the server working at only several percent of its capacity.”

* The virtualization project based on Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V helped us to cut infrastructure costs by 48 percent, and we expect a return on investment of an estimated 234 percent. *

Nina Tatsiy
IS Manager, SABMiller RUS

To help ensure the reliable availability of business-critical applications, SABMiller RUS develops failover cluster environments by installing a single application on a cluster of multiple physical servers. If one server experiences problems, the application can still be delivered by other servers in the cluster. But this method required SABMiller RUS to purchase and then underutilize at least one additional server per business-critical application. Additionally, power consumption restrictions and the complexity associated with deploying failover server clusters made it difficult for SABMiller RUS to meet the increasing reliability requirements for its business-critical services.

The company developed a large pool of servers, all working at a minimum workload, without adequately providing the necessary service availability. For instance, the company deployed its SAP Portal system on five physical servers, and the software vendor suggested using as many as 20 servers to create a failover cluster that would adequately support the system configuration.

Almost every month, the IT department receives requests from various departments to deploy a new service. If there were no unused servers available, the company has to purchase at least one new server to accommodate each service request, and it can take more than a month to order the equipment, install it, and deploy the required application.

“We spend a lot on equipment and react slowly to business needs, and provisioning new servers places a heavy burden on the IT department,” says George Dauman, Technical Team Leader at SABMiller RUS.

To improve its responsiveness to business needs and the efficiency of its IT infrastructure, SABMiller RUS needed to reduce the implementation time of new services while easing its IT burden and reducing data center maintenance and support costs. The company also needed to provide adequate reliability in its application environment while consolidating its physical servers and increasing server utilization.


SAB Miller RUS recognized that it could use virtualization technology to reduce the number of physical servers in its data center, consolidate workloads, and enhance the availability of applications and services. “Virtualization could help us upgrade server and applications, reduce the complexity of the company’s IT infrastructure, and respond quicker to the demands of our business,” says Dauman.

After SABMiller RUS specialists analyzed available virtualization solutions, the company initiated a project to virtualize its server environment with Hyper-V™ virtualization technology, a feature of the Windows Server 2008 operating system. The company chose to manage its virtual server environment using Microsoft® System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008.

“Hyper-V contains all the functionality we need at an attractive price and allows us to maximize performance when working with networking and storage devices,” says Tolchelnikov. 

SABMiller RUS counted on the knowledge and experience of Microsoft Gold Certified Partner Energy Consulting to help the company implement the project in two stages over the course of two months. First, the company executed a trial deployment, transferring e-mail, sales support, and several other services to a virtual environment. The second stage included clustering virtual servers and deploying business-critical applications in a failover configuration.

The company deployed its virtual environment on six HP physical servers in three clusters with two nodes each, and an additional cluster in its test lab. SABMiller RUS is running more than 20 virtual servers in this failover configuration. Each service works on a separate virtual server, preventing application conflicts. The physical servers that were no longer needed in the data center were sent to the regional offices.


By using Hyper-V technology to virtualize its physical servers, SABMiller RUS optimized its server environment, accelerated new service deployment, enhanced server reliability and utilization, and reduced maintenance and support costs.

Reduced Costs

SABMiller RUS reduced IT costs by a total of 48 percent, and savings in individual areas were even higher. The IT department saved 75 percent in provisioning costs due to increased efficiency, and realized a 64 percent savings by avoiding both planned and unplanned down time (see Figure 1 for more detailed information).

“The virtualization project based on Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V helped us to cut infrastructure costs by 48 percent, and we expect a return on investment of an estimated 234 percent,” says Nina Tatsiy, IS Manager at SABMiller RUS.

Because the company purchases fewer physical servers for its virtualized environment, SABMiller RUS reduced equipment costs and drove additional savings in energy costs for power and cooling, system software licenses, equipment space, warranty service, maintenance, and support. “A server rack occupies 3 to 5 square meters of space,” says Dauman. “By decreasing the server count, we are saving tens of thousands of dollars annually in rental fees alone.”

Figure 1: Detailed information on cost savings
per three-year virtualization project benefit analysis
The economic effect from the implementation project was calculated based on the Microsoft Integrated Virtualization ROI Analysis model developed by Alinean (Figure 1).  The tool is available at: www.microsoft.com/virtualization/roitool/default.mspx  

Optimized Server Infrastructure

By virtualizing the servers running business-critical applications in failover clusters and managing the virtual environment with System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008, SABMiller RUS optimized its server infrastructure, significantly improving the reliability of IT services while shrinking its physical server pool.

With a more efficient, agile environment, IT can respond faster to business needs while achieving significant cost savings. With Hyper-V, SABMiller RUS deployed an information environment on six physical servers that would have required more than 40 physical servers before, and the company is deploying its SAP Portal on just two physical servers while ensuring high availability.

“To deploy the SAP Portal in a failover cluster, the vendor recommended using 20 servers, including testing and development servers,” says Tolchelnikov. “With Hyper-V, we built a failover cluster for our SAP Portal infrastructure with only two physical servers, 10 times fewer physical servers than we would need in a purely physical environment!”

Accelerated Service Deployment

By developing a virtualized server infrastructure, SABMiller RUS accelerated the deployment of new services 120 times. “Because IT required a new physical server to deploy each new service, it could take four to eight weeks to deliver new applications to business users,” says Tolchelnikov. “With Hyper-V, the IT department can deploy a new virtual server to host any new business service in as little as two hours.”

Easy Manageability

With the familiar interface in the System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008 console, IT personnel quickly learned how to efficiently manage, support, and scale the company’s new virtualized data center. “System Center Virtual Machine Manager is, in our opinion, the most advanced virtual infrastructure management system on the market, and it integrates beautifully with our existing Microsoft management infrastructure,” says Tolchelnikov.

Moving forward, SABMiller RUS intends to enhance efficiencies in the virtual environment by automating infrastructure management and implementing automatic event monitoring and response tools.

Enhanced Reliability and Utilization

By reducing its total server count and deploying servers in failover clusters, SABMiller RUS enhanced system reliability and enabled IT administrators to quickly isolate potential failure points.

With Hyper-V technology, the company consolidated its server infrastructure and significantly increased the utilization of its computing resources. “When we virtualized our server environment using Hyper-V technology, we increased IT resource utilization more than tenfold,” says Dauman.

Microsoft Virtualization
Microsoft virtualization is an end-to-end strategy that can profoundly affect nearly every aspect of the IT infrastructure management lifecycle. It can drive greater efficiencies, flexibility, and cost effectiveness throughout your organization. From accelerating application deployments; to ensuring systems, applications, and data are always available; to taking the hassle out of rebuilding and shutting down servers and desktops for testing and development; to reducing risk, slashing costs, and improving the agility of your entire environment—virtualization has the power to transform your infrastructure, from the data center to the desktop.

For more information about Microsoft virtualization solutions, go to:

For More Information

For more information about Microsoft products and services, call the Microsoft Sales Information Center at (800) 426-9400. In Canada, call the Microsoft Canada Information Centre at (877) 568-2495. Customers who are deaf or hard-of-hearing can reach Microsoft text telephone (TTY/TDD) services at (800) 892-5234 in the United States or (905) 568-9641 in Canada. Outside the 50 United States and Canada, please contact your local Microsoft subsidiary. To access information using the World Wide Web, go to:

For more information about Energy Consulting products and services, visit the Web site at:

For more information about SAB Miller RUS products and services, visit the Web site at:

Solution Overview

Organization Size: 1800 employees

Organization Profile

SABMiller RUS is a subsidiary of one of the world’s largest brewers, SABMiller plc, which has brewing interests and distribution agreements across six continents.

Business Situation

SABMiller RUS needed to consolidate its server environment and optimize its IT infrastructure to enhance reliability, reduce costs, increase efficiency, and improve IT responsiveness.


SABMiller RUS used Windows Server® 2008 featuring Hyper-V™ virtualization technology to virtualize its 48 physical servers, and manages its virtual environment with Microsoft® System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008.

  • Reduced costs
  • Optimized server infrastructure
  • Accelerated service deployment
  • Easy manageability
  • Enhanced reliability and utilization

Software and Services
  • Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V
  • Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008
  • Windows Server 2008

Vertical Industries
Consumer Goods


Business Need
  • Cloud & Server Platform
  • Business Productivity

IT Issue


Energy Consulting