Founded in 1975, Universidade Vila Velha (UVV) has grown into the largest private university in Espirito Santo, Brazil. Its IT staff of 15 professionals is responsible for managing the entire UVV infrastructure, which is accessed by 1,500 faculty members and 18,000 students. UVV needed to replace its aging servers with a more efficient, flexible, high-performance, and cost-effective environment that would be easy to manage. Using the Windows Server® 2008 Enterprise operating system with Hyper-V™ technology and Microsoft® System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008, UVV cut server provisioning from four weeks to several hours, reduced data center energy consumption by 30 percent, streamlined the way it manages the environment, and is improving availability of its IT infrastructure.
Universidade Vila Velha (UVV) is the largest private university in Espirito Santo, Brazil. Founded in 1975, UVV has 1,500 teachers and faculty who serve nearly 18,000 students, dispersed among four campus locations. The university is well-known for using technology to ensure excellence in education. However, with a small IT staff of just 15 people responsible for the university’s entire infrastructure, much of which was aging, it was often difficult to manage everything efficiently.
One of the biggest challenges for UVV was managing 40 physical servers, many of which consisted of obsolete hardware. “We have database services—which contain information such as our library system where students search for books, and data on our first students, that are on a 30-year-old server,” says Rodrigo Immaginario, IT Manager for UVV. “It is extremely slow. To achieve better performance, we would have needed to upgrade the processor and get more disk space, but we didn’t want to spend the money required on such an old machine. And that is just one of many examples where our servers needed to be enhanced.”
||After comparing Hyper-V and VMware, we couldn’t find anything that would justify the cost of buying VMware. Hyper-V has all the capabilities VMware has; it can do everything we need, and it’s much less money.
IT Manager, Universidade Vila Velha
Another example can be seen in one of the UVV Web servers. “Because our students are technology savvy, they expect access to the latest and greatest in technology, such as blogs. It would be unacceptable to them if we couldn’t deliver that,” Immaginario says. “On this particular Web server, we host a blog that students and teachers use to exchange documents and information. There is a tremendous amount of activity on the blog and we needed a lot more disk space and memory than we had to handle it all.”
Complicating matters, some of the UVV servers are too old to have replacement parts available for purchase, so IT staff cannot upgrade them or fix them when there are problems.
UVV enrollment has grown approximately 10 percent a year for the past three years, which means the university needs additional space to use for classrooms, not servers. However, to handle the increase in IT requirements due to its growing student base, UVV would require more servers and, therefore, more space. “Our first priority for using space must be for classrooms,” says Immaginario. “We had to find a way to enable our infrastructure to grow without expanding the data center footprint.”
When UVV decided to replace its servers in early 2009, Immaginario began looking into server virtualization and management technologies. He notes, “I realized that virtualization could help optimize our server environment and reduce data center space requirements, while streamlining IT management tasks. As a bonus, it could also help us save money by running our infrastructure much more efficiently.”
When Immaginario started investigating virtualization solutions for Universidade Vila Velha, he first turned to Microsoft. “We have a strong relationship with Microsoft, which includes a great campus licensing agreement, so we always try to find Microsoft-based products for our technology needs,” he says.
Immaginario looked into the Hyper-V™ virtualization technology. He evaluated it against VMware because, although he prefers to use Microsoft® products, he also wants to ensure that UVV chooses the technologies best suited to its needs. “After comparing Hyper-V and VMware, we couldn’t find anything that would justify the cost of buying VMware,” he says. “Hyper-V has all the capabilities VMware has; it can do everything we need, and it’s much less money.”
In July 2009, UVV deployed the Windows Server® 2008 Enterprise operating system with Hyper-V. Windows Server 2008 Enterprise provides the rights to run four virtual instances of Windows Server per licensed physical server, which makes it a cost-effective solution for the university. It also includes failover clustering capabilities, which are critical to keeping the university’s servers up and running. And, with the Hyper-V Snapshot feature, UVV IT staff can capture the configuration, disk data, and state of a virtual machine and take multiple snapshots while the virtual machine is running. UVV plans to upgrade to Windows Server 2008 R2 by the end of 2009 to take advantage of Hyper-V R2, which has many new features—including live migration—which will help strengthen infrastructure availability and scalability.
UVV also deployed one instance of Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008 to convert its physical servers to virtual machines and to manage its virtual infrastructure. The university plans to upgrade its existing Microsoft Operations Manager 2005 solution to System Center Operations Manager 2007 R2 in the first quarter of 2010 to enhance the way it monitors the health of its server environment.
“Deploying the solution was easier than I thought it would be. And it took only one week,” says Immaginario. “With most new implementations, you run into some problems. But with this Microsoft project, there were no problems at all. It’s very stable and the machines run very well. Just as important, there was absolutely no interruption to the user base; our users didn’t even notice that we had deployed a new system.”
To date, UVV has used the physical-to-virtual conversion capability in System Center Virtual Machine Manager to convert 20 physical servers to virtual machines. It has virtualized its main Web server, several file servers, a printer server, and one domain controller. Fifteen of the virtual machines run on two HP DL380G5 servers with 32 gigabytes of RAM in a Windows Server 2008 cluster. The other five virtual machines run on another HP server.
Because the UVV IT department operates on a six-month budget, it must wait until the next budget cycle to purchase another HP server and then it will convert 15 more physical machines to Hyper-V–based virtual machines. By the time it completes the conversion project in December 2010, UVV expects to have 40 virtual machines running on four physical hosts.
Using Microsoft virtualization products, Universidade Vila Velha has been able to accelerate server provisioning, save money, reduce data-center requirements, improve performance of its IT infrastructure, and streamline the way it manages the environment.
“Microsoft virtualization has made a huge impact on our IT organization and on our ability to provide students the technology they need and expect,” Immaginario says. “It delivers everything we wanted: It improves server availability and performance, and it reduces our management time, space, and costs.”
Reduces Space, Saves Money
UVV addresses its space restrictions by consolidating the equipment needed for its server infrastructure. Instead of having 15 physical machines in three racks, it now uses one-half of a rack for one physical server that hosts 15 virtual machines. Reducing its data center footprint by more than two-thirds leaves UVV with ample room to grow.
||We’ve saved 30 percent in energy consumption costs already by reducing our physical servers. Once we completely convert to virtual machines, we expect to reduce space and energy costs by 50 percent.
IT Manager, Universidade Vila Velha
“We’ve saved 30 percent in energy consumption costs already by reducing our physical servers,” Immaginario says. “Once we completely convert to virtual machines, we expect to reduce space and energy costs by 50 percent.”
UVV has also saved money by using Hyper-V instead of VMware virtualization technology. “Because we have such a great campus licensing agreement with Microsoft, our Microsoft-based solution costs nearly six times less than it would have cost us to use VMware,” Immaginario explains.
UVV can now provision new servers as quickly as it needs them. In the past, it could take three to four weeks to deploy a new server, including time for pricing, acquiring, and configuring the physical machines. It now takes just a few hours. “We use the templates in System Center Virtual Machine Manager to easily create a new virtual machine. This is great because, if a teacher requests a new solution for his class, we can provide the environment that it needs to run on very quickly. This helps us be much more responsive to our users,” says Immaginario.
He also cites, as an example, the need for more capacity during enrollment time, when additional activity puts a lot of stress on the Web site and slows down performance and response times. “Now—using System Center Virtual Machine Manager and the Network Load Balance feature in Windows Server 2008, along with Microsoft ISA Server 2006— we have the flexibility to quickly create a new load balance solution just for that situation, and when we revert to normal activity levels we can easily reduce the load,” explains Immaginario.
Simplifies IT Management Tasks
Because the virtual machine–based environment runs on fewer physical servers, UVV IT staff spend less time and effort managing the environment.
“Our backup is greatly improved. In the past, we had to maintain a lot of documentation for every server, manually recover and reconfigure each problem server, and restore the data. Now we can easily backup and restore entire servers—not just data—and do it in half the time that it used to require,” says Immaginario.
Using the Snapshot functionality, UVV IT can revert back to any previous state by applying a snapshot to a virtual machine in a matter of seconds.
UVV can also be very specific in how it configures virtual machines so that performance is optimized. “We can configure exactly the resources our users need, whether they are space, memory, or processor–related,” says Immaginario. “By using Microsoft virtualization technology, we can improve our service levels, resolve problems, and address needs much faster than ever. It has freed us to work on more strategic IT projects instead of on problems.”
Supports High Availability Efforts
UVV designed its implementation in anticipation for Windows Server 2008 R2. As soon as it receives the license, it will upgrade to the new version and turn on the live migration feature to optimize availability. “Our entire solution is based on having high availability for users,” explains Immaginario. “Although we’ve been using Windows Server 2008 failover clustering capabilities with success, the servers do go down for a few seconds when we need to failover to another node. But with Windows Server 2008 R2 and Hyper-V 2.0, we’ll be able to move servers without any interruption at all; our servers will not stop for any reason.”
UVV plans to virtualize its most critical servers, such as its Microsoft SQL Server® 2008 data management software, which hosts the main UVV system for academic and financial information, once it deploys live migration in Windows Server 2008 R2. “This server already runs on our cluster solution with high availability, but after we have tested live migration on the new hardware, we’ll move it over to ensure optimal performance and reliability,” says
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 and links to similar case studies, visit the Microsoft Education solutions website for Virtualization:
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 Universidade Vila Velha products and services, call (27) 3421 2000 or visit the Web site at: