OMS is one of the largest IT and education professional services providers in the Middle East, with training facilities in Egypt and the United Arab Emirates. It wanted to improve performance and cut costs by moving its training center laboratories to a virtual environment. Microsoft recommended Hyper-V technology. With virtual machines, technicians now spend 35 percent less time arranging laboratory classes and students enjoy a better learning experience.
OMS is a professional IT services and solutions provider. The firm has more than 170 government and private sector customers in 23 countries across Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. OMS maintains strategic partnerships and alliances with key technology vendors in the IT industry, such as Microsoft, HP, Symantec, and EMC. Based on these partnerships, OMS is authorized to deliver different types of training services to its customers, including official courses, boot camps, and custom multivendor training programs.
Until recently, OMS training courses were prepared in its laboratories by installing software on physical computers and servers. The process involved a separate build for each student and required substantial resourcing.
Due to the large number of certifications from different vendors and the complexity of the courses provided, the IT environment was a heterogeneous one, with OMS using both Microsoft and Linux operating systems to deliver training courses.
Basem El-Saeed, Chief Technology Officer at OMS, says: “The physical build was extremely time consuming, taking up to six hours, which tied up considerable technician time. If students made a mistake, it was difficult to correct quickly and the learning session was interrupted while we reset the machine. We were looking for ways to reduce costs and optimize performance in the laboratories.”
OMS was interested in making an investment in virtualization as a means to improve productivity and increase customer satisfaction with its training programs. El-Saeed says: “The choice was either VMware or Microsoft. However, our training laboratories use SUSE Linux Enterprise Server technology.”Solution
OMS decided to invest in the Windows Server 2008 R2 operating system with Hyper-V virtualization technology—with the existing Linux open-source technology running on top of it. The virtualized environment is supported by the Microsoft System Center suite of products.
To address the interoperability challenge, OMS used Hyper-V Linux Integration Components. These tools provide driver support for synthetic devices—the high-performance controls in Hyper-V that have been developed specifically for virtualized environments. They take advantage of the new high-speed bus, VMBus, which was developed for Hyper-V to improve the speed of completing tasks inside virtual machines using Windows Server 2008 R2.
Kareem Salah, Platform Strategy Manager at Microsoft Egypt, thinks that this commitment to openness is part of a change of strategy by Microsoft. “We have changed as a company and become more open in our approach to standards and open-source technology. Our business partnership with OMS using open-source technology is indicative of the current market dynamic in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa as a whole,” he says.
From a licensing perspective, El-Saeed considered Hyper-V a more cost-effective solution than VMware because of its integration capabilities with existing infrastructure. “There was much better performance with the existing mechanism. Hyper-V was far more competitive when we looked at its performance as well as the much lower licensing cost, which was a major consideration for us in the current economic climate,” says El-Saeed. In addition, OMS enjoys a strong technical relationship with Microsoft Egypt, which named OMS its Microsoft Partner of the Year in 2010 and handed out a second award for Best Solution of the Year in 2010. Benefits
OMS is extending the life cycle of its IT assets, having moved its laboratories to a virtualized environment using Windows Server 2008 R2 with Hyper-V and the Microsoft System Center suite of products. Customers now receive an improved service with no interruptions to training if students make mistakes. El-Saeed says: “The time taken to provision a new laboratory for a training session has been reduced by 35 percent, which represents a considerable saving in technician time.”
Virtualization designed with interoperability in mind. OMS benefitted from the interoperability of Hyper-V because it supported both its Linux and Microsoft operating systems. El-Saeed says: “Microsoft supported our decision to use any vendor technology because of its openness policy. We were not locked into Microsoft solutions.”
OMS makes significant operational savings with Hyper-V. The Microsoft virtualization platform is expected to help achieve savings in operational costs at the training laboratories compared to the previous solution.
Technicians save time in setting up training laboratories. OMS used to take up to six hours to provision physical machines separately, but this now takes 35 percent less time. El-Saeed says: “We are much more productive and the training runs more smoothly.”
Students can return virtual machines easily to any point in time. El-Saeed says: “The snapshot feature of Hyper-V means students can return the virtual machine to any point in time, whenever they choose. The snapshot functionality can be used for features such as performing image level backups of the virtual machines without having to shut them down.”
OMS extends the life of existing IT assets. With Hyper-V in the training laboratories, OMS forecasts that it will become possible to extend the life cycle of its existing IT assets. El-Saeed says: “There will be no need to replace the physical machines every three years.”
Management tools help automate and simplify operational controls. Managing the virtualized platform has become easier with the Microsoft System Center suite of management software, which means technicians can monitor the system through a single console.This case study is for informational purposes only. MICROSOFT MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, IN THIS SUMMARY.