4-page Case Study
Posted: 10/4/2012
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Acer Computer Manufacturer Reduces Data Center Costs by $600,000 a Year with Upgrade

As one of the world’s largest manufacturers of computer equipment, Acer knows a thing or two about data center efficiency. That’s why it is upgrading to the Windows Server 2012 Datacenter operating system to take advantage of improvements in virtualization density, network virtualization, cluster updating, and more. By standardizing on the Hyper-V technology in Windows Server 2012, Acer expects to reduce costs in its Taiwan data center by US$600,000 a year—and quintuple those savings when it deploys the operating system to all global data centers. Acer has been able to triple virtualization density and make its IT staff more efficient through increased automation. It can now virtualize more broadly and respond faster to business needs. Acer will also generate new revenue by pairing Windows Server 2012 with the Acer AW2000h w/AW170h F2 server for the high-density virtualization market.

Situation
Acer is a multinational hardware and electronics corporation headquartered in Taipei, Taiwan. Acer products include desktop and laptop PCs, tablet computers, servers, storage devices, displays, smartphones, and peripherals. It also provides e-business services to businesses, governments, and consumers. Acer is one of the largest PC makers in the world and employs nearly 8,000 people.

Acer has grown steadily over the last several years, causing its IT infrastructure to also expand steadily. By early 2012, Acer had hundreds of servers in five global data centers, with business units demanding more servers every month. To stem server proliferation, Acer had employed virtualization technologies—Hyper-V technology in the Windows Server 2008 R2 operating system for its Windows-based servers and VMware for its Linux-based servers.

However, maintaining two different virtualization environments added complexity and cost, and IT management wanted to consolidate and standardize wherever possible. “Some of our application environments, such as our collaboration and document-sharing environment based on Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010, were growing very fast and consuming more and more servers,” says Harry Richards, Group Enterprise Architect at Acer. “One bottleneck to driving data center consolidation was the cost of VMware. The cost of deploying it broadly in production environments was very high.” Acer also ran into virtualization density limits (the number of virtual machines that could fit in a host server) with both VMware and Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V, which required it to buy more physical servers.

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* After virtualizing our Taiwan data center using Windows Server 2012, we expect to save $600,000 a year. The potential savings across all our global data centers could be up to five times higher. *

Harry Richards
Group Enterprise Architect, Acer

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In addition to wanting to lower data center costs and management complexity, Acer had to maintain high availability in the face of increased virtualization. If it was going to run even more applications on a given physical server, the availability of that server would be more critical than ever.

For sheer market nimbleness, Acer needed to push virtualization further. “The IT staff did not want to be a bottleneck to business growth,” Richards says. “We wanted to deploy servers as quickly as the business units needed them, and the only way to do that was to virtualize pervasively and remove hardware from the equation.”

Solution
Richards and his colleagues had watched the development of the Windows Server 2012 operating system and were keen to participate in its Rapid Deployment Program (RDP). “We were amazed at the Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V scale-out capacity and ability to provide better connectivity to cloud services,” Richards says.

Team Effort in Creating Proof of Concept
Microsoft Services worked closely with Acer during the RDP, setting up a test environment and working through challenges as they arose. Acer tested Windows Server 2012 Datacenter on its own new Acer AW2000h w/AW170h F2 server, designed for the high-density virtualization market. The Acer AW2000h w/AW170h F2 consists of a compact 2U enclosure with four nodes (physical servers) and a shared power supply. Each node contains two processor sockets, for up to eight Intel Xeon E5-2600 series processors. The AW2000h w/AW170h F2 is designed for high-performance computing, clustered virtual environments, and cloud scenarios.

For the RDP, Acer built a Hyper-V cluster with 16 nodes and 1,009 virtual machines. “I tried to drive the maximum number of virtual machines on one sever by using the Hyper-V live migration feature,” says Oliver Wu, Senior Manager of Corporate Infrastructure for Acer. “I succeeded in getting 119 virtual machines on one server. Theoretically, we should be able to get 119 times 16 or 1,904 virtual machines in our infrastructure. The only reason I didn’t deploy 1,904 virtual machines is because those servers shared resources with our production systems, and I tried to be safe.”

“Microsoft Services consultants did a wonderful job,” Richards adds. “We were trying to run the latest software on the latest hardware, so we had a double challenge. To make this successful, we had to work through many issues, and both Microsoft Services and our team worked incredibly hard to get the proof of concept up and running. The amount and quality of information that Microsoft provided during the RDP was very high and very helpful. A big win was how fast and easy it was to get Windows Server 2012 running in our environment.”

Wu agrees, “It was incredibly fast to provision all those virtual machines. It took less than one minute to clone each virtual machine using the Hyper-V manager console. When we migrated 100 virtual machines from one host to another, it took less than one minute. Windows Server 2012 is really fast.”

Availability Improvements
Wu is referring to Hyper-V live migration in Windows Server 2012, which lets administrators migrate running virtual machines from one host server to another without downtime. Similarly, by using Hyper-V storage live migration, Acer can migrate virtual hard disks to new locations without downtime.

The IT team was also impressed with the Cluster-Aware Updating feature. Cluster-Aware Updating provides intelligent software update distribution to multinode clusters by allowing clusters to be updated as a single entity and performing iterative maintenance on each node. This keeps the clustered workload available during the update.

Virtualization Density and Networking Improvements
During the RDP, Acer tested SharePoint Server 2010 on Windows Server 2012 and saw impressive virtualization density gains. Thanks to significant improvements in scalability and performance for virtualized workloads, Acer can run its most demanding workloads in a virtual environment. Windows Server 2012 supports as many as 64 virtual processors and 1 terabyte of memory for Hyper-V virtual machines, a new virtual hard disk format (VHDX) with larger disk capacity of up to 64 terabytes, and additional resilience.

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* When we migrated 100 virtual machines from one host to another, it took less than one minute. Windows Server 2012 is really fast. *

Oliver Wu
Senior Manager, Corporate Infrastructure, Acer

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“We’re quite excited about Hyper-V Network Virtualization,” Richards says. “It allows us huge flexibility in our environment. We can have identical environments running in multiple data centers worldwide and share workloads across data centers. One of the biggest data center configuration difficulties is networking, and with Network Virtualization we’ll be able to reconfigure networks more smoothly.” By using Hyper-V Network Virtualization, IT administrators can isolate the network traffic of different business units or customers on a shared infrastructure without using virtual local area networks, which are challenging to manage. Administrators can also move virtual machines as needed within a virtual infrastructure while preserving their virtual network assignments.

Next Steps
After completing the RDP, Acer immediately upgraded several test servers to Windows Server 2012. Next, it will deploy its production Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 and SharePoint Server 2010 environments on the operating system. Acer is also a test site for Microsoft SharePoint Server 2013 and has so much confidence in the beta version of Windows Server 2012 that it will run SharePoint Server 2013 on it.

After Windows Server 2012 is released to manufacturing, Acer plans to upgrade all of its Windows Server 2008 R2–based servers. It also plans to move more than 50 applications currently running on Linux-based VMware virtual machines to Windows Server 2012, using Microsoft Virtual Machine Converter to make the transition easy. This converter automatically converts VMware virtual machines and virtual hard disks to Hyper-V virtual machines and virtual hard disks. Acer also plans to deploy Microsoft System Center 2012, which will help it automate server deployment, monitoring, and management.

Benefits
With its upgrade to Windows Server 2012, Acer anticipates significant reductions in data center costs due to improved virtualization density and an ability to manage a larger environment without increasing IT staff. With more automated efficiencies, the IT staff can more quickly respond to business needs. Acer will also boost revenues through the sale of Acer servers designed to work with Windows Server 2012.

Save $600,000 Annually Due to Improved Virtualization Density
Acer has calculated tremendous cost savings from upgrading to Windows Server 2012. With the greatly expanded virtual machine density provided by Hyper-V, Acer will be able to reduce its number of physical servers and the associated power, cooling, hosting, management, and software licensing costs. “After virtualizing our Taiwan data center using Windows Server 2012, we expect to save [US]$600,000 a year,” Richards says. “The potential savings across all our global data centers could be up to five times higher.”

Richards and Wu were amazed at the virtual machine density improvements they saw in Windows Server 2012. “Previously, we were hitting density limits at about 50 virtual machines per node, depending on the workload,” Richards says. “But with Windows Server 2012, we’re looking at virtual machine densities of up to 100, or even up to 150, virtual machines per node for light loads. It is much higher than we anticipated and opens up new scenarios for us, such as desktop virtualization. We were unable to virtualize desktop computers before because of the low virtualization density and consequent high costs. Now we can greatly expand virtualization and reduce our servers and carbon emissions, which is very important to the company.”

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* We can provide as good if not better availability with Windows Server 2012 as we could with VMware, at significantly lower licensing costs and with less management work. *

Harry Richards
Group Enterprise Architect, Acer

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Additionally, by using features such as Hyper-V live migration and Cluster-Aware Updating, Acer can deliver high application availability to the business at a lower cost than was possible with VMware. “Windows Server 2012 has full feature parity with VMware,” Richards says. “We can provide as good if not better availability with Windows Server 2012 as we could with VMware, at significantly lower licensing costs and with less management work.”

Automate IT Management Work
By standardizing on Windows Server 2012, Acer data center staff will have fewer physical servers to configure and manage and only one virtualization technology to manage. Also, between Windows Server 2012 and System Center 2012, Acer will have a host of automated efficiencies for deploying virtual machines, managing the server infrastructure, failing over workloads, and other routine management tasks.

“By upgrading to Windows Server 2012, Acer will be able to fulfill one of its key objectives, which is data center standardization,” Richards says. “We can standardize on Hyper-V as our one virtualization technology and use System Center 2012 to automate our support processes. These products together will make our whole management environment easier. The same number of people can manage a growing virtualized environment.”

Increase Business Agility
A more highly virtualized data center environment and automated management efficiencies translate into faster IT response to business needs. “With Windows Server 2012, we have greater flexibility in being able to deploy resources needed by the business,” Richards says. “We can bring up services very quickly without lengthy server procurement cycles. It’s difficult for our business units to acquire needed hardware for projects, even though we’re a hardware vendor. With the expanded virtualization made possible by Windows Server 2012, we can remove hardware from the equation and enable the business to move from design to deploy very quickly, moving from weeks to just days. It’s a huge advantage in enabling the business to execute quickly on its objectives.”

Realize New Revenue Opportunities
Acer management was very excited at how well Windows Server 2012 ran on the new Acer AW2000h w/AW170h F2, which is aimed at the fast-growing, high-density virtualization market. “Every chief information officer is concerned about operating environmentally responsible data centers,” Richards says. “We profoundly demonstrated that Windows Server 2012 runs great on our latest high-density hardware and that together we create great value for customers. All the advances in Windows Server 2012 represent new market and revenue opportunities for Acer. Our management couldn’t be happier.”

Windows Server 2012
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 business value.

For more information, visit:
www.microsoft.com/en-us/server-cloud/windows-server/2012-default.aspx

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 in the United States and Canada who are deaf or hard-of-hearing can reach Microsoft text telephone (TTY/TDD) services at (800) 892-5234. Outside the 50 United States and Canada, please contact your local Microsoft subsidiary. To access information using the World Wide Web, go to:
www.microsoft.com

For more information about Acer products and services, visit the website at:
www.acer.com

Solution Overview



Organization Size: 8000 employees

Organization Profile

Acer is a Taiwanese hardware and electronics corporation that is one of the largest PC makers in the world and also a provider of e-business services. Acer is based in Taipei and employs nearly 8,000 people.


Business Situation

To reduce data center costs and management complexity, Acer wanted to expand virtualization in its five data centers and standardize on a single virtualization solution.


Solution

Acer is upgrading to the Windows Server 2012 Datacenter operating system to vastly increase virtualization density, gain improved cluster updating capabilities, and virtualize networks.


Benefits

  • Save US$600,000 annually
  • Automate IT management work
  • Increase business agility
  • Realize new revenue opportunities


Hardware
  • Acer AW2000h w/AW170h F2

Software and Services
  • Windows Server 2012
  • Microsoft Hyper-V
  • Microsoft System Center 2012
  • Microsoft Consulting Services
  • Datacenter

Vertical Industries
  • High Tech & Electronics
  • Manufacturing & Resources

Country/Region
Taiwan

Business Need
  • Cloud & Server Platform
  • Cost Containment

IT Issue
  • Virtualization
  • Cloud Services

Languages
English

Partner(s)
Microsoft Services

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