St Leonard’s College, a leading private school in Australia, wanted to expand the services it offered to students and staff. To avoid the time and expense required to install more hardware, St Leonard’s implemented Windows Server® 2008 Enterprise with Hyper-V™ virtualization technology. The school chose the solution over virtualization products from Novell and VMware. By using Windows Server 2008, St Leonard’s doubled its server software infrastructure without increasing hardware, and it was running many new services within six months. Although the server infrastructure has increased, management is easier with Microsoft® System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008, which St Leonard’s IT staff members use to administer both virtual and physical servers. The staff also can deploy virtual servers in less than half the time it previously took to deploy physical servers.
St Leonard’s College is a private coeducational school with two campuses in Melbourne, Australia. St Leonard’s offers students ranging from kindergarten through twelfth grade a comprehensive education that includes international studies and environmental sustainability. Established in 1897, St Leonard’s has 300 employees and 1,700 students.
||To expand our services before, we would’ve spent a lot of time planning and budgeting for hardware. But implementing Hyper-V gave us a shortcut, and we expanded exponentially in six months.
Information Services Manager
St Leonard’s College
All students and employees at St Leonard’s have access to IT resources supported by six IT staff members. These resources include 1,100 workstations and portable computers, e-mail, Web-based services, and specialized education systems. The school runs Windows®, SUSE Linux Enterprise, and Novell NetWare operating systems, and it relies heavily on Microsoft® SQL Server® 2005 Standard Edition data management software. It uses the software with multiple business-critical applications, including identity management solutions, curriculum administration programs, and Web servers.
The St Leonard’s IT team wanted to expand its server infrastructure to take on new projects, and one of its top priorities was installing a high-availability virtualization cluster for Web-based services. It also wanted to implement new system administration services. However, the school lacked the budget for an extensive hardware investment, and it was concerned that purchasing and installing new server computers would be too time-consuming.
St Leonard’s wanted a solution that it could implement quickly with existing resources, including technology skills and infrastructure. “We tend to look at how much time and effort any solution will require, even more than an investment metric,” says Mark Blake, Information Services Manager at St Leonard’s College. “For example, any time a project requires training there is a cost associated with time as well as money. And time is not something we have a lot of when we’re trying to support 2,000 users and their computers.”
St Leonard’s decided to use virtualization technology and looked at solutions from both VMware and Novell. However, the VMware licensing agreements were too costly, and VMware Infrastructure 3 and ESX wouldn’t run well on existing hardware. The SUSE Linux Enterprise solution also wasn’t a good option because implementing it would require more training than was practical. Then, in October 2007, St Leonard’s learned that the Windows Server® 2008 operating system with Hyper-V™ virtualization technology would be available.
The Microsoft solution was compelling for several reasons. Hyper-V is included with several editions of Windows Server 2008 at no additional cost, and the licensing options for educators made the solution even more affordable. St Leonard’s could deploy the solution on existing hardware, and it met other goals too. “We were very impressed with how well Hyper-V performed and how easy it was to manage,” says James Bannan, Network Manager at St Leonard’s College. “Once we started using it, we didn’t really see any reason to move to another product.”
Despite its small IT team, St Leonard’s was able to stay within budget and implement Hyper-V itself without hiring external partners. “One of the advantages of Hyper-V is the amount of information that’s available,” says Bannan. “We were able to do all our own Hyper-V implementation internally, and we couldn’t have done that if all the information wasn’t freely available online through Microsoft TechNet or provided by local Microsoft employees.”
St Leonard’s began deploying Windows Server 2008 in April 2008 and started virtualizing less-critical servers. The school then moved on to its virtualization cluster and deployed Internet Information Services (IIS) version 7.0 with Hyper-V on a Server Core installation of Windows Server 2008. When deployment was complete six months later in October 2008, the school’s virtualized servers included IIS 7.0 with SQL Server 2005, and Novell Identity Manager running with the Active Directory® service. Identity Manager integrates account information from Active Directory with Novell eDirectory.
||The user base has experienced the biggest gains in productivity because, with Hyper-V, we can provide services they wouldn’t have had otherwise.
St Leonard’s College
St Leonard’s uses Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008 to manage its Hyper-V servers. “System Center Virtual Machine Manager has been extremely useful for giving us a single window into how the various servers are running,” Bannan says. “So we’re looking at extending it in the future to cover more systems.”
For its administrators, the school also runs virtual desktops on Hyper-V with the Windows XP Professional operating system. The solution gives the IT team the flexibility to use its Novell management tools—which are only compatible with Windows XP—while upgrading other workstations and portable computers from Windows XP to the Windows Vista® Enterprise operating system.
Because its experience with Hyper-V was so successful, St Leonard’s has expanded its use of Windows Server 2008. The school upgraded most of its Windows Server 2003 installations to either Windows Server 2008 Standard or Windows Server 2008 Enterprise, and it has implemented more server roles. The school has deployed an Active Directory Domain Services domain controller at each campus, and St Leonard’s continues to expand its Active Directory infrastructure. For example, it has migrated its Domain Name System and Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol services from Novell NetWare to Windows Server 2008. St Leonard’s is also migrating its PHP-based Internet site from a Linux Apache Web server to Windows Server 2008 to take advantage of IIS 7.0 support for PHP and the MySQL database.
St Leonard’s College has expanded services for its users without needing to install new hardware. By using Windows Server 2008 with Hyper-V to deploy virtual servers, the school is speeding server deployment, simplifying management, and improving user productivity. The school now has a reliable, easily scalable foundation in place for implementing new solutions.
St Leonard’s was able to expand its technology environment and add valuable services by taking advantage of Windows Server 2008 with Hyper-V. The school avoided the need to invest in more hardware or undergo extensive training. As a result, implementation was faster and less costly. “To expand our services before, we would’ve spent a lot of time planning and budgeting for hardware,” says Blake. “But implementing Hyper-V gave us a shortcut, and we expanded exponentially in six months.”
Server deployment is also much faster than before, Bannan adds. “It can take us up to two hours to install a physical machine, but we can install a virtual server on Hyper-V in less than an hour.”
Enhances Customer Service
With Hyper-V, St Leonard’s doubled its server software infrastructure using existing hardware and technology skills. By doing so, it was able to provide more services such as Web-based interfaces for the school’s library systems and curriculum database. Although the IT team can point to improved efficiency such as faster server deployment, it believes that the students and staff at St Leonard’s have benefited most from the solution. Bannan says, “We have to say that the user base has experienced the biggest gains in productivity because, with Hyper-V, we can provide services that they wouldn’t have had otherwise.”
IT staff members at St Leonard’s appreciate new management tools such as System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008, but they say that Hyper-V reliability is the biggest management benefit. “Hyper-V sits in the background and hums,” says Bannan. “We have not had a single instance of Hyper-V failing. It’s so easy to manage that we rarely need to touch it.”
The IT team is increasingly turning to System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008 to administer both physical and virtual systems in its data center. “System Center Virtual Machine Manager does nearly everything,” says Blake. “You can use it from any domain-connected Windows Server 2008 or Windows Vista computer—which makes life much easier—and the single console is very intuitive to use.”
Provides Foundation for the Future
When St Leonard’s has finished implementing its current projects, it plans to explore using Windows Server 2008 R2. It is particularly interested in the Live Migration feature, which it can use to move virtual servers from one physical node to another without interrupting service. In addition, enhancements such as the Hyper-V Management Console will further ease data center management. Blake says, “The fact that it is so easy to scale and manage has been a big factor in why Windows Server 2008 is now our platform of choice, and we are certainly looking forward to Windows Server 2008 R2.”
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Windows Server 2008
Windows Server 2008, with built-in Web and virtualization technologies, enables you to increase the reliability and flexibility of your server infrastructure. New virtualization tools, Web resources, and security enhancements help you save time, reduce costs, and provide a platform for a dynamic and optimized data center. Powerful new tools like IIS 7.0, Server Manager, and Windows PowerShell™, allow you to have more control over your servers and streamline Web, configuration, and management tasks. Advanced security and reliability enhancements like Network Access Protection and the Read-Only Domain Controller option for Active Directory Domain Services harden the operating system and help protect your server environment to ensure you have a solid foundation on which to build your business.
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Document published April 2009