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Posted: 10/21/2009
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Combell Hosting Provider Cuts Server Management Time by 20 Percent with New Solution

Belgium-based Combell provides hosted Web and application services for a growing number of European customers. The company deployed Windows Server® 2008 to help improve efficiency, but it was interested in additional virtualization and management enhancements. To meet its needs, Combell chose to deploy Windows Server 2008 R2. As a result, the company has reduced its server management time by 20 percent and anticipates major cost savings in its data centers. Additionally, Combell can offer more flexible solutions to its customers.

Business Needs

Headquartered in Ghent, Belgium, Combell is a leading Internet hosting company that provides Web, application, and server hosting services and solutions based on Microsoft® software. The company manages more than 15,000 Web sites in its four Brussels, Belgium, data centers.

* With the new remote management capabilities in Windows Server 2008 R2, we have reduced the time spent on server management by 20 percent.  *
David De Vos
Senior System Engineer
Because it is always striving to meet customer demands for the latest technology, Combell deployed the Windows Server® 2008 operating system. With this solution, the organization reduced server deployment times and increased system reliability for its customers.

However, Combell still sought enhanced virtualization capabilities. “Virtualizing servers has become important because we want to reduce energy consumption and related costs in our data centers,” says David De Vos, Senior System Engineer, Combell. “By far, our biggest costs are related to powering and cooling servers.” Combell also wanted more flexibility for virtual server management. “We wanted to be able to more easily move virtual servers around, so we could ensure that customers would always stay online and hardware maintenance wouldn’t result in downtime,” De Vos adds.

Although Combell IT managers used the Windows PowerShell™ command-line shell and scripting language for server management, the company needed more advanced features. “We host more than 1,500 server computers in our data centers, and we needed the ability to remotely manage these servers,” says De Vos. “We wanted to deploy applications and perform maintenance on multiple servers without having to physically go from our office in Ghent to the data centers in Brussels.”


Combell quickly determined that new features in Windows Server 2008 R2, the latest version of the operating system, would meet all of its needs. For instance, the enhanced Hyper-V™ virtualization technology in Windows Server 2008 R2 includes the Live Migration feature, which IT administrators can use to move a virtual machine between two host servers with no downtime. The operating system also includes Windows PowerShell 2.0, which comes with new remote management capabilities and a new graphical user interface. With Windows PowerShell 2.0, IT administrators can easily manage multiple servers remotely, using command-line and automated scripts.

Combell began deploying Windows Server 2008 R2 Enterprise in August 2009, implementing it on a mix of Dell PowerEdge 1950, 2950, R610, and R710 server computers, all with Quad-Core Intel Xeon processors. Combell planned to deploy Windows Server 2008 R2 to its customers by the end of September 2009.


By implementing Windows Server 2008 R2, Combell has been able to reduce the time it takes to manage its server infrastructure. In addition, the organization expects to reduce its data center operating costs, and it can now provide more flexible solutions to its customers. 

  • Reduces server management time by 20 percent. Using Windows PowerShell 2.0 in Windows Server 2008 R2, Combell IT managers can remotely manage multiple servers, without needing to travel the 30 miles between the main office and the data centers. “With the new remote management capabilities in Windows Server 2008 R2, we have reduced the time spent on server management by 20 percent,” De Vos says. “We can now deploy new applications on many servers without having to go to each server. We only need to write scripts and execute commands from within Windows PowerShell 2.0.” Combell IT administrators also spend less time on other IT tasks because they can automate scheduled tasks more easily and efficiently from within Windows PowerShell 2.0.
  • Lowers data center costs. Combell is now able to take advantage of the
    Live Migration feature in Hyper-V, which means the company can add or delete virtual servers or move them between data centers easily without system downtime. “Being able to move servers with the Windows Server 2008 R2 Live Migration feature will help us save money in terms of administration,” says De Vos. “Also, because we will be able to host multiple servers on one physical host, we will use less power, need less cooling, and have fewer hardware costs. We will use less data center space and energy overall. These things will lead to huge savings for us.”
  • Helps attract new business. The Live Migration feature in Hyper-V also gives Combell the ability to offer more flexible hosting solutions for its customers. “Now we can install virtual machines and move them between data centers, so we can design better and more efficient solutions overall,” says De Vos. “As a result, we can meet customer demands for flexible, reliable, and lower cost hosting solutions.  One of our customers, an IT consulting organization called DDIT, was waiting for these capabilities. We helped them optimize their resources by implementing Hyper-V in Windows Server 2008 R2.”

Windows Server 2008 R2

Windows Server 2008 R2 is the latest version of the Windows Server operating system from Microsoft. With Windows Server 2008 R2, you can create solutions that are easier to plan, deploy, and manage than with previous versions of Windows Server. Building on the features, security, reliability, and performance provided by Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2008 R2 extends connectivity and control to local and remote resources. This means that your organization can benefit from reduced costs and increased efficiencies gained through enhanced management and control over resources across the enterprise.

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Document published October 2009 
Solution Overview

Organization Size: 45 employees

Organization Profile

Founded in 1999, Combell provides a range of Internet hosting services to 25,000 customers throughout Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg.

  • Cisco switches and routers
  • Dell EqualLogic SAN storage
  • Dell PowerEdge 1950, 2950, R610, and R710 server computers
  • Quad-Core Intel Xeon processors

Software and Services
  • Windows Server 2008 R2 Enterprise
  • Microsoft Hyper-V
  • Windows PowerShell 2.0

Vertical Industries
Hosters & ISPs


Business Need
  • Cloud & Server Platform
  • Business Productivity

IT Issue