Cocamar Cooperativa Agroindustrial is a large agricultural cooperative in the Paraná State of Brazil. It maintained a virtualization solution hosting 13 virtual machines. Cocamar chose a Microsoft virtualization solution using Windows Server 2008 R2 Enterprise with Hyper-V technology and Microsoft System Center data center solutions to gain a single suite of interoperable, cost-effective virtualization and IT management technologies to support its business. With centralized management tools, IT staffers can respond more quickly to business needs and with Hyper-V Live Migration, they have improved uptime by 80 percent. Cocamar has already saved U.S.$40,000 in hardware costs and expects to save an additional $120,000 in hardware costs when it virtualizes another 30 workloads later in 2011. The company is also reducing electrical costs by 30 percent.
Founded in 1963, Cocamar Cooperativa Agroindustrial has grown to become one of the largest co-ops in Brazil, maintaining a diverse group of industries. Based in Paraná State, Cocamar collects agricultural crops from approximately 10,000 members who bring their harvests to its 67 affiliates. At its 12 plants in a modern industrial park, Cocamar processes and adds value to these crops—for example extracting, refining, and packaging oils, and roasting coffee beans— by turning them into commodity items for the grocery store. Cocamar also manufactures products such as fruit juices, nectars, and soybean-based drinks.
The IT department at Cocamar has three sectors (development, infrastructure, and telephony services) consisting of internal staff that manages the service delivery contracts. The main data center is housed at headquarters in Maringa, and another data center is located in Curitiba. Between the two centers, Cocamar had 48 servers running the Windows Server operating system and 13 servers running on the UNIX/Sun Solaris platform. IT staffers support 800 desktop computers and 80 portable computers running the Windows XP Professional and Windows 7 operating systems and 600 thin clients running in a Citrix environment.
“IT has always been considered an area of value, adding services for our members, the cooperative, and our associated companies,” says Paula Rebelo, IT Manager at Cocamar. “It is critically important that we provide good services for our members, as they are the reason we are in business. That means being agile and responsive to the market and our members’ needs.”
However, as the number of co-op members increased and the size of their harvests grew, it was a challenge for the IT department to maintain service level agreements. With most applications running on a dedicated server, there were many potential physical points of failure throughout the system. To maintain its business productivity, Cocamar needed to minimize scheduled and unscheduled downtime for supply-chain management and business-management applications. Application downtime can translate into increased wait times for growers at the warehouses and long lines to unload crops from trucks. Negative customer experience could impact the co-op’s revenue, as members can easily take their business elsewhere.
“We wanted to minimize the amount of work involved in managing our distributed physical infrastructure,” says Rebelo. “We are operating in a business with high competition and low profit margins, so we needed to be very aware of our operating costs in a way that would not affect customer satisfaction. We have to be agile in IT so that we can have structures to respond to and provide services for our members, and to efficiently manufacture and deliver products for our end customers.”
In 2007, Cocamar turned to virtualization to mitigate these issues. Virtualization allowed Cocamar to run virtual applications on a single host server, reducing reliance on physical hardware and the IT labor spent administering that hardware. With more applications running on less hardware, the company hoped to save money and reduce application downtime attributed to scheduled maintenance for servers.
Cocamar deployed a server to host 13 virtualized applications, including infrastructure services and Microsoft SQL Server 2005 database software. However, any progress the IT staffers made in consolidating servers and improving redundancy through application failover capabilities was diminished because they didn’t have any centralized server and desktop management tools to help manage either the physical or virtual environment.
||With our Microsoft virtualization solution, we are reducing costs, increasing business agility, and building an IT infrastructure that’s more responsive to the business.
IT Manager, Cocamar
“We were not able to achieve the centralized, streamlined infrastructure management for both virtual and physical servers that we wanted,” says Rebelo. “We had many aging servers. We wanted to continue growing our virtualized environment, but an increasing number of virtual machines would increase our management challenges.” Solution
When Cocamar entered into a Microsoft Enterprise Agreement in September 2008, it acquired both the virtualization technology and the integrated data center management solutions it needed to expand its virtualized environment. In May 2010, Cocamar deployed the Windows Server 2008 R2 Enterprise operating system with Hyper-V virtualization technology at Maringa. It also deployed Microsoft System Center data center solutions for integrated server and desktop management of both physical and virtual machines.
“We entered into the Enterprise Agreement with Microsoft to standardize the cooperative’s systems on the Microsoft platform, so it made sense to choose a Microsoft virtualization solution,” says Rebelo. “The System Center data center solutions were really important to our decision to go with a Microsoft virtualization solution. We were very interested in using a Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008 R2 solution to simplify deployment and management of our virtual machines as we expand our virtual environment.”
Cocamar IT staff used the Microsoft Assessment and Planning Toolkit to analyze and prioritize virtual workloads for virtualization at both data centers. Windows Server 2008 R2 Enterprise includes failover clustering, which Cocamar used to create a three-node, high-availability cluster at Maringa in September 2010.
In 2011, Cocamar is deploying 13 servers running Windows Server 2008 Datacenter and Hyper-V in its data center located in Curitiba. “We used Virtual Machine Manager 2008 R2 to perform a V2V [virtual-to-virtual] migration of the original virtual files to Hyper-V virtual machines in VHD format,” says Rebelo. “Virtual Machine Manager 2008 also performed our physical-to-virtual (P2V) migrations, and we took advantage of its intelligent placement capabilities to analyze each host’s capacity for the best placement of each [virtual machine].”
Cocamar is also using the latest functionality in Microsoft System Center Operations Manager 2007 R2, such as the ability to monitor servers across its heterogeneous platforms at the data center. “With System Center Operations Manager 2007, we can proactively address issues with our Windows and UNIX servers through a single console,” says Rebelo. “The same goes for our virtual machines running on Windows and UNIX operating systems.”
IT staff take advantage of the interoperability between System Center Operations Manager 2007 R2 and System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008 R2 by installing Performance and Resource Optimization (PRO) management packs on each host and virtual machine to collect data about the virtual environment and hardware performance. Cocamar IT staffers can use the information gathered to ensure that virtualized workloads make optimal use of hardware resources. Finally, IT staffers are using Microsoft System Center Data Protection Manager 2007 to back up virtual machines and provide application-consistent backups of any and all guests residing on a host.
With Windows Server 2008 R2, Cocamar can take advantage of new virtualization technologies, such as Cluster Shared Volumes and Hyper-V Live Migration to boost application availability. With Live Migration, Cocamar IT staffers can move a virtual machine between its three virtualization host servers without any interruption of service. Cluster Shared Volumes allows multiple hosts to access and share the same logical unit number (LUN) on a storage area network (SAN) to provide optimal network load balancing within a cluster.
To date, Cocamar has virtualized 30 servers on three hosts. The virtualized workloads are both 32-bit and 64-bit, and include infrastructure services such as file/server and business-critical applications such as Microsoft SQL Server 2008–based business intelligence applications. Benefits
Cocamar has achieved significant benefits since deploying its Microsoft virtualization solution. The company is saving money on licensing and hardware costs and improving the IT department’s ability to respond quickly to business requirements through streamlined infrastructure management. “With our Microsoft virtualization solution, we are reducing costs, increasing business agility, and building an IT infrastructure that’s more responsive to the business,” says Rebelo.
Cocamar was attracted to the economical licensing program that Microsoft offers for Windows Server 2008 R2 Enterprise, which includes four virtualized instances of Windows Server 2008. With this cost-effective solution, Cocamar IT staffers can increase the number of virtual machines without worrying about additional licensing costs.
||Our Microsoft virtualization solution started a process of technological innovation to help ensure the efficient fulfillment of business processes for Cocamar.
IT Manager, Cocamar
And, with its ongoing server consolidation program, the company is saving money on hardware replacement costs. “We have already saved $40,000 by virtualizing 30 servers and in 2011 we are planning to virtualize 30 more workloads that are running on obsolete servers for an additional savings of $120,000,” says Rebelo. Improved IT Agility
With a suite of interoperable data center solutions to manage both virtual and physical IT environments, IT staff members at Cocamar are better equipped to respond quickly to members’ needs, whether reducing planned downtime for application maintenance, scaling up services quickly, or ensuring high availability and data security to support the business. “Before, we didn’t have a set of tools to manage our data center,” says Rebelo. “Microsoft System Center data center solutions are centralized, interoperable management tools that we can use to quickly make changes to our environment as needed by the business. I would estimate that we are working 60 percent more efficiently while managing our IT infrastructure.”
For example, with System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008, IT staff can quickly respond to a request for a new server. “Today, we have the capacity to make a server available in less than four hours by using the templates library within Virtual Machine Manager,” says Rebelo. “It used to take us many hours to install and configure a physical server. Now we simply work from an existing offline template in the library and update it quickly to suit our needs.”
With System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008 R2, Cocamar is improving its disaster recovery capabilities. Using its virtual machine snapshot capability, IT staffers can take snapshots of a running virtual machine so they can easily revert the application to a previous state should a problem arise. This simplifies the process of restoring IT services and helps avoid any impact on Cocamar staff working in the company’s facilities.
Cocamar employees and co-op members will no longer be facing wait times to unload trucks while applications are down due to server maintenance. If IT staffers need to perform maintenance on a physical host server, they can use Hyper-V Live Migration to move the virtual machines to the other host in the cluster in a way that’s completely transparent to employees. That means server maintenance can be performed during normal business hours. This cuts down on overtime paid to IT staff members who used to perform maintenance after working hours. “We are eliminating the impacts of programmed and nonprogrammed inactivity,” says Rebelo. “With Live Migration, we have improved uptime by 80 percent.
“Our Microsoft virtualization solution started a process of technological innovation to help ensure the efficient fulfillment of business processes for Cocamar,” concludes Rebelo. “As we continue to migrate physical servers to the virtual world, our members and customers will continue to benefit from our agile business operations.” Microsoft Virtualization
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.
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