4-page Case Study
Posted: 9/12/2012
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Telecom Italia Unified Communications Innovator Adopts Cloud-Optimized Server, Boosts Agility

To better support high availability, strengthen data protection and disaster recovery capabilities, and reduce hardware costs, Telecom Italia has aggressively pursued virtualization. Recently, IT leaders sought to increase the mobility of virtual machines to meet rising demand among internal business units and customers for scalable compute resources. After evaluating enhancements to the Hyper-V virtualization feature and other advances in Windows Server 2012, the company decided to participate in the Microsoft Rapid Deployment Program for the technology. Telecom Italia has already benefited from more straightforward configuration and deployment of cloud infrastructure and faster, easier migration of virtual workloads. Executives also anticipate long-term licensing and maintenance cost savings from consolidating more of the company’s servers on Windows Server 2012.

Situation
Telecom Italia is one of Italy’s main information and communications technology groups and is the largest telecommunications service provider in the country, with 46.5 million customers nationwide.

IT leaders at Telecom Italia are always looking for ways to better support the company’s expansive workforce—while trimming hardware costs and reducing the time needed for daily management tasks. They are also focused on finding ways to improve network performance and reliability to deliver on service-level commitments to customers.

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* Windows Server 2012 is a great leap forward compared to the previous version and offers relevant improvements in many areas, including network virtualization and memory management. *

Mike Lorusso
X86 Competence Center Manager, Shared Service Center, Telecom Italia

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To promote greater operational agility and reduce dependence on physical hardware, Telecom Italia has embraced a move toward virtualization—both in its desktop and data center environments. In fact, the company has recently replaced thousands of outdated PCs with virtual desktop infrastructure. It now delivers virtual desktops to 7,000 employees through a solution based on Citrix XenDesktop and Hyper-V, the embedded virtualization technology in the Windows Server 2008 R2 operating system. Telecom Italia mainly uses the VMware vSphere platform to create its virtual server infrastructure.

As a next step in increasing the flexibility and scalability of its IT infrastructure, the company was eager to expand its use of cloud computing technology. “We see tremendous opportunities in using cloud technology to increase the scalability of our infrastructure—while lowering the cost to provide on-demand resources to employees and customers,” says Mike Lorusso, X86 Competence Center Manager, Shared Service Center, Telecom Italia.

Telecom Italia has already developed private cloud services for its internal groups, including enterprise application development teams. Developers can use self-service tools to automatically create virtual machines and deploy applications without configuring the underlying infrastructure. IT leaders evaluated upgrading to VMware vCloud Director to replace VMware vCenter Lifecycle Manager. But they also wanted to investigate the potential for cost savings from switching to a new solution. They considered implementing an alternate solution alongside existing VMware components and eventually migrating virtual machines to the new technology.

In addition to searching for a way to increase the level of mobility in its private cloud infrastructure, IT leaders wanted to evaluate whether they could provide disaster recovery support for this environment in a more cost-effective way.

Solution
Telecom Italia decided to take part in the Microsoft Rapid Deployment Program to test the release candidate of Windows Server 2012, the latest version of the server operating system software. Windows Server 2012 introduces dozens of new capabilities, including significant enhancements to the Hyper-V virtualization technology. “Windows Server 2012 is a great leap forward compared to the previous version and offers relevant improvements in many areas, including network virtualization and memory management,” says Lorusso.

Replication of Virtual Machines
Telecom Italia focused its initial testing on the disaster recovery and live migration capabilities in Windows Server 2012. Specifically, the company decided to evaluate Hyper-V Replica, a new feature in the solution that enables administrators to replicate Hyper-V virtual machines to a remote site over a wide area network. The goal of the pilot was to validate rapid delivery of virtual desktops across data centers.

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* The fact that Hyper-V Replica comes built-in with Windows Server 2012 and works with any kind of storage has definitely caught our attention. We see potential in using it to achieve affordable, reliable disaster recovery for certain workloads. *

Mike Lorusso
X86 Competence Center Manager,
Shared Service Center, Telecom Italia

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Telecom Italia worked with Microsoft Services to develop a proof-of-concept demonstration of Hyper-V Replica functionality. The configuration for the original pilot consisted of a two-node Hyper-V cluster and a third, separate machine running Hyper-V, all located within a single data center. After successfully replicating a virtual desktop between nodes in its test environment, the team began work on a second pilot to validate use of Hyper-V Replica in a production setting.

This time, the team deployed two Hyper-V host servers on one cluster running in its Milan data center and two Hyper-V host servers on a second cluster running in its Bologna data center. The company chose to use HP BL460C G7 Blade servers and HP XP24000 servers in its Milan data center and the same HP blade servers and EMC2 CLARiiON CX4 storage in its Bologna data center, both for its proof-of-concept and production deployments of Windows Server 2012. The Bologna data center served as the replica or disaster recovery site. The team was able to restore the replica virtual machines from its Bologna site without incident.

Live Migration
IT leaders were also eager to test updates to Hyper-V live migration functionality in Windows Server 2012. With the enhancements to this feature, administrators can now move the storage of virtual machines while they are still running without any interruption in service. And they can perform this operation to migrate virtual machines within a cluster or between non-clustered servers running Hyper-V, using either a shared or local storage setup.

Following production testing of Hyper-V Replica, Telecom Italia teamed with Microsoft Services to test the live migration of a virtual machine between non-clustered servers using local storage over a standard Ethernet connection. Because this approach does not depend on the use of a network file share for virtual machine storage, it is often referred to as “shared nothing” live migration. “The shared nothing live migration worked beautifully,” says Lorusso. “We moved a virtual machine from the source server in our Milan data center to the destination server at our Bologna site with no downtime.” In considering the value of using local storage for live migration operations, Lorusso looks forward to exploring the use of Server Message Block (SMB) file shares as a remote storage option for Hyper-V virtual machines.

Memory Management
Beyond their early interest in Hyper-V Replica and improvements to live migration, IT leaders see the importance of changes to memory management functionality in the solution. In particular, Lorusso recognizes the advantage of using the minimum memory setting in Hyper-V Dynamic Memory to facilitate greater consolidation of low-load virtual machines on a host server.

Benefits
By adopting Windows Server 2012, Telecom Italia expects to benefit from increased flexibility and efficiency in creating private cloud infrastructure. Executives see the potential for reducing total cost of ownership through the use of built-in virtualization and disaster recovery tools and by taking advantage of existing IT skills and investments.

Simplified Deployment, Management of Private Cloud Infrastructure
By using advanced capabilities in Hyper-V, administrators are able to more easily configure, deploy, and move virtual machines. They can also use the solution to automate management tasks, such as creating and restarting virtual machines. Through the use of new tools in Hyper-V for automating common administrator tasks, the company expects to reduce its operation workload significantly.

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* Our IT partners and customers are looking to adopt Windows Server 2012 as a key platform for their business applications. *

Mike Lorusso
X86 Competence Center Manager,
Shared Service Center, Telecom Italia

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Telecom Italia plans to expand its use of various live migration options in the solution to simplify and speed the process of moving virtual workloads between private clouds. For example, Lorusso and other senior IT leaders see substantial value in using support for SMB file storage to perform live migrations between non-clustered servers running Hyper-V. “SMB remote file storage in Windows Server 2012 will give us even more flexibility in deploying virtual machines,” says Lorusso. “Because it also enables efficient storage access, we’re hoping it helps support faster performance of virtual machines, too.”

Reduced Cost to Support High Availability, Disaster Recovery
Telecom Italia is enthusiastic about the potential for cost savings through greater use of Windows Server 2012 to support both its virtualized server and desktop environments. In addition to using SMB file shares as a low-cost, highly scalable storage option for workload migration, the company expects to take full advantage of Hyper-V Dynamic Memory to consolidate more virtual desktops on fewer physical servers. Also, Telecom Italia was encouraged by the performance of Hyper-V Replica in its production pilot and is considering expanding its use of this tool. “The fact that Hyper-V Replica comes built-in with Windows Server 2012 and works with any kind of storage has definitely caught our attention,” says Lorusso. “We see potential in using it to achieve affordable, reliable disaster recovery for certain workloads.”

Increased Standardization on Familiar, Flexible Virtualization Technology
Business and IT leaders at Telecom Italia have been consistently impressed by the depth of the enhancements to Windows Server 2012. As a result, the company is moving forward with a plan to introduce Windows Server 2012—and Hyper-V—in its virtual server environment. “We’re ultimately aiming to standardize virtualization platforms, and after taking a closer look at Windows Server 2012, we believe it is a perfect solution to complete our virtual infrastructure,” says Lorusso.

Improved Readiness to Meet Customer Needs
Executives know that many Telecom Italia customers will be looking to deploy Windows Server 2012 in the coming year. By deploying the solution to its production environment ahead of competitors, the company is better equipped to meet customer requests to upgrade to the latest version of the software. “Our IT partners and customers are looking to adopt Windows Server 2012 as a key platform for their business applications,” says Lorusso.

Windows Server
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 Telecom Italia products and services visit the website at
www.telecomitalia.com

Solution Overview



Organization Size: 54400 employees

Organization Profile
Telecom Italia is one of Italy’s main information and communications technology groups, providing a range of services to more than 46 million customers nationwide.

Business Situation

The company was eager to incorporate innovative platform technologies to simplify the development of private cloud infrastructure and advance its ongoing virtualization initiatives.


Solution

By participating in the Rapid Deployment Program for Windows Server 2012, Telecom Italia had an opportunity to test and eventually implement several features of the solution, including Hyper-V Replica.


Benefits

  • Simplified private cloud deployment
  • Reduced total cost of ownership
  • Increased standardization of virtualization technology
  • Improved responsiveness to customer needs


Hardware
  • HP BL460c G7
  • HP XP2400
  • EMC2 CLARiiON CX4

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

Vertical Industries
Telecommunications

Country/Region
Italy

Business Need
  • Cloud & Server Platform
  • Cost Containment

IT Issue
  • Private Cloud
  • Virtualization

Languages
English

Partner(s)
Microsoft Services

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