KDS had long relied on Oracle database software to provide IT services to German municipalities. However, Oracle costs and management effort were going to increase dramatically when the organization wanted to run its cluster of databases in a
private cloud environment. So KDS decided to switch its 400 databases to Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 software. As a result, it has reduced licensing costs by 42 percent, trimmed management costs by a third, and increased database performance by 15 percent.
Kommunale Datenverarbeitungszentrale Südniedersachsen (KDS) provides IT services to municipalities in the German state of Lower Saxony. The organization’s offerings include data center infrastructure, software development and maintenance, applications ranging
from email to line-of-business systems, and IT guidance. KDS serves about 45 cities and towns and employs about 50 people.
KDS used Oracle database software for all of its applications, including a citizen census application used by many cities. It had about 400 databases in all. In 2011, KDS configured its data center as a private cloud environment. The organization created
a cluster for its databases, but to run in a virtual environment, Oracle required that KDS license a more powerful (and more expensive) version of its software than KDS needed. Additionally, administering Oracle databases had always been time-consuming and
required specialized expertise, and they were especially difficult to manage in a virtual clustered environment.
Furthermore, many of the software vendors that developed key KDS applications had trouble supporting their applications on Oracle in a virtualized environment, which caused the products to perform poorly.
||It’s important for us to continuously improve in all areas, and by switching from Oracle to SQL Server, we are able to deliver better service at a lower cost.
| Andreas Filbir
Chief Information Officer
KDS uses Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 software for smaller databases and has Microsoft operating system and application software throughout its data center. In mid-2011, KDS tested some of its high-end workloads on SQL Server 2008 R2 and was pleased with
the software’s performance and stability.
In October 2011, KDS decided to switch from Oracle to SQL Server 2008 R2 Enterprise. At the same time, the organization upgraded its database servers from the Windows Server 2003 operating system to Windows Server 2008 R2 Enterprise. Comparex, a Microsoft
partner with multiple gold and silver competencies, assisted in the implementation. KDS plans to upgrade its databases to Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Enterprise as software vendors make their applications compatible with the newer database software.
Today, KDS runs 90 percent of its 400 databases in a virtualized, clustered environment based on Dell PowerEdge R815 server computers, Windows Server 2008 R2, and SQL Server 2008 R2. Each server contains four quad-core AMD Opteron processors and 512 gigabytes
of RAM. KDS has three clusters: one for applications, one for databases, and one for test and virtual desktops.
The KDS applications that access data from this database cluster range from an application used by just 5 people to one used by nearly 200 people. Across all municipalities, KDS serves 5,000 users with the cluster, with approximately 1,200 concurrent users
at any given time.
“All of our critical applications are running on SQL Server, including our citizen census application,” says Andreas Filbir, Chief Information Officer of KDS. “Every time a citizen in Lower Saxony changes his or her address, this application is used, and
citizens have to visit local government offices and stand in line to make the changes. So performance and stability are critical.”
By switching from Oracle databases to SQL Server 2008 R2 Enterprise, KDS has been able to trim licensing costs by 42 percent, reduce management effort and expense by a third, and improve application performance by 15 percent.
Reduces Licensing Costs by 42 Percent
By migrating from Oracle to SQL Server, KDS has significantly reduced database licensing costs. It can license the software it needs without paying for unneeded features. “In Germany, all public organizations are under pressure to cut costs,” Filbir says.
“As a government organization, it’s important to KDS to operate economically so that it can invest in new projects or even pass savings on to taxpayers. By switching to SQL Server, we are able to reduce our database licensing costs by 42 percent.”
Trims Management Expenses by a Third Through Easier Administration
KDS has found SQL Server to be much easier to manage in a virtual environment than Oracle. “SQL Server 2008 R2 has very intuitive, visual management tools,” Filbir says. “We can do backup and recovery and perform user administration tasks much more easily.
Our administrators can use these tools without technical knowledge, unlike the Oracle product, which has different management consoles across different editions and requires more expertise. We have a small, very busy staff and need all the automation we can
get. With a glance at the SQL Server console, we can instantly see the status of all our databases and any errors.”
As a result of the simplified management, KDS has been able to reduce its number of database administrators from six to four, reducing staffing costs by a third.
Improves Performance by 15 Percent
KDS has seen database performance increase by 15 percent by migrating its databases to SQL Server 2008 R2 and Windows Server 2008 R2 running in a virtual environment. This boost helps KDS employees be more productive, which in turn helps them provide better
service to citizens—such as those standing in line to report a change of address.
“More and more government services in Germany are being delivered electronically and, as a result, citizens’ service expectations have risen,” Filbir says. “It’s important for us to continuously improve in all areas, and by switching from Oracle to SQL Server,
we are able to deliver better service at a lower cost.”
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