Redynamics Asia is a fast-growing IT services provider that wanted to remove the technology barriers that limited business growth. The constant demand for more server and desktop computers consumed time and money and slowed the company’s ability to meet customer needs. Redynamics first virtualized its servers and then deployed a private cloud service for development, showcasing new solutions, and delivering training classes. Its cloud infrastructure is built on the Windows Server 2008 R2 operating system with Hyper-V technology and Microsoft System Center solutions, notably Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2012. With this model, Redynamics is moving faster as a business, has reduced server costs by U.S.$700,000 and annual IT costs by $350,000, and is on track to double its training business. Its servers are more fully utilized and IT service availability is much higher.Situation
Redynamics Asia is a Malaysian IT services provider that specializes in systems management consulting and IT training. Redynamics is a member of the Microsoft Partner Network with Gold competencies in systems management and other areas. It is also a Microsoft-authorized training center and distributor of systems management–focused software made by other companies. Redynamics is headquartered in Petaling Jaya, Selangor Darul Ehsan, Malaysia, and has 25 employees.
When Redynamics first started in 2003, business was good, but expanding the business meant buying more servers and renting more office space to house them. Even though its business required IT infrastructure, as a startup Redynamics did not have the financial resources for a significant data center outlay. Even more frustrating was the fact that many of the company’s servers were not fully utilized because many of its software applications needed to run on dedicated servers. This meant that Redynamics was paying for computing power that it did not use.
||By using a private cloud model to deliver training and other services, we have greater flexibility and freedom to grow our business.
Principal Consultant, Redynamics Asia
For its training business, Redynamics had to continuously refresh the PCs in its training rooms, because it had to teach on the latest equipment. The high costs for new server and desktop computers affected the company’s profits and limited its growth. Even more expensive than new hardware and software was the cost of adding more IT staff to manage it all.
Additionally, the process of deploying physical server and desktop computers slowed down the business. “When we needed to test or develop an application or customer solution, we had to go through a lengthy server procurement process, which impaired our ability to meet tight customer deadlines,” says Raymond Chou, Principal Consultant at Redynamics Asia. “Every new training course required a lengthy process of setting up desktop and server computers for students to use in classes. The amount that we could grow our training business was limited by how many physical computers and classrooms we had.”
Redynamics occasionally dealt with computer failures, which negatively impacted customer service and required extensive staff time and resources. “IT infrastructure constraints were a big stumbling block to business growth,” Chou says. “Customers looked to us to give them guidance on smart IT systems management, but we really needed a smarter way to structure our own IT operations.”Solution
In 2005, Redynamics took steps toward solving its technology challenges by embracing server virtualization technology. It used Microsoft Virtual Server 2005, an early server virtualization program, to create multiple virtual machines on two host servers. Virtualization gave Redynamics the server infrastructure it needed while maintaining a small server footprint.
Steady Efficiency Improvements
When Microsoft introduced the Windows Server 2008 operating system with Hyper-V virtualization technology, Redynamics upgraded to that software and expanded its virtualization efforts. By 2010, it had four hosts and dozens of virtual machines. At this time, it also upgraded earlier Microsoft infrastructure management solutions to Microsoft System Center data center solutions, which are designed to monitor and manage virtual and physical IT environments.
When Microsoft announced the Microsoft System Center 2012 family of solutions for private cloud computing, Redynamics was immediately interested. “We were beginning to have the same problems in our virtualized environment that we had in our physical infrastructure, which was virtual machine sprawl and excessive infrastructure management work,” Chou says. “With virtualization we achieved great efficiency gains, but we are always looking to become even more efficient. The Microsoft private cloud vision and road map made sense to us. There was no other vendor that had as complete a management solution as Microsoft.”
A private cloud environment is a pool of virtualized computing resources dedicated to the use of a single organization. These pooled resources can be dynamically provisioned and reprovisioned on demand, which means that organizations can deliver IT infrastructure as a service rather than as discrete servers and applications.
A central element in the Microsoft private cloud strategy was Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2012, the server management component of the System Center family. “We were really interested in doing service template provisioning, which was one of the features of System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2012,” Chou says. “This would enable us to provision virtual machines and deploy applications even faster, which would save us more time so we could serve customers and grow faster.” Private Cloud Infrastructure
In 2011, Redynamics created two private cloud configurations:
For host servers, Redynamics uses HP ProLiant DL380 G6 and G7 servers and Dell R710 servers powered by Intel Xeon processors. “We have always worked with HP and Dell, which provide us with good prices, support, performance, and reliability,” Chou says. The host servers run Windows Server 2008 R2 Datacenter with Service Pack 1 (SP1). Guest operating systems, or those running on the virtual machines, are primarily Windows Server 2008 R2 Enterprise SP1 with a few instances of the Linux operating system (Red Hat and SUSE Linux distributions).
||All of the System Center programs working together take away much of the tedious work that we used to do on a daily basis.
Principal Consultant, Redynamics Asia
The advantage of a private cloud versus a purely virtualized environment is that Redynamics can more easily track, control, and maximize its virtual infrastructure. Virtual machines created outside of a cloud environment can easily be assigned to a business group, forgotten about, and fall into disuse. Additionally, managing hundreds or thousands of virtual machines can be as trying as managing thousands of physical servers. Virtual machines in a cloud configuration, however, are managed collectively as a single resource so that they are continuously being reconfigured, reallocated to new needs, and used to maximum effect. Management Tools that Increase Efficiency
Redynamics now uses System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2012 to create virtual servers and desktops on the fly from a single console, leaving Virtual Machine Manager to determine which host servers have the needed capacity and moving virtual machines around to achieve maximum performance.
In the past, when Redynamics needed to set up a new class, technicians spent one to two days building PC images and installing server applications, such as Microsoft SQL Server data management software or Microsoft Exchange Server, that would be used in the training. By using the Service Template Designer in System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2012, Redynamics can preconfigure those applications. When a new class starts, technicians simply select the appropriate application template to automatically deploy them.
Another advantage of deploying desktop computers as virtual desktop images is that customers can connect to these virtual resources from any location. This has freed Redynamics to offer virtual classes rather than having its course offerings limited by physical classroom space.
Although Redynamics does not run VMware virtualization software, several of its customers do. System Center Virtual Machine Manager offers simplified management of multiple hypervisors; so now, Redynamics can manage these customers’ VMware environments—as well as a mix of guest operating systems—from one console.
Redynamics also uses System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2012 to give internal departments role-based, self-service access to private cloud resources. Rather than creating dozens of virtual machines for different departments, Redynamics has delegated certain areas of its private cloud environments to different groups and individuals in the company. They can manage and use that space as they wish, which eliminates the IT staff as a bottleneck to business needs and helps the IT staff better organize its resources.
Redynamics has long used System Center Virtual Machine Manager in conjunction with Microsoft System Center Operations Manager, the server and application monitoring component of the System Center family, to gain insight into server and application performance. The company is currently evaluating Microsoft System Center Operations Manager 2012 for its improvements in network device monitoring. “Today, we don’t manage our network devices and have very limited information about them,” Chou says. “With System Center Operations Manager 2012, we will have more information that we can use to eliminate infrastructure failures.”
Additionally, Redynamics is testing Microsoft System Center Orchestrator 2012, an IT process automation tool, to automate the installation of security updates to virtual machines. Chou also envisions using System Center Orchestrator together with System Center Virtual Machine Manager and System Center Operations Manager to create automated alerts and service-desk tickets. “All of the System Center programs working together take away much of the tedious work that we used to do on a daily basis,” he says.
||We have just three staff members caring for our data center, whereas we would have required six to eight people without a private cloud environment, an annual cost avoidance of $150,000.
Principal Consultant, Redynamics Asia
Redynamics licenses its System Center solutions through the Microsoft System Center Server Management Suite in the Service Provider License Agreement. “We are saving a lot of money by licensing all our System Center programs through a single license,” Chou says. “Microsoft licensing makes it very affordable for a small company like ours to take advantage of enterprise-caliber management capabilities.”Benefits
By adopting a private cloud model and upgrading to System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2012, Redynamics Asia removed barriers to business growth, responds more nimbly to business needs, and reduced infrastructure costs. It is also getting better use of and availability from its server infrastructure.
Greater Opportunity to Grow the Business
The IT infrastructure barriers that previously curbed business growth for Redynamics are gone. “By using a private cloud model to deliver training and other services, we have greater flexibility and freedom to grow our business,” Chou says. “We can offer classes to customers who would not be able to come to our training center by giving them access to training resources from their homes and offices. This enables us to vastly extend our offerings; in fact, we expect to double our training business because we have removed the physical limitation of how many classrooms we have. We can have virtual classes anytime for students anywhere.”
Faster Response to Business Needs
By configuring IT resources as a private cloud environment, Redynamics can move faster in all areas of its business. “We have been able to shift toward an ‘IT as a service’ model where our various departments can get the IT resources that they need when they need them, without waiting on the IT staff,” Chou says. “Cloud computing removes much of the administrative work that bogged down our IT staff before and enables us to deliver IT resources much faster. It has sped up our whole business.”
Better Use of IT Staff
As an example of IT staff time savings achieved with a cloud model, Redynamics used to have one or two administrators come in on the weekends to set up the computers for the following week’s classes. They no longer have to do that because Redynamics has automated much of the work by using System Center Virtual Machine Manager. Class setup time used to take one to two days; today, it takes two hours.
“We let System Center Virtual Machine Manager do most of the work for us,” Chou says. “The automation efficiencies are not only eliminating overtime costs but giving our staff a better quality of life. We used to need two full-time staff members just to do class setup and now we need just one, and he spends most of his time doing revenue-generating consulting work rather than mundane computer setup work.” Cost Avoidance of $1.5 Million in IT Costs
By using Microsoft cloud technologies, Redynamics has expanded its business without high IT costs burdening its bottom line. The roughly 80 virtual machines currently in its private cloud environment would have cost U.S.$400,000 to purchase as physical servers. Software licensing costs would have added another $300,000 to that price tag.
Redynamics also saves money by not having to refresh the PCs in its training room every few years. Instead of refreshing the PCs, the firm uses virtualized desktops, an annual cost avoidance of approximately $100,000 annually.
Best of all, staffing costs are dramatically lower in a cloud environment. “We have just three staff members caring for our data center, whereas we would have required six to eight people without a private cloud environment, an annual cost avoidance of $150,000,” Chou says. The time and cost savings from faster classroom setup time totals about 160 hours a month, or an annual cost avoidance of $100,000. “With all these savings, we had a three-month return on our private cloud investment,” Chou says.Higher Server Utilization
By moving to a private cloud environment, Redynamics also gained better utilization and control of its server resources. By packing each host server with virtual machines, it is making full use of the powerful processors and ample memory resources inside rather than leaving them unused.
“We were starting to have the same problems with virtual machines that we had with physical servers, namely uncontrolled sprawl,” Chou says. “With a private cloud environment, our infrastructure is better organized, more manageable, and less likely to grow chaotically. By using System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2012, we can better see how our resources are being utilized and ensure that we are using our entire virtualized infrastructure efficiently and not wasting any compute or storage resources.”Improved Customer Service through Higher Availability
Redynamics delivers higher and more predictable service levels across its IT environment by using a private cloud model. The company’s private cloud configurations are clustered for high availability, which was not affordable with physical servers. Additionally, because the staff now has insight into application performance with System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2012, it knows what is happening with those applications and can take proactive action before something fails.
“When we are showing customers new applications and proofs-of-concept, it wastes their time and makes a bad impression if an application fails,” Chou says. “It also takes our staff a lot of time to rebuild failed applications, so high availability is important to our business.” Microsoft System Center 2012
Microsoft System Center 2012 helps your organization achieve IT as a service by enabling productive infrastructure, predictable applications, and cloud computing on your terms. With System Center 2012, use a self-service model to deliver flexible and cost-effective private cloud infrastructure to your business units while capitalizing on existing data center investments. Applications run your business, so System Center 2012 is designed to offer deep application insight combined with a service-centric approach to help you deliver predictable application services. Finally, by using System Center 2012, you can deliver and consume private and public cloud computing on your terms, with common management experiences across both.
For more information about Microsoft System Center 2012, go to: For More Information
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