Leading Vienna-based telecommunications network service provider Hutchison 3G Austria launched the first purely 3G mobile multimedia network in Austria. It wanted to migrate from physical to virtual servers to reduce its IT infrastructure operating costs and help drive further market innovations. Working with Hewlett-Packard, it chose the Windows Server 2008 R2 operating system with Hyper-V technology—instead of VMware—because it was more cost effective and better suited to its needs. Server provisioning, which could take up to three days, now lasts less than three hours. The environment is ready to support the launch of profitable new consumer products, reduces operational and energy costs, and offers greater security for customers against the risk of outages. With the solution, Hutchison 3G Austria has avoided the need to create extra data-centre space and recruit more IT staff.Situation
Hutchison 3G Austria, a subsidiary of Hong Kong–based Hutchison Whampoa, is a universal mobile telecommunications system provider in Austria. The Vienna-based company—founded in 2003—launched the first purely mobile multimedia 3G network in Austria and has quickly built a leading market position, with 1 million subscribers. Hutchinson 3G Austria relies on technology and processes that are easily managed and highly stable to keep IT employee numbers low as its subscriber base grows. As a result, it wanted to embrace virtualisation for its Windows servers to help better manage cost and quality in a complex service environment.
Its aim was to virtualise existing servers and use virtualisation for the provisioning and roll out of new servers, which traditionally took between two and three days. Martin Diewald, Engineer for Windows Operations, Hutchison 3G Austria, says: “We have a small IT team that has operated with cost control in mind from the beginning. We did not use the whole capacity of our systems and this was one of the main reasons behind our virtualisation strategy.”
Hutchison 3G Austria started the assessment for the migration work, beginning with the internal office environment, which has 50 Windows servers and 450 users. Analysis showed that each one had a load of only 10 to 15 per cent of its capacity.
“We could see virtualisation would be a good plan,” says Diewald. The vision extended to the main part of the IT team workload—providing new products and services for customers. Virtualisation would also make it faster and easier for the company to harvest more revenue sooner based on a shorter product life cycle.”
Virtualisation was also the answer to several other related challenges for Hutchison 3G Austria in its office, production, and test divisions—all aimed at better managing costs and quality. They include increased data security and accuracy, lowering costs associated with increasing data-centre space, cutting energy consumption, and making it easier to replace or retire servers.
Finally, Hutchison 3G Austria wanted to reduce the risks and costs associated with disaster recovery by using virtualisation for its second data centre, which was located outside Vienna. Diewald says: “We were moving a lot of physical machines out of the data centre every week, which was incurring a lot of overhead for cabling and switching. With virtualisation, this would be much easier and take less time.”Solution
Hutchison 3G Austria turned to its implementation partner Hewlett-Packard for an architecture transformation strategy and advice on cost-effective licensing. For this work, the team used the Microsoft Assessment and Planning Toolkit, an inventory assessment and reporting tool.
Having initially considered VMware, the company instead chose the Windows Server 2008 R2 Datacenter and Enterprise operating systems with Hyper-V technology. Hutchison 3G Austria concluded that Hyper-V was a mature product with advanced features for managing server migration quickly and effectively. Diewald says: “The VMware offering contained features that we didn’t need, and was much less cost effective than Microsoft as an overall solution for our business.”
With a Microsoft Enterprise Agreement for Volume Licensing of software already in place, the proposal was attractive from a licensing perspective. Due to its System Center Server Management Suite Datacenter licence, the IT team had access to products for managing and monitoring a virtual environment. These include Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008 R2.
During the test phase, Hyper-V demonstrated excellent migration functions, which made it simpler to allocate storage for the individual virtual machines. It was first assessed as a two-node cluster using an older version of Hyper-V. But with Windows Server 2008 R2, four independent cluster systems were implemented comprising three three-node clusters and one two-node cluster, used exclusively for testing machines.
The deployment used the Live Migration feature of Hyper-V, which offers a failover clustering solution without any downtime for the virtual machine.
The virtual machines are supporting Microsoft collaboration technology and data management software for information workers. Diewald says: “We have Microsoft Internet Security and Acceleration (ISA) Server 2006 virtualised in our test environment and have begun to virtualise Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 communication and collaboration server.”Benefits
Using Hyper-V, Hutchison 3G Austria is curbing high operational costs while continuing to respond quickly and effectively to market opportunities. Around 50 new virtual machines are in use already, with server provisioning time reduced from two to three days, to less than three hours. Operational risk has been cut, with new possibilities for disaster recovery. IT team headcount remains low.
Virtualisation Meets Flexibility and Cost Containment Targets
Hutchison 3G Austria is responding more quickly to the needs of the business with its virtual server provisioning capacity. This will accelerate even further when the scheduled migration of the physical machines begins.
With fewer servers required, the company cost containment targets are being met. Diewald calculates that out of 100 physical servers, the IT team can consolidate on 11 virtual servers with around 30 retained as physical servers without any change.
Such savings on the cost of physical servers will become even more significant because, with business expansion, Hutchison 3G Austria is expecting to have many more servers. Diewald says: “We think it’s possible that at the end of 2010 we’ll have 200 servers here—we want to develop all the new products and services using virtual servers.”
Server Provisioning Time Cut from Three Days to Just Three Hours
The IT team is virtualising servers at the rate of about 10 a month. Diewald says: “With Hyper-V, we’ve reduced provisioning time for new servers from two to three days, to less than three hours. Currently, with 50 virtual machines in use, we’ve saved money that previously would have gone on acquiring and setting up more physical servers.”
IT Team Simplifies Server Management
Due to the automation features of System Center Configuration Manager 2008 R2, the IT team at Hutchison 3G Austria is freeing technicians to work on higher-value projects. Diewald says: “In the past, we needed two full-time engineers to manage server provisioning, but now we only need one. We also spend less time on maintenance and operations. This is helping to keep our IT headcount low, in line with company policy.”
Resilience Improves with Less Risk of Customer Outages
Diewald says: “If we experience hardware problems, we can use the back up and support in our data centre much more easily with Hyper-V and its Live Migration feature. Previously, a technician might have to drive to the data centre in the night to change some server parts. Now, with virtualisation, it’s easy for us to switch on another node or to another location in Vienna. This is an advantage in managing the risk of outages for customers.”
Energy Savings Help Deliver Green IT Agenda
Hutchison 3G Austria is expecting to make a major saving on electricity spend with the switch to virtual servers, which is in line with the company’s environmental sustainability policies. Diewald says: “Virtual servers will make a major contribution to improving the carbon footprint of the company.”
Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard Partnership Ensures Success
According to Diewald, the leadership from Hewlett-Packard combined with the Microsoft virtualisation technology have provided the company with a competitive edge. He says: “It was a major advantage that everything came from one source—the parent operating system, the virtualisation feature, and the other components of the solution—producing savings in licensing and benefits from interoperability.”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.
For more information about Microsoft virtualization solutions, go to:
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