4-page Case Study
Posted: 10/7/2009
2003
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Rockwool Group Rockwool Group Consolidating 400 Servers with Enrollment for Application Platform

Rockwool Group, a leading manufacturer of stone wool insulation products, generated U.S.$2.7 billion in 2008 revenue from the efforts of its more than 8,000 employees. The company operates 21 factories on three continents and has sales and distribution offices around the world. As the company has enjoyed enviable growth, its IT infrastructure blossomed with hundreds of servers including more than 160 database servers. The company wanted to consolidate 9 terabytes of data onto the Microsoft Application Platform, but was concerned about increasing IT expenditures during a global economic downturn. Rockwool is taking advantage of the Microsoft Volume Licensing Enrolment for Application Platform, a flexible new multi-year agreement that allows an organization to deploy as many licenses of selected software as it needs for a set yearly fee.

Situation


Rockwool Group, based in Hedehusene, near Copenhagen, Denmark, is the world's leading producer of stone wool, an insulating material used to enhance the quality of life for people in homes and offices around the world. The company has more than 8,000 employees, and operates 21 factories on three continents. Rockwool, which generated 2008 revenue of U.S.$2.7 billion, has a worldwide network of sales offices, distributors and partners ensuring that its stone wool products reach all parts of the globe.

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* The EAP is exactly what we needed because we can now use SQL Server 2008 wherever we need it —without having to make new budget proposals. *
Morten Bro
Global IT Operations Manager, Rockwool Group
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The company, which was founded in 1937, has a long history of research, product development, and growth. Recent decades have seen steady growth into international markets. Along the way the Rockwool IT group has contributed to the company’s success by creating the information services infrastructure to support its growth.

Over the years, a number of application servers and databases had been deployed to meet specific needs. With the success and growth of Rockwool, the IT infrastructure had become diffuse and difficult to manage, growing to more than 400 server computers, with about 250 hosting applications, and the rest storing data.

“We have more than 9 terabytes of data spread over some 160 database servers running a spectrum of solutions, ranging from DB2 to Oracle, Informix, Microsoft® SQL Server® and Access™,” says Morten Bro, Global IT Operations Manager at Rockwool Group. “And this is in addition to our SAP ECC 6.0 enterprise resource planning, which is hosted on an IBM iSeries midrange server with DB2. We very much needed to consolidate our non-SAP infrastructure to reduce the number of servers and databases we were supporting.”

The company had long ago adopted the Microsoft Application Platform to support its non-SAP infrastructure, but as the IT group proposed deployment of new server computers to consolidate instances of Oracle, Informix, DB2, Access, and other databases onto Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Enterprise running on the Windows Server® 2008 Enterprise operating system, it had to deal with constrained budgets during a global business downturn. The company needed to find a way to get the Microsoft Application Platform licensing it needed while working within its existing budget.

“We found that proposing new servers one at a time created budgeting issues for us, because we’ve had to cut our IT spending to cope with the general economic downturn,” Bro says. “On paper it looked as if the least expensive option was to just deploy onto the iSeries, because the cost of adding additional data to the existing infrastructure was free.”

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But in real life, the IT group knew that data has a tendency to grow and soon the iSeries would need to be scaled up.

“It is quite expensive to expand capacity on a midrange server,” Bro says. “We saw our future in consolidating onto inexpensive servers using the Microsoft Application Platform because we knew that there would be great total cost of ownership benefits by consolidating our disparate infrastructure. We needed an enterprise solution to licensing so our cost comparisons weren’t always up against the zero cost of just adding a database to the iSeries midrange server. Without the ability to consolidate we simply couldn’t provide the level of systems administration we wanted across the hundreds of databases running on Oracle, DB2, Access and Informix, as well as SQL Server.”

Solution


Rockwool found the solution it needed with the Microsoft Volume Licensing Enrollment for Application Platform (EAP), a flexible new multi-year agreement that allows an organization to deploy as many licenses of selected software as it needs for a set yearly fee. The EAP provides a simplified licensing solution that helps accelerate deployment and reduce operational costs by lowering up-front and ongoing costs.

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* With our EAP in place . . . We are extremely excited to start reducing our hundreds of server and database instances down to a handful of SQL Server instances, deployed as clusters to ensure high availability. *
Morten Bro
Global IT Operations Manager, Rockwool Group
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The company is using the EAP licensing to gain unlimited usage rights of SQL Server 2008 Enterprise (64-bit). The EAP also enables Rockwool unlimited usage rights to other elements of the Microsoft Application Platform, including Microsoft BizTalk® Server, Microsoft Office SharePoint® Server and Microsoft Visual Studio® Team System. Rockwool also participates in the Microsoft Services Premier Support program for end-to-end support services.

“The EAP is exactly what we needed because we can now use SQL Server wherever we need it—without having to make new budget proposals,” Bro says. “If we end up using more instances of SQL Server or some other Microsoft product than we anticipated in our EAP, we simply adjust our payments at the end of the three-year agreement. With our EAP in place we are able to start the process of server consolidation and database migration. We are extremely excited to start reducing our hundreds of server and database instances down to a handful of SQL Server instances, deployed as clusters to ensure high availability.”

The consolidation process is expected to be lengthy. While most server instances are located in the company’s two data centers, the IT group also supports server deployments in Rockwool factories and offices around the world. “In addition to the high-availability clusters we’ll be deploying with Windows Server technology, the EAP also gives us the freedom to create other instances of SQL Server or other Microsoft Application Platform products wherever we may need them in any of our operations around the world,” Bro says. “We no longer have to worry about new licenses; we just use the technology wherever it can improve our enterprise infrastructure and operations.”

Benefits


Rockwool Group is gaining the infrastructure control it had sought by using the EAP agreement to enable it to consolidate its server infrastructure, while gaining a lower total cost of ownership. The company will be able to provide tighter service level agreements to its internal customers, as well as explore new uses for features in SQL Server 2008.

Better Infrastructure Control
Bro says that the EAP agreement is going to help him sleep better at night, because of the greatly enhanced ability to monitor and control infrastructure by using the EAP agreement to deploy elements of the Microsoft Application Platform where and when needed to consolidate application and database servers.

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* With more than 9 terabytes of data to be consolidated onto SQL Server, we’re very interested in the Data Compression and Backup Compression features that were introduced with SQL Server 2008. *
Morten Bro
Global IT Operations Manager, Rockwool Group
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“Our infrastructure is mission-critical, so we need to increase the level of control we have over our infrastructure,” Bro says. “We currently manage as well as we can, but when you have individual servers and different forms of databases sitting in various locations around the world, it is difficult to achieve the level of systems administration that we need.”

While the Rockwool IT group has deep knowledge of the Microsoft Application Platform—and the iSeries and DB2 stack hosting its SAP implementation—it needs to call in specialized consultants to deal with Oracle, Informix, and other solutions it doesn’t support internally.

“One of my biggest fears is that some very important system suddenly goes down because an essential database or application fails and we need to call in someone from the outside, and it takes too long to fix things,” Bro says. “We recently had a problem with a flat-file data store and had to call someone in who spent a night and a day sorting things out. I won’t worry about problems like this when we consolidate onto SQL Server because we have very talented people, and because SQL Server is so stable, and it provides great monitoring tools that enable proactive actions.”

Lower Total Cost of Ownership
The EAP agreement provides Rockwool Group with a number of areas for savings, enabling it to achieve a lower total cost of ownership compared to its previous infrastructure. “We anticipate significant licensing savings as we phase out third-party solutions as part of our consolidation program,” Bro says.

Beyond reduced licensing costs, the company anticipates savings through lower expenses for hardware and consulting services. “We’ve found AS400 technology to be expensive to scale,” Bro says. “To add storage on an AS400 you need to buy special disks from a specific supplier. When running on the Microsoft Application Platform we can source SAN storage from EMC, Hitachi, Dell, HP, or a range of other vendors. The competition in the Windows world produces affordable high-quality solutions.”

Bro sees additional savings through Rockwool IT being able to support the Microsoft Application Platform without the specialized consultants it now requires for the different database solutions it supports. “Even if we had in-house expertise on Oracle, we would run into scheduling problems to provide continuous support. With SQL Server and the rest of the Microsoft Application Platform we have all of the expertise we need. Should anything exceptional occur, we

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* We anticipate significant licensing savings as we phase out third-party solutions as part of our consolidation program. *
Morten Bro
Global IT Operations Manager, Rockwool Group
*
also have our Premier Support. This all adds up to a lower total cost of ownership for Rockwool, which is especially important during the current economic environment.”

Tighter Service Level Agreements
Rockwool IT helps support its operations by billing its internal customers for the service and support it provides. The group is proud of the expert service it provides its internal customers using SQL Server databases, as well as the highly experienced database administrators who take care of the DB2 databases supporting SAP. But it has found it more difficult to gauge its services and invoice for support of Oracle and Informix servers. “We don’t completely support these databases internally, we call in outside resources,” Bro says. “We aren’t able to provide the level of support for Oracle and Informix that we provide for DB2 and SQL Server.”

“Our SQL Server support will get even better with server consolidation as we retire dozens of SQL Server instances on to a small number of highly available clustered deployments,” Bro says. “The greater control we will gain from consolidating on SQL Server will enable us to tighten our service level agreements, which our internal customers have been asking for.”

Ability to Explore New Uses
While server consolidation is the top project, Rockwool IT also has an interest in looking at features and capabilities of SQL Server 2008 that it hasn’t yet explored. “With more than 9 terabytes of data to be consolidated onto SQL Server, we’re very interested in the Data Compression and Backup Compression features that were introduced with SQL Server 2008,” Bro says. “We are also interested in making greater use of the SQL Server Online Indexing and SQL Server Integration Services. With our EAP agreement we can deploy new servers to take advantage of these or any other features that might be helpful for either specific instances or across the enterprise.” 

Summary
In summary, the Microsoft EAP agreement is helping Rockwool Group reduce its costs and more efficiently manage its IT infrastructure by enabling it to consolidate its collection of more than 400 servers, including more than 160 database servers from several vendors, into a small number of highly available clusters.

 
Windows Server 2008, SQL Server 2008, and Visual Studio 2008
Windows Server 2008, SQL Server 2008, and Visual Studio 2008 provide a secure and trusted foundation for creating and running your most demanding applications. Combined, the products offer advanced security technology, developer support for the latest platforms, improved management and Web tools, flexible virtualization technology to optimize your infrastructure, and access to relevant information throughout your organization.

For more information about Windows Server 2008, go to:
www.microsoft.com/windowsserver2008

For more information about SQL Server 2008, go to:
www.microsoft.com/sql/2008/default.mspx

For more information about Visual Studio 2008, go to:
www.microsoft.com/vstudio.

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 who are deaf or hard-of-hearing can reach Microsoft text telephone (TTY/TDD) services at (800) 892-5234 in the United States or (905) 568-9641 in Canada. 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 Rockwool Group products and services, visit the Web site at: www.rockwool.com


This case study is for informational purposes only. MICROSOFT MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, IN THIS SUMMARY.

Document published October 2009

Solution Overview



Organization Size: 8000 employees

Organization Profile

Rockwool Group, the world's leading producer of stone wool, an insulating material, has some 8,000 employees and operates 21 factories on three continents.


Business Situation

Over the years Rockwool’s IT infrastructure had grown to more than 400 servers with more than 160 database servers including Oracle, DB2, Informix, and Microsoft® SQL Server®. The company wanted to consolidate its server environment but licensing cost was an issue.


Solution

Rockwool is taking advantage of the Microsoft Volume Licensing Enrollment for Application Platform, a flexible new multi-year agreement that allows an organization to deploy as many licenses of selected software as it needs for a set yearly fee.


Benefits
  • Better infrastructure control
  • Lower total cost of ownership
  • Tighter service level agreements
  • Ability to explore new uses

Hardware
  • Intel-based server computers

Software and Services
  • Microsoft Consulting Services
  • Microsoft Services
  • BMC - Mission Critical
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Enterprise
  • Windows Server 2008 Enterprise
  • BMC - Platform Modernization

Vertical Industries
Manufacturing & Resources

Country/Region
Denmark

Business Need
  • Business Critical
  • Mission Critical

IT Issue
High Availability

Languages
English

Partner(s)
Microsoft Consulting Services Microsoft Services

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