4-page Case Study
Posted: 5/9/2011
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barossa Local government authority cuts server space, power costs and carbon emissions by moving to a virtual machine environment.

“Doing more with less is a bit of a business cliché but that’s what we have been able to achieve here. We have added many benefits, from both an IT and business perspective, by deploying new server technology that consumes less power and lowers our power costs.”

Ryan England, Manager, Information and Communication Technology

The existing server equipment at The Barossa Council was near the end of its three-year life. The council’s small IT team wanted to decrease the number of its physical servers from 18 to 4 and consolidate its machines’ workloads without compromising the business services or support they provide to the council.

After some analysis and compatibility checks of its environment, the server refresh project at The Barossa Council took about eight weeks. Deploying Microsoft® Windows Server® 2008 R2 Hyper-V technology, Microsoft® System Center Virtual Machine Manager, and Microsoft® System Center Data Protection Manager 2010, the council moved its server environment to a virtual platform. “With virtualisation we can host many server solutions in a virtual environment, cut down our number of physical servers, and make the task of managing our servers much easier,” says Ryan England, the council’s Manager, Information and Communication Technology.

The Barossa Council now performs all workloads previously required on fewer servers and appreciates the many benefits that come with centralised management of its server environment. The council needs less physical space for the servers that remain, uses less power, enjoys lower power costs and generates less carbon emissions. It has also enhanced its disaster recovery.

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* “After our refresh, we can still deliver the same service to the business with fewer servers and a much lower power bill. That’s a big win for our management.“ *

Ryan England
Manager
Information and Communication Technology

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Business Needs

The technology and solutions in place at The Barossa Council were old. The 18 servers operating at the council were too many for a medium-sized organisation with only 145 employees and an IT staff of only three people. Additionally, the council leases a lot of its hardware and a number of its core business applications were coming out of their leases at the same time.

When Ryan England, Manager, Information and Communication Technology analysed the council’s existing hardware he found it had machines that were reaching only 10 percent of their potential workload.

“Everything was doing its job, but the technology was not allowing us to future-proof our business with any confidence,” says England.

“It made sense to look at all the options. One option was to just replace the boxes we had with boxes of similar specifications. Another option was virtualisation. This appealed to us because it had many benefits regarding server consolidation and server management. In the end it was a no brainer.”

Solution

The Barossa Council upgraded its 18 ageing physical servers to the Microsoft® Windows Server® 2008 R2 platform. The council moved these new Microsoft® Windows Server® 2008 R2 services to a virtual platform using Microsoft® Hyper-V™ Server 2008 R2, where they are now managed with Microsoft System Centre Virtual Machine Manager 2008 R2 across four physical servers with shared storage. The council also implemented Microsoft® Data Protection Manager 2010 as a backup and disaster recovery system to integrate with its new virtual environment.

At The Barossa Council’s main site at Nuriootpa the new server environment consists of four IBM xSeries host machines, connected through two redundant Cisco fibre switches to an IBM DS3400 storage area network. This gives The Barossa Council more than four terabytes of usable storage. The council used Microsoft® System Center Virtual Machine Manager to migrate its physical servers to the new virtual environment. Backups of the council’s virtual environment are copied off site to a facility in the nearby town of Tanunda. Here, the council uses one re-purposed IBM x3803 machine with over one terabyte of local storage as its disaster recovery server. This machine runs Microsoft® Hyper-V™ Server 2008 R2 and is managed in the Microsoft® System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008 R2 console.”

Benefits

83 percent reduction in power consumption and costs

With power bills on the rise, The Barossa Council has been able to reverse the trend and achieve a reduction in power consumption and costs of more than 80 percent.

“Each server takes two power cords, so you can do the maths on cutting down from 18 servers to four,” says England.

“Power consumption in our server room has gone down dramatically with virtualisation. Previously, the power requirement for a fully populated server rack was very high, and we needed to split that load across a number of different power circuits.

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* “Running up a virtual server for testing is simple and takes a matter of minutes rather than the previous time-consuming process of dealing with so much physical hardware.” *

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“After our refresh, we can still deliver the same service to the business with fewer servers and a much lower power bill. That’s a big win for our management.

“Doing more with less is a bit of a business cliché but that’s what we have been able to achieve here. We have added many benefits, from both an IT and business perspective, by deploying new server technology that consumes less power and lowers our power costs.”

Fewer servers and reduced physical space requirements

England says there was no decision involved in moving The Barossa Council from 18 servers to one rack of four servers. This change decreased the council’s server requirement by more than 80 percent, and reduced the physical space needed to house them by
66 percent.

“We have drastically decreased the amount of server hardware we have to maintain,” says England. “This was a big advantage for us given that we are a semi-regional council, and by minimising the amount of hardware we have to look after we can free our time for more productive IT matters. Going with virtualisation technology meant we could minimise the number of servers we had, but still deliver the business results we wanted.”

Rather than have one server performing many different roles, The Barossa Council now has a server for print services, another for anti-virus protection, and so on. Gone are the days when problems with one server would affect many different business functions, and many employees. Under the terms of its licence, The Barossa Council can have unlimited virtual machines running on its new hardware.

“This allows us to configure our environment the way we want, rather than be limited to the number of virtual machines we can have,” says England. “This ease of management is very attractive.

“And of course, we enjoy having a much smaller server room. We were able to decommission one full rack in our server room and now our total server environment is hosted out of one rack.”

Easier to manage

Using Microsoft® System Center Data Protection Manager 2010 The Barossa Council can replicate its virtual environment seamlessly to its disaster recovery environment. Previously, with 18 servers, the council had to back up each server. Now, not only can the council’s small IT team proactively manage its servers, it can also create a
test and development environment with ease.

“Running up a virtual server for testing is simple and takes a matter of minutes rather than the previous time-consuming process of dealing with so much physical hardware,” says England.

“We are much more proactive now, rather than reactive. And that’s important for us because we are a team of only three people. Being able to manage an environment easily from one console has meant we can do much more. Implementing a project like this and delivering the benefits we sought with minimal impact to our business has been very rewarding.

“People were aware that things were changing, but the fact we heard from no-one during the process tells me it was a successful changeover.

“My job is easier because I can manage our servers from one console. I can take snapshot backups and operate disaster recovery. This gives me the confidence to know our environment is stable and in the right shape for the future. We are more than happy with the decision we made to go with the Microsoft solution.”

No additional licensing costs

While England says there were many reasons The Barossa Council chose Microsoft, having an open value agreement with Microsoft already in place was the main factor behind its decision.

“We needed a number of new servers, so we looked at various technologies and with the Hyper V solution included in the Windows Server licensing we already had with Microsoft, we did not have any additional licensing costs,” says England.

“That was one of the big factors from a business perspective. I did not need to seek approval for X dollars for hardware and X dollars for new licensing.

“Also, the Hyper-V technology has matured a lot, and version 2 provides many more benefits such as live migration and support for Cluster Shared Volumes. With Microsoft, we were going to get these benefits under licenses we already had, at no extra cost. Combining this with other tools such as Data Protection Manager gave us a solution we were happy and confident with.”

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* “By analysing existing workloads we could determine the type of consolidation possible, how the server migration would be performed and estimate the potential savings. Through the use of virtualisation we also enhanced the backup and disaster recovery services which were enormously important to the Barossa Council.” *

Graham Rock
Professional Services Manager,
Data#3 South Australia

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Lower carbon emissions

Like many small to medium-sized organisations, The Barossa Council faces many challenges related to providing IT services, such as buying and operating multiple servers on a limited budget. Best practice often recommends dedicated servers for each business application, so even small organisations can experience server sprawl. This increases power, cooling, and management costs.

The Barossa Council’s server consolidation has not only allowed it to reduce its power consumption, but is has also cut its carbon emissions from server activity by more than 80 percent.

“More and more organisations are becoming aware of their carbon emissions,” says England. “We are no different. By reducing our running costs, we have also been able to reduce our carbon footprint.”

Microsoft Product that was featured

Microsoft® Hyper-V™ Server
2008 R2

Microsoft® Windows Server® 2008 R2 Hyper-V builds on the architecture and functions of Microsoft® Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V with new features that enhance product flexibility. Adopting virtualisation in the enterprise increases flexibility in deployment and life cycle management of applications. IT professionals deploy virtualisation to consolidate workloads and reduce server sprawl. They also use virtualisation with clustering technologies to provide a robust IT infrastructure with high availability and quick disaster recovery:

High levels of performance, availability, and security

Productive management and development tools

Self-service business intelligence

Support for large-scale data centres and data warehouses

Opportunities to build and extend applications in the cloud

Integration with the Microsoft Application Platform.

For More Information
For more information about Microsoft products and services call the sales and information line on 13 20 58 Monday to Friday 8am to 8pm AEST. To find a partner or solution, visit www.microsoft.com/australia/findapartner/ 

Solution Overview



Organization Size: 145 employees

Organization Profile

The Barossa Council is a medium-sized local government authority situated near Adelaide in South Australia. With about 145 employees, the council caters to the civic needs of the diverse residential, business, and visitor communities of the Barossa Valley, one of Australia’s premier tourist destinations, renowned for its gourmet food, wine and scenery.


Business Situation

The Barossa Council’s existing server equipment was at the end of its lifespan. The council’s small IT team wanted to refresh its machines without compromising its day-to-day business services and support to reduce costs and also make its servers easier to manage.


Solution

Consolidate 18 physical servers with multiple workloads into four new Microsoft® Hyper-V™ Server 2008 R2 virtual servers, move to a virtual platform, and bolster the back-up and data recovery system.111


Benefits
  •  83 percent reduction in power consumption and costs

  • Fewer servers and reduced physical space requirements

  • Easier to manage server enviroment

  • No additional licensing costs

  • Lower carbon emissions


Software and Services
  • Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager
  • Microsoft Hyper-V Server
  • Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2008 R2
  • Microsoft System Center Data Protection Manager 2010

Vertical Industries
  • Government
  • Architecture, Engineering & Construction

Country/Region
Australia

Business Need
  • Data Management
  • Cost Containment
  • Data Protection and Recovery

IT Issue
  • Virtualization
  • Desktop, Device and Server Management

Languages
English

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