4-page Case Study
Posted: 6/1/2011
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Austrian Ministry of the Interior Ministry Uses Virtualization to Save $1.7 Million in Server Costs, Save Time

The Austrian Ministry of the Interior provides all public security services in Austria. To make its IT operations more cost-effective, the ministry has steadily reduced its server count. In 2010, it deployed the Windows Server 2008 R2 operating system with the Hyper-V virtualization technology to make even more significant progress on server reduction. By the end of 2011, the ministry will reduce 900 physical servers to 450 and have 150 virtual machines running on 25 two-node Hyper-V clusters. Because the IT staff can deploy virtual machines remotely, it will eliminate approximately eight weeks of annual travel time previously spent setting up servers in branch offices. And because the IT staff can deploy virtual machines in minutes, it can respond to business needs in days rather than weeks. Another plus: server availability is higher thanks to the use of Hyper-V failover clusters.

Situation
The Austrian Ministry of the Interior—known as Bundesministerium für Inneres, or BM.I—oversees all public security activities throughout Austria. Its domain covers the federal police, local law enforcement, border security, prevention of drug trafficking, and issues associated with domestic and international terrorism. The ministry employs 32,000 staff members in 1,200 locations.

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* [With Hyper-V] We can fit five virtual machines on each host server, which means that we save the cost of four physical servers. *

Wolfgang Spiess
Team Lead, Server Infrastructure, Austrian Ministry of the Interior

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The ministry’s IT staff of about 30 people has been working for years to streamline the agency’s sprawling IT infrastructure. At one point, in 2005, the ministry had as many as 2,500 servers in 1,200 locations. To reduce server acquisition and management costs, the IT staff began consolidating computing power and locations, and even experimenting with server virtualization. By 2008, it was down to about 900 servers in approximately 140 branch locations.

“Even with the impressive server reduction that we had achieved, it was quite challenging to manage 900 servers in more than 140 locations,” says Wolfgang Spiess, Team Lead for Server Infrastructure in the Austrian Ministry of the Interior. “We had consolidated our IT staff in Vienna, but because a good percentage of our servers were in field offices, we were constantly sending technicians all over the country to set up and care for servers. This was a significant drain on our IT resources.”

The global recession that began in 2007 pushed the ministry to work even harder to reduce costs. “Massive budget cuts became a driving factor in how we structured our IT infrastructure,” Spiess says. “We needed to further reduce server acquisition costs and related costs such as maintenance, electricity, and real estate. We didn’t have the budget to replace all those servers so we needed to reduce the number of servers.”

At the same time, however, the ministry could not sacrifice service availability with its aggressive server cutbacks. Police officers, border agents, and other ministry employees work around the clock, so IT applications also needed to be available at all times.

Solution
By 2010, the ministry was down to about 700 servers, which Spiess and his staff began upgrading to the Windows Server 2008 R2 operating system with Hyper-V virtualization technology (all servers already ran earlier editions of Windows Server). “We selected Hyper-V because of its deep integration with the operating system and also because of the rich management tools available through Microsoft System Center data center solutions,” Spiess says.

The ministry worked with local Microsoft Services representatives to deploy a mix of Windows Server 2008 R2 Standard, Enterprise, and Datacenter to 60 host servers, most of which are configured as two-node clusters. On these 60 servers the ministry has created approximately 150 virtual machines, with room for 200 more. The Hyper-V clusters are located in 10 data centers across the country. The ministry continued to pare field servers and ended up with 240 standalone (nonvirtualized) servers in police stations and other ministry locations around the country, for a total physical-server count of 300.

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* We selected Hyper-V because of its deep integration with the operating system and also because of the rich management tools available through Microsoft System Center data center solutions. *

Wolfgang Spiess
Team Lead, Server Infrastructure, Austrian Ministry of the Interior

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The IT staff is also beginning to evaluate and deploy Windows Server 2008 R2 with Service Pack 1. This new service pack includes Dynamic Memory, an enhancement to Hyper-V that allows memory on a host server to be pooled and dynamically distributed to virtual machines based on workload demand, without service interruption. This provides more consistency in system performance and simplifies management for administrators. “Dynamic Memory will make it easier to deploy more virtual machines on each host server, because we can ‘overbook’ the memory consumption on host servers and know that it will be distributed to the virtual machines that need it,” says Günter Spreitzhofer, Team Member, Server Infrastructure, Austrian Ministry of the Interior.

The ministry has virtualized a wide range of workloads, including databases running on the Microsoft SQL Server 2008 data management software, web servers, management servers, print servers, and security servers.

The ministry uses the Microsoft System Center data center solutions to manage its physical and virtual infrastructure. It licensed Microsoft System Center Server Management Suite Enterprise, which provides an economical way to obtain server management licenses for the four main System Center products—Microsoft System Center Operations Manager 2007 R2, Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager 2007 R2, Microsoft System Center Data Protection Manager 2010, and Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008 R2.

The IT staff uses System Center Configuration Manager to configure and deploy operating systems, applications, and security updates to both client and server computers. It uses System Center Operations Manager to monitor physical and virtual server performance.

The IT staff uses System Center Virtual Machine Manager to create and manage virtual machines running all over the country from a single console in Vienna. “System Center Virtual Machine Manager reports tell us which virtual machines need additional compute or memory resources so they perform better,” says Walter Felhofer, Team Member, Server Infrastructure, Austrian Ministry of the Interior. The team uses System Center Data Protection Manager to back up all of its Microsoft workloads to disk and tape.

Benefits
By virtualizing its server holdings using Hyper-V and System Center data center solutions, the Austrian Ministry of the Interior has been able to reduce its server holdings and avoid U.S.$1.7 million in server expenditures, and reduce server setup travel time. It will also be able to deliver servers faster and improve service availability.

Servers Cost Avoidance of $1.7 Million
By the end of 2011, by eliminating field servers and using virtualization, the ministry plans to reduce its number of physical servers from 900 to approximately 300 servers, a 66 percent reduction. With 150 virtual machines currently running on Hyper-V, the ministry will realize a cost avoidance of $1.2 million. “We can fit five virtual machines on each host server, which means that we save the acquisition cost of four physical servers,” Spiess says.

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* If one physical host fails, there are others that can take over its work. We’re able to provide better service to the public by providing police officers uninterrupted connection to their applications. *

Günter Spreitzhofer
Team Member, Server Infrastructure, Austrian Ministry of the Interior

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In addition, the ministry saves on operating system licenses by taking advantage of Microsoft licensing efficiencies—Spiess estimates approximately $170,000 a year.

Server Setup Time Savings
The ministry IT staff is far more efficient with a virtualized infrastructure. “With Hyper-V, we reduce server setup by six hours per server,” Spiess says. “During our initial rollout of Hyper-V, we virtualized 16 servers per week, saving about 100 hours per week. Our normal server deployment rate is about one or two servers a week; that’s a time savings of 10 or 12 hours a week that my staff can use to do planning and other things that have higher value to the organization.”

Travel Time, Costs Reduced
The ability to create virtual machines from a central console in Vienna also means that the IT staff no longer needs to travel around the country setting up servers. Two IT staff members used to spend a total of 320 hours a year traveling to branch offices deploying servers. This travel time and associated costs have been eliminated. “We have freed up a total of eight weeks annually for other tasks,” Spiess says. “We no longer need to send technicians to remote locations to install servers; instead, they configure virtual machines from the System Center Virtual Machine Manager console in Vienna.”

Faster Response to Business Needs
Not only has the ministry slashed its server, IT, and travel costs, but it can better serve its internal business teams by using virtualization. The IT team no longer has to order as many physical servers, wait for the servers to be delivered, unpack and configure them, test them, and either rack them or ship them to branch offices. “With Hyper-V, we can get virtual machines to our business groups in days rather than weeks,” Spiess says. “Because most of our business groups are outside of Vienna, this speedup is important.”

Improved Availability
The ministry also improved server and application availability by going to a virtualized data center model. Because 70 percent of the ministry’s virtual machines are on host servers configured as failover clusters, applications are well-protected. “If one physical host fails, there are others that can take over its work,” says Spreitzhofer. “We’re able to provide better service to the public by providing police officers uninterrupted connection to their applications.”

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:
www.microsoft.com/virtualization

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 in the United States and Canada who are deaf or hard-of-hearing can reach Microsoft text telephone (TTY/TDD) services at (800) 892-5234. 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 Austrian Ministry of the Interior services, visit the website at:
www.bmi.gv.at

Solution Overview



Organization Size: 32000 employees

Organization Profile

The Austrian Ministry of the Interior oversees all public security activities for Austria, including law enforcement, border security, and drug trafficking. The ministry employs 32,000 people.


Business Situation

To meet budget cuts, the ministry wanted to reduce server costs. It also wanted to respond more quickly to business needs and maintain high levels of reliability.


Solution

The ministry launched an aggressive server virtualization effort using the Windows Server 2008 R2 operating system with the Hyper-V virtualization technology and Microsoft System Center data center solutions.


Benefits

  • Server cost avoidance: U.S.$1.7 million
  • Server setup time savings
  • Travel time, costs reduced
  • Faster response to business needs
  • Improved availability


Hardware
  • Fujitsu Siemens PRIMERGY RX300 S4 and S5 servers
  • Fujitsu Siemens PRIMERGY RX300 S6 servers

Software and Services
  • Windows Server 2008 R2 Datacenter
  • Windows Server 2008 R2 Service Pack 1
  • Windows Server 2008 Enterprise
  • Windows Server 2008 Standard
  • Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager 2007 R2
  • Microsoft System Center Data Protection Manager 2010
  • Microsoft System Center Operations Manager 2007 R2
  • Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008 R2
  • Microsoft Services
  • Microsoft Hyper-V

Vertical Industries
National Government Agencies

Country/Region
Austria

Business Need
  • Cost Containment
  • Cloud & Server Platform

IT Issue
Virtualization

Languages
English

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