Convergent Computing (CCO) wanted to provide training for mobile employees and simplify its virtual infrastructure. CCO deployed Windows Server 2008 R2 Service Pack 1, including Microsoft RemoteFX to deliver video through Remote Desktop Services and Dynamic Memory to better allocate virtual memory. Employees save 70 to 80 hours a month by eliminating live training, and CCO avoided spending U.S.$80,000 on new servers and a video conferencing system.
Convergent Computing (CCO), an IT consulting firm based in California, helps companies design, implement, and support their networking environments. About 55 of the company’s 80 employees travel constantly, helping customers implement new technologies. To keep their skills sharp, the consultants attended internal live training sessions every two to three weeks. However, this required that consultants leave customer sites during business hours and spend an average of one hour in traffic to get to the home office. CCO tried filming the classes and streaming them as video content, but the images ended up being too small to be useful.
CCO then tried deploying virtual desktops for remote employees by using Remote Desktop Services in the Windows Server 2008 R2 Enterprise operating system and the Virtual Desktop Infrastructure delivery model. CCO was happy with how Remote Desktop Services delivered day-to-day functions, but the technology still was not up to conveying full-motion video. “It was just too slow and choppy,” says Rand Morimoto, President of Convergent Computing. The company had similar problems delivering preassembled training sessions. “We put in a workaround using a media server, but this solution required three separate technologies,” Morimoto says. “We also looked seriously at video conferencing systems, but they all cost about [U.S.]$50,000.”
||We save 70 to 80 hours each month by delivering classes remotely using RemoteFX in Windows Server 2008 R2 Service Pack 1. At our consultant billing rate of $250 an hour, that’s more than $200,000 a year.
President, Convergent Computing
Meanwhile, CCO was spending a lot of money managing its server resources. “We had once been 100 percent VMware for virtualization,” says Morimoto. “When Hyper-V virtualization technology became available from Microsoft, we started migrating to it. But we still needed VMware to handle some specific memory allocations and test scenarios.” That meant maintaining separate server environments, licensing fees, and expensive VMware consultants.
In February 2010, Convergent Computing learned about Windows Server 2008 R2 Service Pack 1 (SP1) and began testing the beta version. Among the improvements in SP1 is Microsoft RemoteFX software, a virtualization technology that provides remote users with an experience that is as rich as that of locally connected users.
With RemoteFX, virtual desktop users can watch full-motion video, enjoy Microsoft Silverlight–based animations, and run three-dimensional applications—all through a standard Remote Desktop Services connection. “With RemoteFX, we plugged a high-definition camera into our remote desktop server,” Morimoto says. “We now film the classes and stream full-motion video of live training through RemoteFX. For a remote user, it’s just like being there in person.” Remote users can also easily access preassembled training materials through Remote Desktop Services. “I was able to consolidate three technologies to one for the purpose of conducting remote training on demand,” says Morimoto.
Another new feature in Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 is Dynamic Memory, a memory management enhancement that dynamically adjusts memory between Hyper-V virtual machines according to workload needs. It enables higher virtual machine density and thus fewer hosts. “With Dynamic Memory, we can now use Hyper-V to achieve 100 percent of what we used to do with VMware,” Morimoto says. CCO has thus eliminated its four VMware-based server computers.
As of March 2011, CCO has deployed Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 to seven host servers plus two online spare host servers. On those host servers, it has created 48 virtual machines, an average of seven virtual machines per host. CCO has virtualized all workloads that can be virtualized, including Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 communications software, Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 collaboration software, accounting software, and customer relationship management software.
By using the latest virtualization technologies for its server operating system, Convergent Computing has reduced costs, saved time, and simplified its IT infrastructure.
Savings and Cost Avoidance of $80,000
Because CCO can use RemoteFX to deliver video to remote users, it avoided the need to purchase a $50,000 video conferencing system. CCO also saved money by consolidating servers and media delivery technologies. “We used Dynamic Memory to get rid of four VMware-based servers and used RemoteFX to eliminate one dedicated video server. At an average refresh cost of $5,500 a server, that’s a cost avoidance of $27,500 in hardware, plus software licenses and other costs,” Morimoto says. CCO saves another $15,000 a year by eliminating VMware consultant fees.
CCO boosted server utilization from 60 percent to 93 percent by packing more virtual machines in each server. “With Dynamic Memory, we have been able to better optimize our Hyper-V environment, reducing our total server count by 30 percent,” Morimoto says.
Time Savings for Consultants and IT Staffers
Mobile consultants can now participate in training classes without driving to the home office. “We save 70 to 80 hours each month by delivering classes remotely using RemoteFX in Windows Server 2008 R2 Service Pack 1,” Morimoto says. “At our consultant billing rate of $250 an hour, that’s more than $200,000 a year.”
CCO has also streamlined its IT infrastructure. “Since deploying Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1, we have fewer server computers, fewer products to support, and fewer vendors to deal with,” says Morimoto. “With everything in the same environment, we have simplified maintenance, management, and support. We have streamlined our IT systems and our user access. All of those are huge benefits.”
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