Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) constantly strives to improve IT efficiency. It is upgrading to the Windows Server 2012 operating system to take advantage of Hyper-V Replica to replicate workloads across data centers. With the ability to
run databases using the Server Core installation option, MSC can reduce server maintenance and improve database uptime. By using DirectAccess, MSC can simplify remote access to corporate systems.
Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) operates 455 container vessels and serves 335 ports on six continents. The company believes that technology is critical to shipping success and continuously adopts technology that gives it a competitive advantage.
||Hyper-V Replica simplifies our data center landscape because we are getting more capabilities from one vendor. It makes our infrastructure easier to maintain and support.
| Fabio Catassi
Chief Technology Officer, Mediterranean Shipping Company
MSC virtualized most of its servers around the world, but there was still need for improvement. While it used both VMware virtualization technology and the Hyper-V technology in the Windows Server 2008 R2 operating system, MSC was eager to shift more virtualized
workloads to Hyper-V to help reduce costs. However, VMware had one important capability that MSC needed—vMotion, used to migrate virtual machines between geographically remote host servers. “This was the one VMware feature that was critical to us,” says Fabio
Catassi, Chief Technology Officer for Mediterranean Shipping Company. “If Hyper-V had this capability, we could use it to replace hundreds of VMware virtual machines and save a lot of money.”
Another capability that was important to Catassi was Server Core support for database servers. Server Core is a scaled-back installation option for Windows Server 2008 R2 that presents a smaller malware attack surface and requires fewer security updates.
However, Server Core support was not available for database servers. This meant that MSC had to run its many Microsoft SQL Server–based databases on the full operating system and frequently take those databases offline for security updates.
Catassi also wanted to help mobile workers increase productivity. About 20 percent of the company’s employees travel. They connected to corporate applications by using virtual private networks (VPNs), but the connection process was so complicated and frustrating
that employees needed a lot of help. It became so challenging and expensive to address connectivity issues that MSC decided to ban the use of laptops in the United States. “The cost of supporting one laptop was equivalent to the cost of supporting 10 desktop
computers,” Catassi says. Instead, MSC gave mobile workers smartphones, which they could use to check email messages and access some applications. But employees had to visit a local office about once a week to take care of business that they couldn’t address
on their smartphones.
MSC joined the Technology Adoption Program (TAP) for the Windows Server 2012 operating system to explore new features that might help solve these problems. “By joining the TAP, we got early insight into Windows Server 2012 and could also provide feedback,”
Catassi says. “By the time the product is released publicly, we will already be in production, months before the rest of the market. It gives us a competitive advantage.”
MSC focused on three Windows Server 2012 features during the TAP:
Hyper-V Replica. Hyper-V Replica is a storage-agnostic and workload-agnostic solution that replicates virtual machines from a primary to a secondary site. “From a technical perspective, Hyper-V Replica is equal to vMotion but at a much lower
cost,” Catassi says. “Eventually, we will use Hyper-V Replica to replicate workloads across all our data centers.”
Server Core installation. The Server Core installation option in Windows Server 2012 supports SQL Server 2012 databases and provides easier management of Server Core installations overall. With this installation option, MSC will be able
to skip many monthly security updates to its many database servers.
DirectAccess. By using DirectAccess, remote users can access internal resources without connecting to a VPN. “The best thing I can say about DirectAccess is that it works like magic,” Catassi says. “When traveling employees
need to access a corporate application, they access it the very same way they do when in the office.”
MSC is running several production workloads on Windows Server 2012, including SQL Server databases, DirectAccess, and some domain controllers. All new servers will run Windows Server 2012, and the company will upgrade all of its Windows-based servers to
the operating system over the next 12 months.
By upgrading to Windows Server 2012, Mediterranean Shipping Company will have vital capabilities, such as virtual machine replication, built into the operating system, which will simplify its infrastructure and ultimately reduce the need for other solutions.
MSC can improve database availability by running SQL Server databases on the Server Core installation, and it can help simplify the connectivity process for mobile workers by implementing DirectAccess.
Improved Replication for Virtualized Workloads
Hyper-V Replica is a critical capability for MSC that is now built into the operating system. “Hyper-V Replica simplifies our data center landscape because we are getting more capabilities from one vendor,” Catassi says. “It makes our infrastructure
easier to maintain and support.”
There’s also a potential cost savings: MSC can eliminate expensive VMware licensing costs by migrating VMware workloads to Hyper-V. “Licensing and maintenance for running VMware hosts represents hundreds of thousands of dollars a year when you include implementation
and support costs,” Catassi says. “We can eliminate those costs with Windows Server 2012.”
Higher Availability for Database Servers
By using the Server Core installation for database servers, MSC can eliminate time-consuming security updates and achieve higher uptime for these critical workloads. “We are driving to five-nines availability for our critical database servers, and every
improvement helps us reach this goal,” Catassi says.
Easier Connection for Mobile Workers
Catassi has been so pleased with DirectAccess that he’s reconsidering the ban on off-premises computers and likely will move to touch-enabled tablet computers. “By using DirectAccess, employees can be far more productive on the road,” he says. “They
spend more time working and less time on support calls. From an IT perspective, mobile computers are much easier to support when connected via DirectAccess. Our support costs for portable computers will drop to about the same level as our costs for desktop
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