The nonprofit environmental protection organization Natuurmonumenten in the Netherlands wanted to reduce the operating costs for its aging infrastructure and share them with eight more partner organizations—two other partners joined later. Virtualization
seemed a logical and environmentally sustainable path, and the society initially favored deploying VMware virtualization software. But the HP/Microsoft Frontline Partnership offered a more complete solution using the Windows Server 2008 R2 Datacenter operating
system with Hyper-V technology, and the Microsoft System Center suite of products for infrastructure management. Microsoft Gold Partner Avanade took responsibility for project management, systems integration, and technical support. Natuurmonumenten will now
pay 40 per cent less in operating costs for its IT infrastructure and benefit from a disaster recovery site for the first time. It can also expect further savings as additional partners join.
Natuurmonumenten is an environmental protection nonprofit organization in the Netherlands, with 730,000 members. The society manages and safeguards more than 100,000 hectares of land across 345 different areas, working with local authorities, utilities,
and residents. It also collaborates with eight other nonprofit organizations in the Netherlands, sharing an IT infrastructure to reduce the cost of hardware and software. Together, they ensure maximum uptime and security for around 1,200 user accounts.
Gerard ter Haar, Team Lead, Systems and Network Management, Natuurmonumenten, says: “Our IT infrastructure dated back to 2004, and we only had one data center. Most of our infrastructure management depended on manual systems. We needed a technology refresh
to reduce operating costs, but also to lower risk because we didn’t have a disaster recovery site that could help us ensure business continuity.”
As an environmental organization, Natuurmonumenten needed to improve its carbon footprint by cutting back on electricity consumption, boosting its green credentials. In line with its commitment to support other organizations similar to itself, the charity
also wanted to expand the number of agencies with which it shared IT services—from eight to 10.
Ter Haar says: “With 10 organizations sharing a common infrastructure and management costs, this was clearly a better business proposition, helping all partners reduce overheads. Our ultimate aim is to include even more partners to achieve greater economies
of scale and cut overheads. Virtualization, together with easily integrated infrastructure management software, seemed a good way to achieve these objectives.”
Initially, Natuurmonumenten chose VMware as its preferred virtualization technology, but that left the challenge of improving operational management. The society decided that it needed a complete integrated package that included operational management software
and technical support for the data center, as well as a new disaster recovery site.
Following a request for proposal at the start of 2010, Natuurmonumenten turned to the HP/Microsoft Frontline Partnership to design and supply a solution. This also involved Microsoft Gold Partner Avanade for systems integration, project management, and technical
support to ensure the society gained maximum value from its new infrastructure. HP supplied blade servers and helped the customer with the physical installation.
Natuurmonumenten—which already mainly used Microsoft and HP technologies—upgraded from the Windows Server 2003 operating system to Windows Server 2008 R2 Datacenter with Hyper-V virtualization technology. This also included advanced management technology
for the two data centers, handling 20 terabytes of data with Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008 R2 and Microsoft System Center Operations Manager 2007 R2.
||Provisioning new virtual machines is now 10 times faster than with the physical servers.
| Dennis Harders
Solution Architect, Elastic Datacenter
Dennis Harders, Solution Architect, Elastic Datacenter, Avanade, led the project management and software integration for 165 virtual machines. He says: “Although we don’t have specific metrics on savings, with System Center Virtual Machine Manager technology
and HP servers, the solution is highly flexible. Provisioning new virtual machines is now 10 times faster than with the physical servers.”
Natuurmonumenten has a highly reliable and easy-to-manage infrastructure, which can scale up to accommodate new partner organizations, helping to reduce costs. Electricity consumption is now lower and the society has a disaster recovery site for the first
time to ensure business continuity. The organizations that share the Natuurmonumenten infrastructure are expected to pay 40 per cent less for the service. In future, it may be offered as a cloud-based service.
Participating Organizations Pay 40 Per Cent Less for Infrastructure
The infrastructure refresh has given Natuurmonumenten a highly scalable platform through which it is capable of supporting like-minded charities that want to be part of a shared service. The upgrade makes it much easier and more cost effective to immediately
increase the number of partners from eight to 10. It also provides an infrastructure that can support new services such as Microsoft SharePoint collaboration software and unified communications with Microsoft Lync, which the society wants to test in the near
Ter Haar says: “This year, thanks to Hyper-V, our partner organizations will have the same functionality, the benefit of a disaster recovery site at no extra cost, and, in addition, will pay 40 per cent less for their IT. They’ll also have an improved and
more resilient wide area network service as part of the upgrade.”
Architecture Reduces the Complexity of Operational Management
||The Microsoft System Center suite of products removes a layer of complexity from our operations and frees my IT team to work on higher value tasks.
| Gerard ter Haar
Team Lead, Systems and Network Management
The HP hardware and software integration work by Avanade has significantly reduced the previous highly complex operational management structure—provisioning virtual machines is 10 times faster and easier than before. “The Microsoft System Center suite of products
removes a layer of complexity from our operations and frees my IT team to work on higher value tasks,” says ter Haar.
Green Computing Meets Environmental Sustainability Aims
The Microsoft virtualization solution helps Natuurmonumenten and its partners support their commitment to environmental sustainability. Ter Haar says: “It’s difficult at this stage to measure the savings in terms of electricity consumption for air conditioning
and the reduction of carbon emissions. But, with a more efficient and productive data center, we’ve certainly reversed the trend for both of these costs to grow year-on-year.”
Avanade Supports Customer with Objective Advice
Avanade worked closely with Microsoft and HP to ensure that Natuurmonumenten emerged from the deployment process with a highly resilient solution. Ter Haar says: “Avanade was the ideal IT partner with a lot of technical skills. Its people are familiar with
Microsoft technology and helped us get the right solution and make the most of our IT assets.”
Organization Gets Platform for Cloud-Based Services
The next step for Natuurmonumenten is to offer the service through a private cloud. Ter Haar says: “We want to expand further with more organizations involved in sharing the costs, and we want to build-in new features and functionality. In the meantime,
it’s business as usual.”
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