Global IT services company Atos wanted to reduce the lead time required to produce ready-to-use test and development environments for customers and the firm’s in-house development team. Its IT services department Atos in a Box used the Microsoft Dynamic Data Center Toolkit and Hyper-V virtualization technology to provide the service in the cloud and on a pay-per-use model. Test and development environments for developers now take hours to produce instead of days or weeks on-premises.
Atos—formerly Atos Origin—is an international IT services company based in France, with 78,500 employees and annual revenues of €8.7 billion (U.S.$12.5 billion). It delivers consulting and development services for clients around the world.
Efficiency and fast time to market are key criteria for success in IT services and outsourcing. Atos is no exception. Employees use portable computers for development projects—whether working at Atos offices or customer sites. They need a reliable IT infrastructure for running software with demanding hardware requirements and conducting tasks such as classroom training, tutorials, and proof-of-concept environments.
Atos specializes in testing and acceptance management and relies on in-house developers and outsourced contractors to complete projects. Netherlands-based Hans ten Berge, Portfolio and Innovation Manager, Atos, says: “For development, testing, or evaluation of software, a portable computer is not always sufficient. When our employees in the Netherlands and abroad, or our customers, needed dedicated infrastructures, there were often long delays in creating ready-to-use environments.”
Creating infrastructures for developers would often take days or even weeks using on-premises tools. Such long lead times could mean the difference between success and failure of a client project or request for proposal. Atos wanted to reduce development lead time and the cost of providing new infrastructure to its staff and customers. It also needed to improve connectivity to the data center for software development teams working together from multiple locations in Europe, North America, and India.
Atos considered virtualization and a cloud-based infrastructure-as-a-service solution. Ten Berge says: “With a pay-per-use test and development environment model, our infrastructure costs would be significantly lower. This is because often we need these environments for the duration of a specific project.”Solution
To improve testing and acceptance management, Atos turned to its own IT services division Atos in a Box, which provides virtual desktops to customers and developers working for the company.
Peter Lemmen, Technical Specialist, Atos in a Box, says: “Our challenge was to find the technologies to build the testing and development infrastructure for a customer for a portable computer in less than a day.”
Initially, Atos in a Box evaluated VMware as a virtualization technology. The need to create a web portal with round-the-clock support meant that the company chose Hyper-V, along with a related set of technologies, including the Microsoft Dynamic Data Center Tookit for hosting providers.
Technicians built the test and development environment for Atos with the Windows Server 2008 R2 operating system, Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 data management software, and Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008 R2. The Cortex Cloud Control Panel from Citrix makes it easy for service providers and their customers to setup, provision, and maintain hosted services from a self-service interface.
Lemmen says: “We’ve created a flexible self-service data center for employees and our customers, using the Dynamic Data Center toolkit. Employees can now create virtual computers and provision them through an internet portal application in the data center. Virtual machines can be created with special templates that contain ready-to-use versions of the software for Microsoft development and productivity.
Atos in a Box deployed the solution at the beginning of 2011, and it has so far been used internally by 50 Atos developers and at three external Atos customer sites so far.Benefits
Atos launched its web-based infrastructure in less than a day. The solution reduces development lead time for Atos employees and customers, while enhancing the company’s service offering. A new license agreement, at no additional cost, has been created by Microsoft for partners such as Atos that want to use the toolkit as part of a product they intend to resell. Ten Berge says: “The time saved is a major productivity gain compared with before. It is helping Atos offer better customer service and become even more competitive.”
Instant access to ready-to-use virtual machines. Ten Berge says: “With Hyper-V technology, we can provide both in-house and customers’ developers with an appropriate infrastructure in around a day—less than an hour in some cases.”
Pay-per-use financial model reduces costs. Atos is no longer wasting its operational budget on acquiring licenses for testing and acceptance management software that is only needed on a temporary basis. Ten Berge says: “Instead of requiring capital expenditure for a permanent license, we can use our operating budget on a pay-per-use basis.”
Monthly invoicing provides business flexibility. In the current economic climate, a monthly invoicing model ensures better control and the ability to respond quickly to sudden changes in demand for developer time worldwide.
Efficient use of resources improves environmental sustainability.
With the switch to a cloud-based service, developers can access the infrastructure they need for specific projects. There is less of a demand on electricity and air conditioning at country sites. This contributes to the company’s green IT agenda and lowers its carbon footprint.
Self-service feature reduces burden on IT technicians. The self-service features from Atos in a Box mean there is less need for technicians to spend time building infrastructures for individual developers.This case study is for informational purposes only. MICROSOFT MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, IN THIS SUMMARY.