Ascom provides testing software to many of the world’s major mobile telecommunications companies that need High Availability services 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It wanted to accelerate the quality and consistency of customer deployments. Working with Microsoft Gold Certified Partner Full Circle Technology, the company realised that Windows Server 2008 R2 with Hyper-V would help with deployment and be the ideal environment on which clients could run its monitoring solution.
Ascom Network Testing—formerly Argogroup—in Surrey, the United Kingdom (U.K.), is part of the Mobile Test Solutions business of the Switzerland-based company Ascom. It has subsidiaries in 18 countries and a workforce of 2,300 employees worldwide. As a developer of testing software for many of the world’s major mobile telecommunications providers, it is important for Ascom to provide the highest availability possible. John Brett, Senior Developer at Ascom, says: “People expect continuous service from our clients, so it’s important we provide them with a reliable solution.”
||In the past year, five requests for proposals have included requirements for resilience and a further five customers needed the scalability offered by Hyper-V. We can now meet those requests.
The heightened need for High Availability led to additional requirements. Brett says: “Customers were using our products to analyse their data, but they also wanted advice on how to fix their own systems to create a stable IT environment. They were asking us, ‘How can we scale our systems to process larger quantities of data?’ and ‘How can we make them more reliable?’” To provide answers to these questions, and possibly offer additional services to customers, Brett and his team started searching for a solution that would fit the immediate development needs of Ascom, and could also be adopted by customers.
Ascom has worked with Microsoft Gold Certified Partner Full Circle Technology on infrastructure projects for a number of years, so it made sense to collaborate on this particular solution. The team decided that using virtualised servers would provide a scalable, stable environment to develop and deploy applications. Windows Server 2008 R2 Enterprise—including Hyper-V with failover clustering, the virtualization feature that allows staff to maintain and upgrade applications without interrupting service—seemed like the best fit.
While developing the solution to use internally, the team realised that this could form part of the solution sold to clients. But it had to be tested first. “If we’re going to recommend a product to customers, we have to know that it works—and we have to understand the technology,” says Brett.
Reuben Cook, Chief Technical Officer at Full Circle, recommended that Ascom join the Microsoft Early Adopter Programme, through which it would get additional support with deployment. Cook says: “The Early Adopter Programme was a good opportunity to deploy the pre-release version of Windows Server 2008 R2. Ascom could build applications that would be ready by the time the Microsoft technology is released to market.”
After defining the scope of the project, Windows Server 2008 R2 was deployed in September 2009. Implementation was straightforward and it only took a week to build and test a High Availability Hyper-V failover cluster solution.
Deploying Windows Server 2008 R2 with Hyper-V gives Ascom a dynamic and stable development environment while providing the High Availability that clients need. With applications built on the latest technology, the company gives its customers solutions that run on the technology they want to use. This not only improves services to existing customers, but increases opportunity for new business. “With Windows Server 2008 R2, we can increase our product availability without having to develop more software. This has a great impact on our productivity and profitability,” says Brett.
- Better business opportunities. Offering services that customers want improves business. “In the past year, five requests for proposals have included requirements for resilience and a further five customers needed the scalability offered by Hyper-V. We can now meet those requests,” says Brett.
- Live Migration. The Live Migration feature in Hyper-V simplifies the way customers manage their data across multiple servers. They can update and repair servers with no impact on users, providing a dynamic, scalable, and stable solution.
- Increased customer satisfaction. Building applications around the latest technology improves the service customers receive. “A lot of our customers are already looking to use the latest products and the ability to say, ‘Yes, we can support your technology,’ puts us in a strong position in the market,” says Brett.
- Access to experts. Participants in the Early Adopter Programme get support from experts in the field. “Access to people who understand the latest technology has helped us develop best practices for technologies that are yet to come onto the market,” said Brett. “It’s nice to get that personal support from Microsoft.”
- Additional availability with no extra cost. Virtualised servers running on Hyper-V provide continuous service without the need to buy additional hardware or software.
Windows Server 2008 R2
Windows Server 2008 R2 is the latest version of the Windows Server operating system from Microsoft. With Windows Server 2008 R2, you can create solutions that are easier to plan, deploy, and manage than with previous versions of Windows Server. Building on the features, security, reliability, and performance provided by Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2008 R2 extends connectivity and control to local and remote resources. This means that your organisation can benefit from reduced costs and increased efficiencies gained through enhanced management and control over resources across the enterprise.
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