arvato has a large global IT infrastructure that it uses to provide a variety of outsourced services to customers. Its Customer Services IT organization decided to switch from VMware to Hyper-V virtualization technology in the Windows Server
2012 operating system to gain greater host server density and performance, lower costs, and the ability to virtualize databases. By also deploying Microsoft System Center 2012 R2, arvato has automated datacenter management and reduced costs.
arvato AG is a leading international technology provider that makes its living by and with digital technology. More than 66,000 employees design and deliver innovative, integrated solutions for business customers from around the world, covering various
business processes across integrated service chains. These include digital marketing, financial, customer relationship management, supply chain management, and IT solutions, in addition to services related to the creation and distribution of printed materials
and digital storage media.
As an international technology provider, arvato operates in a business environment that is unpredictable and subject to rapid change. Companies often turn to arvato because they need business processes implemented faster than they can do so themselves, so
time is of the essence in setting up the underlying technology infrastructure for customer services. The arvato Customer Services IT organization wanted to streamline the process of deploying IT infrastructure for customer solutions and reduce the number of
manual steps for daily tasks such as implementing security updates.
arvato Customer Services IT has three main datacenters in Germany and 179 other locations where customer-supporting technology is located. The division had used VMware software to virtualize 60 percent of the 1,500 servers in its main datacenters but did
not go further with virtualization because of high VMware licensing and maintenance costs; VMware required specialized management tools and staff.
Additionally, most arvato server sites are call centers, which run a key application that uses Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 database software. arvato had been unable to virtualize these databases with VMware.
In 2013, arvato Customer Services IT upgraded 10 datacenter servers to the Windows Server 2012 Datacenter operating system to take advantage of the capacity improvements to Hyper-V virtualization technology. Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V supports host
servers with up to 320 logical processors and 4 terabytes of physical RAM, virtual machines with up to 64 virtual processors and 1 terabyte of memory, and clusters with as many as 64 nodes and 8,000 virtual machines per cluster. “We can create very large Hyper-V
clusters with Windows Server 2012. Greater virtual machine density and performance mean lower costs,” says Michael Mausbach, Technical Producer in arvato Customer Services IT.
||Because we have unlimited guest virtual machine licenses included in our Windows Server 2012 license, we will realize considerable savings.
| Michael Mausbach
Technical Producer, arvato Customer Services IT
arvato also liked the simplicity of having the hypervisor built into the operating system. “When you run the guest and host operating systems and the virtualization layer on the same platform, you get better performance and vendor support,” Mausbach says. “It
was also nice to have private cloud capabilities available to us, because we are looking to build a private cloud down the road.”
Mausbach is referring to the ability to use Windows Server 2012 and Microsoft System Center 2012 R2—which it also deployed—to convert its virtualized infrastructure into a highly automated environment where compute, storage, and networking resources can
be dynamically assigned and reallocated to workloads on the fly.
arvato uses the Configuration Manager component of Microsoft System Center 2012 R2 to deploy operating systems, applications, and security updates to client computers. It uses the Virtual Machine Manager component to deploy virtual machines, Operations Manager
to monitor server health, and Orchestrator to automate processes.
arvato Customer Services IT deployed Windows Server 2012 on 10 clustered host servers and plans to add 30 more by the end of 2014. On its existing cluster it runs a mixed application portfolio that changes with customer needs but currently includes Microsoft
SQL Server 2012 and SQL Server 2008 R2 databases, application servers, web servers, and a virtual desktop infrastructure. It uses HP ProLiant 380 Gen8 servers, which provide excellent performance and remote management capabilities.
arvato also plans to move its call center database servers to Hyper-V. “We were impressed that we could run SQL Server virtually by using local storage without needing a storage area network and replication,” Mausbach says. “We plan to virtualize our call
center database servers and replicate the virtualized data to the main datacenter for recovery.”
In its main datacenters, arvato Customer Services IT is undertaking a cluster-by-cluster migration of VMware virtual machines to Hyper-V as VMware maintenance comes up for renewal.
By upgrading to Windows Server 2012 and System Center 2012 R2, arvato Customer Services IT has realized the following benefits.
Streamlined datacenter management. By taking advantage of the extensive automation capabilities provided by System Center 2012 R2, the arvato IT staff is able to deploy servers more reliably and accurately. Greater process automation eliminates
human error and inconsistencies, which reduces rework and delays that can affect customers.
Lower datacenter costs. As it transitions from VMware to Hyper-V, arvato Customer Services IT will realize significant savings. “Because we have unlimited guest virtual machine licenses included in our Windows Server 2012 license, we will
realize considerable savings,” Mausbach says. “We will also see lower costs due to the greater virtual machine density and performance of Hyper-V, which reduces the number of host servers we need. We can fit 10 percent more virtual machines in a Hyper-V host
than a VMware host, which will save us the cost of two blade servers. Also, having a more integrated solution stack and greater automation reduces datacenter management costs.”
Ability to virtualize database servers. Thanks to the capacity improvements in Windows Server 2012
Hyper-V, arvato will be able to virtualize its call center SQL Server databases that previously required six standalone servers. “The more workloads we can virtualize, the more money we will save,” Mausbach says.
For more information about other Microsoft customer successes, please visit: