Headquartered in Seattle, Colliers International is one of the largest commercial real estate services companies in the world with 15,000 professionals operating out of more than 480 offices in 61 countries. It provides a full range of services to real estate users, owners and investors worldwide, including global corporate solutions, brokerage, property and asset management, hotel investment sales and consulting, valuation, consulting and appraisal services, mortgage banking and research. Colliers International is the second most recognized commercial real estate firm in the world, according to the latest annual survey by the Lipsey Company.
|Overall, our experience with Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V has been great. It has reduced our operating costs by 35%, IT management costs by 20%, and it has provided us with the stability and scalability to realize our plans to enable business with IT.|
Director, Information & Technology (Asia)
Colliers International Hong Kong Limited
Colliers International’s Hong Kong office is the IT hub for the company’s Asia operations. As such, it provides IT support to offices in South Korea, Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan and seven offices in India and five in Mainland China, as well as franchise offices in Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia.
“Our business success depends on how well we share information between our different offices,” says Joe Lau, Director, Information & Technology (Asia), Colliers International Hong Kong Limited. “Therefore, IT plays an important role in our operations and we need a robust and powerful IT platform to enable seamless inter-office communication and collaboration.”
The high level of dependency on IT means that Colliers International is experiencing server sprawl and IT management challenges. “We now have 40 servers in Hong Kong,” says Lau. “We were experiencing server crashes every month. Our IT team resources were being drained by housekeeping and troubleshooting tasks. And, because our [Asia] offices range from Korea to India, team members regularly had to work outside normal hours and even on public holidays.”
In addition to management challenges, the high number of servers was also costing the company in terms of space and utilities. “Our datacenter was fast running out of space,” Lau explains. “Electricity costs were also an issue. The power bill for the datacenter was running to HK$10,000 per month.”
In 2009, Colliers International began planning a long-term IT roadmap, which would involve several upgrades, including moving the e-mail system to Microsoft® Exchange 2007, running Microsoft SharePoint® 2010 and developing more customer relationship management capabilities with Microsoft Dynamics™ CRM. The planned increase in computing power, while critical for the business, would also result in expansion of servers and even greater pressure on resources. Colliers International realized that virtualization was no longer just an option for their Asia business; it had become a necessity.
The company began to seek a virtualization solution that would be flexible enough to adapt to their business needs, effective in reducing the server count and utility costs, and easy enough to use that it could serve as a platform to establish IT environment testing.
In 2010, Colliers International decided to deploy Microsoft® Windows Server® 2008 R2 with Hyper-V™ technology. “It did not take us long to arrive at a decision,” says Lau. “The Microsoft solution was attractive from a total cost of ownership perspective. More important, compatibility was an important factor and most of our other IT assets are based on the Microsoft platform. One of the reasons we were opting for a virtualization solution was to reduce the pressure on IT team resources. We were concerned that an environment based on a mixture of vendors would lead to integration issues. We decided a platform based on one reputable vendor was a smarter approach in the long run.”
|Joe Lau, Director, Information & Technology (Asia), |
Colliers International Hong Kong Limited
Colliers International began to deploy the system to 1200 users in Asia in July 2010. It now has Active Directory, Blackberry Enterprise Server, System Center Operations Manager 2007 R2 and Web servers deployed in the Hyper-V environment, with SharePoint 2010 running on the front end.
Windows Server 2008 R2 has helped Colliers International’s Asia operation meet the IT management and hardware challenges it faced.
35% reduction in operating costs; Windows Server 2008 R2 with Hyper-V has enabled Colliers International to make an almost 30% decrease in its hardware footprint in the Hong Kong hub office. As a result, the company has cut associated power consumption and increased available space, which has resulted in a 35% reduction in operating costs. Lau predicts a return on investment within 1 to 2 years. “A more important consequence of reducing hardware assets is the amount of time it has given our IT team to focus on strategic projects,” he says. “With more preparation time we are able to ensure better rollout experiences as we pursue our long-term IT plans.”
20% reduction in IT management costs; The Microsoft solution’s IT management features have also helped Colliers International reduce its Asia IT team’s administration and maintenance costs by 20%. Integration with Operation Manager 2007 R2 and Microsoft System Center Data Protection Manager (DPM) simplifies monitoring processes and centralizes backup management. “The virtual servers can be switched around and backup is much easier with DPM,” says Lau. “In fact, integration with Operations Manager  and DPM was a key factor in our decision to deploy Windows Server 2008 R2 and Hyper-V.” The company was also impressed by the remote desktop service feature, which allows the IT team to solve user problems from any locations.
Stable platform for future expansion; “The virtual server is running very smoothly in Hyper-V,” says Lau. “There have been very few server crashes and even when there are, recovery is very rapid. End users can get back to work quickly.” Disaster recovery is also easier for administrators, who can restore any virtual server with DPM. “The stability and simplified procedures of this platform also make the ideal testing environment for future deployments, which will make it easier for us to realize our IT roadmap.”
“Overall, our experience with [Windows Server 2008 R2] Hyper-V has been great,” says Lau. “It has reduced our operating costs by 35%, IT management costs by 20%, and it has provided us with the stability and scalability to realize our plans to enable business with IT.”
Colliers International is now considering HA mode integration and will continue to ramp up its communications and customer relations capabilities with upcoming deployments of Microsoft Lync™ 2010 and Microsoft Dynamics CRM.
Windows Server 2008 R2
Windows Server 2008 R2 with Service Pack 1 provides the latest virtualization technology that enables you to achieve increased IT efficiency, agility and cost saving. Whether you want to consolidate servers, build a private cloud or offer Virtual Desktop Infrastructure, its powerful virtualization features will take your datacenter and desktop virtualization strategy to new levels. Higher levels of virtualization require a comprehensive integrated management system. Microsoft System Center provides a suite of tools to manage physical and virtual IT resources for a dynamic infrastructure. For more information, please visit: www.microsoft.com/windowsserver2008/
For More Information
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