4-page Case Study - Posted 5/14/2013
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Firm Supports Remote Creative Operations with Dynamic Network Management Tools
The Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) was established by architects Rem Koolhaas and Elia Zenghelis in 1975. The firm has offices in New York, Beijing, Rotterdam, and Hong Kong, and is working on client projects in 45 countries. OMA
relies on IT partner Asapnet Network Solutions to protect its valuable data and deliver applications to its 325 employees based around the world. Microsoft Partner Asapnet Network Solutions recently decided to upgrade the firm’s server operating system to
take advantage of Windows Server 2012 Datacenter and tools for management and virtualisation. Together with Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager and the Virtual Machine Manager component of Microsoft System Center 2012, the technology supports a three-person
IT team to provide staff with seamless access to applications.
During the global economic recession, many businesses in the architectural industry have suffered due to a reduction in investment in building projects. But the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA), based in Rotterdam in the Netherlands, has gone from
strength to strength. Founded in 1975, the high-profile firm has increased its portfolio to include not just cutting-edge building designs, but also projects for creative industries.
Victor van der Chijs, Managing Director, Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA), says: “Our portfolio is varied. For example, we create the catwalks for Prada fashion shows and at the same time organise exhibitions and studies on sustainability. Our
goal is to be the best creative firm in the world, so we’re focusing on opening opportunities across Europe, the Americas, and Asia.”
The firm’s growth, particularly during the recession, is proof of how successful the OMA approach is. Setting up offices and delivering client projects in different time zones provides OMA with its biggest non-creative challenge. Van der Chijs says: “Many
people have the romantic idea that architects are still working with pencils and drawings, but that’s not the case. Our staff are completely dependent on IT, so the performance and resilience of our systems is crucial. They’re on 24 hours a day, seven days
a week because our staff in all our offices need to access their applications to create and deliver work.”
As the firm’s portfolio expands, so do its IT requirements. Van der Chijs says: “Our data is extremely valuable. The OMA brand rests on the quality of the work we produce, so it’s critical we protect the integrity of our data—from projects stored in our
archives to the latest conceptual drawings.” OMA wanted to upgrade its network to increase scalability and manageability, ensuring that its systems are well-prepared for continued growth and run cost-efficiently.
OMA has relied on Asapnet Network Solutions to manage its IT for eight years. The Microsoft Partner has dedicated a three-person team to be responsible for the delivery of mission-critical applications to OMA staff in 45 countries. As part of its strategic
service delivery for OMA, it decided to upgrade the firm’s server environment to Windows Server 2012 Datacenter, with Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager and the Virtual Machine Manager component of Microsoft System Center 2012.
To manage the company’s data requirements, Asapnet Network Solutions uses HP storage solutions. The Microsoft–HP Frontline Partnership ensures that OMA has a complete solution, with robust HP storage supported by Windows Server 2012 Datacenter and System
Center management tools.
Hiddo de Vreeze, Systems Integrator, Asapnet Network Solutions, says: “When we started working with OMA, the firm had just 87 staff, mainly in Europe. Now, there are 325 employees across 45 countries, but we still manage the network efficiently with just
three people. We can do this because Microsoft System Center tools—such as Configuration Manager and Virtual Machine Manager—remotely configure and manage servers and desktop applications. With Configuration Manager, we can literally click a button in Rotterdam
to install a computer in Hong Kong.”
Asapnet Network Solutions uses Configuration Manager to evaluate application dependencies, device type, and network connections in different countries. The tool helps the team optimise the user experience to suit the device and bandwidth available. “We also
run applications with System Center Configuration Manager, and use it to help our customers. All software installations and updates—from Adobe and Rhino to the Microsoft Office Outlook messaging and collaboration client—are handled with Configuration Manager,”
says de Vreeze.
“Configuration Manager provides us with visibility into the status of the entire network—from licensing for Microsoft through to the hardware configuration on each computer,” he says.
By deploying Windows Server 2012 Datacenter, de Vreeze aims to streamline the network and increase his team’s productivity. He says: “We’re planning to use all the technologies available within Windows Server 2012 Datacenter to automate as much as possible,
which will help us keep costs down, but also increase uptime and efficiency.”
Hyper-V virtualisation technology is included within Windows Server 2012 Datacenter licensing, and de Vreeze’s team has so far used Hyper-V to virtualise 50 machines. These virtualised servers run crucial applications such as the OMA enterprise resource
planning solution, SQL Server, and Microsoft SharePoint applications. Virtual Machine Manager helps the team configure and manage virtualised host machines, and the network and HP storage resources in its private cloud environment.
With Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager and Virtual Machine Manager, Asapnet Network Solutions can manage applications and network performance cost-effectively, ensuring that creative staff can focus on projects and collaborate effectively with
local clients. In keeping with the firm’s environmental ethos, the virtualised private cloud network uses less power, reducing carbon emissions and saving the company around 60 per cent of its annual power overheads. A robust disaster recovery strategy protects
the company’s intellectual property.
Cost-effective, virtualised data centre supports global operations
Previously, OMA used 25 physical servers to manage Microsoft SharePoint, Microsoft Exchange Server, and other applications. “With Windows Server 2012 Datacenter licensing, we can virtualise as many machines as we need to using Hyper-V. We don’t have to purchase
further virtualisation licences. We’re using six Hyper-V servers to run nearly 50 virtual servers—this means we avoid the cost of 40 virtual licences,” says de Vreeze.
Van der Chijs says: “With the consolidated HP and Microsoft server and storage environment, OMA uses 60 per cent less power to run the data centre, which reduces overheads and complements our green data-centre credentials.”
Small team manages global IT support with highly automated network management tool
Asapnet Network Solutions is remotely managing the IT requirements for all OMA offices. The three-person IT team works around the clock, with one person managing each shift and ensuring that all offices are supported 24 hours a day, seven days a week. De
Vreeze says: “With Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager, we have the tools to provide global support from our desks in Rotterdam. Without it, we’d need to deploy support at every site worldwide. We’d also need to deploy more people onsite in Rotterdam
just to manage servers.“ Before the deployment, Asapnet Network Solutions conducted installations remotely, but System Center has greatly enhanced manageability. “We’ll keep automating as many of our network management tasks as possible so that we’re constantly
improving service in the most resource-efficient way,” says de Vreeze.
Rapid expansion is supported by scalable data centre and solid partnership
In the last seven years, OMA has significantly increased the number of staff it employs worldwide. The company’s infrastructure needs are constantly expanding, so it’s important that the technology it deploys is reliable, flexible, and efficient. Van der
Chijs says: “Our goal is to be the best creative architect firm in the world. To achieve this we must be supported by technology that doesn’t fail us. What’s great about the Microsoft–HP Frontline Partnership is that we know all the Microsoft software is tested
on HP hardware. Each time we upgrade either Microsoft or HP technology, we don’t have to worry about how it works together. We’re confident in the combination.”
Remote optimisation tools support local collaboration
OMA is heavily dependent on the local organisations it works with in different countries. Van der Chijs says: “Although we’re a global player we’re also a small company. We always collaborate with local firms—for example, local architects and engineering
firms—and we often have to adapt our IT to work with certain standards of software.” It’s essential that OMA has the flexibility to accommodate its local partners. “With Configuration Manager, the Asapnet Network Solutions team can optimise the performance
of local applications and resolve potential format conflicts,” says Van der Chijs.
De Vreeze says: “We have a smooth operation that supports users well. For example, our file servers are virtualised with Hyper-V and we have 32 nodes of HP LeftHand storage in our Rotterdam data centre. This combination, along with using Configuration Manager
to optimise the Wi-Fi download speeds, means that our users can access large Adobe files of drawings very quickly.”
Robust data recovery solution protects mission-critical data
To maintain its success, OMA needs to work efficiently, combining high standards of creativity and professionalism. Van der Chijs says: “If our systems weren’t reliable, we’d ruin our reputation and suffer financial loss.” The company’s business continuity
plan ensures that all data stored in the cloud can be accessed as needed at any office in the world. Data is continuously replicated via the virtualised HP storage solution and managed with Virtual Machine Manager. De Vreeze says: “Prior to this deployment,
our biggest limitation was guaranteeing uptime. With our virtualised HP storage environment, and tools such as data deduplication in Windows Server 2012, we’re confident in our ability to guarantee a service-level agreement of less than 0.1 per cent downtime.
When there was a power failure at our primary data-centre site recently, our secondary site was operational in less than 10 minutes, with no loss of data.”
Windows Server 2012
Windows Server drives many of the world’s largest data centers, empowers small businesses around the world, and delivers value to organizations of all sizes in between. Building on this legacy, Windows Server 2012 redefines the category, delivering hundreds
of new features and enhancements that span virtualization, networking, storage, user experience, cloud computing, automation, and more. Simply put, Windows Server 2012 helps you transform your IT operations to reduce costs and deliver a whole new level of
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