Allgemeine Unfallversicherungsanstalt (AUVA) is Austria’s largest social security and emergency hospital insurance provider. The organisation’s central computing facility supports a number of sites, including emergency hospitals. AUVA wanted to consolidate its hardware infrastructure and maximise the availability of critical applications. In collaboration with Microsoft Services, AUVA replaced up to eight physical servers at each site with clustered pairs of HP ProLiant DL360 G6 servers running the Windows Server 2008 R2 Datacenter operating system and Hyper-V technology. By doing so, AUVA reduced its hardware infrastructure from 60 to 14 servers, resulting in energy savings and lower administration costs. In addition, the virtualised Microsoft solutions have no single point of failure, ensuring permanent availability of key patient applications.
To offer the best healthcare possible, Allgemeine Unfallversicherungsanstalt (AUVA), based in Austria, must ensure that critical medical applications are available to doctors and nursing staff 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The organisation—which insures more than 3.2 million employees and 1.3 million students—treats around 350,000 accident victims in its emergency hospitals and rehabilitation centres across Austria.
||“With Live Migration, we can migrate virtual applications running in real time from one physical server to another, without any downtime for end users.”
Head of IT, AUVA
AUVA decided to remove its existing decentralised IT infrastructure and modernise its centralised hardware and software systems. It wanted to consolidate its hardware infrastructure and increase the performance of critical applications, such as X-ray subsystems. Wolfgang Haumann, Head of IT at AUVA, says: “We wanted to have hardware clusters without single points of failure. We also wanted to virtualise our environment to improve manageability, scalability, and performance.”
AUVA also wanted to consolidate the hardware environment to reduce energy consumption and operating costs. “In our seven sites, we were running about 60 servers,” says Haumann. “We knew that we could significantly lower this number with the latest virtualisation technologies, and make substantial energy savings.”
To achieve its goals, AUVA deployed new hardware and software at the main site in Vienna. The organisation worked closely with Microsoft Services, and Thomas Bauer, Senior Consultant at Microsoft Austria, oversaw the delivery of the new infrastructure. It consisted of two clustered HP ProLiant DL360 G6 servers with the Windows Server 2008 R2 Datacenter operating system and Hyper-V technology. Haumann says: “The design, using Windows Deployment Services, provided us with a model we could use in the other four emergency hospitals and two rehabilitation centres.”
With the help of intuitive Hyper-V tools, Haumann and his team configured up to eight virtual servers to support the critical medical applications at each hospital. With a single image for all virtualised services, AUVA can set up new virtual machines in just a few minutes and distribute them to remote hospital clusters using a wide area network.
Microsoft Live Migration and Cluster Shared Volumes ensure the virtualised environment delivers maximum availability. Thomas Marhanek, IT Analyst at AUVA, says: “With Live Migration, we can migrate virtual applications running in real time from one physical server to another, without any downtime for end users. That way, X-ray subsystems and other critical applications are constantly available to doctors, nurses, and patients—even if the hardware breaks down.”
To improve control of the distributed IT environment and reduce the volume of administration, AUVA installed Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008. This solution provides a central view of all physical and virtual servers in the network and helps Marhanek identify and avoid possible performance issues, before they affect patient services. System Center Virtual Machine Manager also helps AUVA allocate virtual servers to physical machines to maximise capacity and cut future hardware requirements.
Marhanek says: “With System Center Virtual Machine Manager, we have a clear real-time picture of our physical and virtual servers across all seven sites. Another advantage is that systems administrators can view, monitor, and restart their own virtual servers locally, reducing the IT team’s workload.”
With Hyper-V, AUVA has achieved 100 per cent availability for critical applications and improved the experience for medical staff and patients. The institution has significantly cut energy consumption by consolidating the number of servers from 60 to 14, and reduced the workload on IT personnel by centralising operations, management, and administration. Haumann says: “We now have the high availability, clustered virtual server environment we wanted. Since the system went live, availability has been 100 per cent, which means we can offer staff and patients better services.”
||“Our Hyper-V clusters have no single point of failure and we can distribute the workload dynamically across virtual and physical servers to ensure the availability of critical services.”
IT Analyst, AUVA
Greater Availability for Mission-Critical Applications
The Microsoft environment ensures maximum availability of critical medical applications. Haumann says: “Our Hyper-V clusters have no single point of failure and we can distribute the workload dynamically across virtual and physical servers to ensure the availability of critical services.”
Less Hardware and Lower Energy Consumption
As a result of adopting Hyper-V and clustering the HP servers, AUVA has reduced its hardware infrastructure from 60 to 14 physical servers. Haumann says: “We’ve achieved significant savings on server maintenance because we have centralised management tools and reduced the number of servers. In addition, energy consumption is down by about two-thirds, lowering operating costs and reducing carbon emissions.”
AUVA can scale the distributed environment more easily with virtual servers, which means that in future it won’t need to buy and install as much hardware. Haumann says: “By consolidating our hardware environment, we’ve achieved impressive savings. On top of that, we’re now able to meet increasing demands for processor performance without additional costs, which helps us achieve effective and sustainable savings.”
Scalability in Minutes Instead of Weeks
Expanding the IT infrastructure in a hospital used to involve installing new servers. “Identifying and procuring suitable hardware, installing it at sites and then finding the right drivers could take up to eight weeks,” says Marhanek. “Now I can construct a virtual server on the basis of a standard image and allocate it to a hospital through the network. The whole procedure takes only a few minutes.”
Enhanced Application Performance for End Users
The HP hardware with Windows Server 2008 R2 Datacenter and Hyper-V has significantly increased application performance. “Our new hardware appliances offer higher processor power and are much more efficient,” says Marhanek. “Hyper-V plays an important role in improving the experience for end users, adding processor power and memory where they’re most needed.”
Cost-Efficient Licensing Agreement
The cost of expanding the virtual server environment with Windows Server 2008 R2 Datacenter and Hyper-V was significantly lower than other options the organisation considered. “We can make full use of the existing corporate licence agreement and alter the Microsoft environment when we need to, without additional licensing costs,” says Haumann.
Success Through Microsoft Partnership
Microsoft has worked closely with AUVA to ensure the success of the organisation-wide technology upgrade. Bauer says: “We’ve met all the requirements that AUVA had, achieving high availability, lower costs, and scalability through virtualisation.” Haumann adds that Microsoft is still supporting IT development. He says: “Because we have access to dedicated Microsoft consultants and a Technical Account Manager, help is available to us at any time so we can optimise our IT environment. Microsoft keeps us informed about the benefits of new technologies and ensures that our IT infrastructure corresponds to our demands at all times.”
Microsoft virtualization is an end-to-end strategy that can profoundly affect nearly every aspect of the IT infrastructure management lifecycle. It can drive greater efficiencies, flexibility, and cost effectiveness throughout your organization. From accelerating application deployments; to ensuring systems, applications, and data are always available; to taking the hassle out of rebuilding and shutting down servers and desktops for testing and development; to reducing risk, slashing costs, and improving the agility of your entire environment—virtualization has the power to transform your infrastructure, from the data center to the desktop.
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