news A major Australian engineering services company has revealed it recently picked Microsoft’s Hyper-V virtualisation solution over VMWare’s dominant solution as part of a consolidation of its server and datacentre infrastructure.
The Norfolk Group provides electrical, communication and engineering services in Australia and New Zealand, with a customer base of around 19,500, 3,300 staff (plus sub-contractors) and operations across more than 120 sites in the two countries and Asia, making it one of the largest such companies to operate locally.
In a statement issued by Microsoft this week and an associated case study, the company revealed that it recently picked a combination of Microsoft Hyper-V running on Windows Server 2008 and Microsoft System Center to consolidate its datacentre infrastructure.
Microsoft’s case study states that Norfolk was previously running on “ageing” server infrastructure with “six-year-old” technology that was resulting in increased operational and management costs. The company’s warranty costs were growing as time went on, and it also had “no remote management capability”.
“We’d been using the same servers since 2006,” said Norfolk ICT Solutions Architect Andrew Upson, “and every year we’d just plus-one the licences and warranties. It was starting to get very expensive. We needed more and more capacity. Demand was increasing, but our ability to meet it was actually decreasing. The technology wasn’t keeping up with our business or customer requirements. The other challenge was remote access. We didn’t have it, so any change to our configuration meant we had to go through the data centre. Those server management costs were really adding up.”
The solution for the group was to implement a combination of Windows Server 2008 R2 with Hyper-V, as well as Microsoft’s System Center, Virtual Machine Manager 2008 R2 and Systems Center Operations Manager 2007 R2 to virtualise and manage the company’s infrastructure. The group also deployed Cisco’s Unified Computing System (UCS) servers.
“We were looking at a VMware solution, but their model wasn’t as attractive cost-wise as Microsoft’s for our circumstances and needs,” said Upson. “And with the money we saved choosing Microsoft, we could afford for Microsoft Consulting Services to work on the deployment.”
With work starting in October 2011, the Hyper-V virtual server solution went live in January 2012, and immediately showed benefits, according to Microsoft. “Now the Hyper-V architecture, managed and monitored by Microsoft System Center, has cut costs, increased efficiency and given Norfolk a much simpler, more flexible and powerful set-up of virtual servers, instead of relying on physical machines,” the vendor said in its case study.
“By consolidating our server racks, we’re saving $10,000 a month on leasing costs alone, which has completely covered the cost of the implementation,” said Upson. In addition, the virtualisation implementation has driven cost efficiencies with relation to power as well. “The reduction in power costs could be as great as $5,000 per month,” the IT architect said. Money has also been saved on access to datacentre space for fixes — with most of the changes now able to be done remotely.
The news of Norfolk’s deployment comes as Hyper-V continues to make inroads into a server virtualisation market in Australia which remains dominated by industry giant VMware.
Clothing and homewares manufacturer Pacific Brands revealed in May that it had switched out VMware for Hyper-V in its datacentre as it sought to take more advantage of virtualisation in its operations, and in March retail giant Coles revealed it had implemented a virtualisation solution built on Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 Enterprise with Hyper-V in each of its 741 supermarkets, to tackle an aging, in-store fleet of server hardware. The NSW Department of Education and Training has also deployed servers with Hyper-V to schools throughout the state.
Yet again we see a deployment which is rapidly becoming the IT industry’s most popular combination — Cisco’s UCS servers, running Windows Server with various other Microsoft pieces on top. Nobody ever got fired for buying IBM, the saying has gone over the decades — but I’d argue that the same currently applies to Microsoft and Cisco.
At this point, with its gargantuan market share, VMware obviously doesn’t need to trumpet its successes to the world as Microsoft does in the virtualisation market. Right now, it’s probably easier to ask yourself who’s not using VMware, rather than who is, given the fact that even companies which profess a love for Microsoft’s Hyper-V are still also using VMware in some shape or form elsewhere in their operations. The two often seem to work in tandem — VMware at the datacentre core, and Hyper-V on the edge, in satellite deployments — for example, in retail outlets or schools.
However, one would have to imagine that Microsoft’s constant nipping at VMware’s heels with Hyper-V is starting to get a little annoying. The reality out there is that many IT professionals across Australia are including Hyper-V amongst their options and comparing it against VMware. This competition is only a good thing for end users, but it signals the beginning of the end for VMware’s absolute dominance in this space. When it comes to the enterprise, what Microsoft wants, Microsoft usually gets.