Data Center Services Provider Boosts Service Levels with Monitoring Software

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1 Microsoft Server Product Portfolio Customer Solution Case Study Data Center Services Provider Boosts Service Levels with Monitoring Software Overview Country or Region: United States Industry: Professional services Customer Profile Shelton, Connecticut based Cervalis provides managed hosting, business continuity, and other IT services from its two New York City area data centers. The company has 80 employees. Business Situation Cervalis had acquired a number of specialized monitoring solutions that became expensive and complex to maintain. The company wanted to more efficiently service its managed clients and raise its level of service to clients. Solution Cervalis deployed Microsoft System Center Operations Manager 2007 to provide single-console management of more than 500 devices and applications across two data centers. System Center Operations Manager is an integral part of our managed services solutions. Its in-depth analytics and single management console enable us to offer a new level of managed services. Robert Carlson, Vice President of Solution Design and Delivery, Cervalis Cervalis is a New York City area IT infrastructure services company that aims to provide a superior level of IT management services to its clients. To that aim, Cervalis is replacing the application-specific monitoring solutions in its data centers with Microsoft System Center Operations Manager 2007, a unified, end-to-end service management solution usable for both Microsoft and non-microsoft environments. With the knowledge gained through its rich reporting capabilities, Cervalis has been able to expand its services and provide integrated monitoring services across multiple platforms. Staff members are working more efficiently, annual audits have been streamlined, and customers are receiving more detailed information about their technology. Benefits Expanded data center services Increased staff productivity Improved reporting, compliance Increased integration going forward

2 We needed a monitoring solution that would allow us to immediately offer new services and also grow with us. Robert Carlson, Vice President of Solution Design and Delivery, Cervalis Situation Cervalis is a premier provider of IT infrastructure solutions including business continuity, managed hosting, managed security, networking and telecommunications, and co-location services. The Shelton, Connecticut based company employs 80 professionals between its two data center locations: Stamford, Connecticut, and Wappingers Falls, New York, both within a 65- mile radius of New York City. Originally, the company had used CA Unicenter for system monitoring, but this solution required many people to support, was expensive, and imposed a heavy overhead burden on the systems it monitored. When the company was trimming expenses after the dot-com downturn, Cervalis dropped Unicenter in favor of a number of open source and less expensive commercial monitoring solutions: Linuxbased Big Brother, WhatsUp Gold, WhatsUp Professional, SolarWinds, and other point solutions designed for specific workloads. Cervalis deployed these point solutions in redundant fashion so that no one tool failure would cause a loss of visibility into customer environments. While critical for reliability, this strategy also increased the number of false positives and other noise. Also, as its collection of point solutions grew, Cervalis watched costs creep upward again. It took a lot of resources to use this collection of solutions in our data centers, says Michael King, Manager of Managed Services for Cervalis. Every time a customer needed a new application, we might have to get a new point tool to monitor it. Every new tool required people to manage it. Because there was no central management console for its variety of monitoring tools, engineers customized the Microsoft Outlook messaging and collaboration client for use as a central collection point for system monitoring issues. But tracing and resolving problems took a great deal of manual effort; it was time consuming correlating events to determine the root cause of a problem. Engineers were required to inspect individual systems separately, which involved many hours and relied on the expertise of many specialized individuals. Cervalis soon realized that its ability to offer extended services to a growing customer base was limited by the capabilities of its monitoring tools. More detailed monitoring data would enable Cervalis to offer highervalue services to far more customers. We needed a monitoring solution that would allow us to immediately offer new services and also grow with us, says Robert Carlson, Vice President of Solution Design and Delivery for Cervalis. Solution Cervalis decided that it was time to abandon multiple point solutions and return to a single, integrated monitoring approach but with a tool that was more cost effective and offered richer capabilities than previous approaches. In addition, Cervalis needed its solution to manage applications running in Windows, Linux, Sun Solaris, and other operating system environments. The company also wanted to use its new consolidated management solution to manage storage area networks (SANs), network switches, power and cooling equipment, backup devices and software, and other data center elements. We wanted a multifunction tool that provided more than just basic system statistics disk, CPU, and memory usage and similar figures, says Dennis Milholm, Senior Systems Administrator for Cervalis. We wanted application- and cluster-level information, as well. We wanted detailed

3 Using System Center Operations Manager, we can zero in on the problem and the resources needed right away. We can also identify problems sooner. Michael King, Manager of Managed Services, Cervalis information on our [Microsoft] SQL Server and [Microsoft] Exchange Server systems how long stored procedures had been running, how applications were performing, detailed mail logs, and more. Cervalis evaluated a range of products but they all felt reactionary, Milholm says. After a thorough evaluation process, Cervalis selected and deployed Microsoft System Center Operations Manager 2007, an end-toend service monitoring solution for Windows and non-windows operating system environments. System Center Operations Manager provides a single, easy-to-use monitoring console for overseeing thousands of server and client computers and applications, and provides a comprehensive view of data center health. Microsoft Services helped with the deployment and also brought in Microsoft infrastructure expert Intrinsic Technologies, a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner from Lisle, Illinois. A single Intrinsic Technologies consultant oversaw the System Center Operations Manager deployment at Cervalis. Our Microsoft Partner consultant was instrumental to our rollout, King says. He was an absolute expert on System Center Operations Manager and handled every issue that came up. To provide a highly reliable, fault-redundant architecture, Cervalis runs System Center Operations Manager on eight HP ProLiant DL380 G5 server computers configured as follows: Two redundant clustered servers run System Center Operations Manager and an associated database. Two redundant clustered servers run SQL Server 2005 reporting and a data warehouse. One management server runs System Center Operations Manager to handle communication between host agents. One non-windows management server handles communication between non- Windows host agents. Two redundant Active Directory Domain Services servers manage authentication services. Many servers are connected to a 3PAR SAN containing 40 terabytes of data Cervalis uses the single, central console of System Center Operations Manager to monitor more than 500 devices and associated software, including 350 Windows-, Linux-, and Solaris-based server computers ; three different customer SANs; a fibre channel network; Cisco networking equipment; power and cooling systems; backup and replication software; tape backup devices; IP phone systems; and environmental probes. Instead of logging on to every single server to see how it s operating, we get a one-glance view of all systems, King says. Cervalis also uses Microsoft and third-party operations management packs to extend System Center Operations Manager capabilities to operating systems, applications, and other technology components. Management packs contain best-practice knowledge used to discover, monitor, troubleshoot, report on, and resolve problems for specific technologies. The SQL Server management pack tells us if any operating parameters have been violated, so we can go back to customers with recommendations, Milholm says. That s key to us, because it s always easier to maintain than to recover. We re able to be less reactive and more proactive. Cervalis is also better able to cut through a glut of system alerts that were previously time consuming and expert-dependent to sort

4 We spend less time tracing problems and more time fixing them. As we grow, that efficiency becomes more crucial. Robert Carlson, Vice President of Solution Design and Delivery, Cervalis out and resolve. For example, when a customer runs up against an issue such as a memory shortage, there used to be an overwhelming number of alerts that created a lot of noise that would obscure root causes. With System Center Operations Manager, incoming alerts are clearly identified and prioritized, which helps Cervalis respond faster and implement tighter operational discipline. Benefits Since making Microsoft System Center Operations Manager 2007 its single, centralized data center monitoring solution, Cervalis has been able to offer new services, increase data center staff productivity, and provide customers with richer reports about their applications. Cervalis plans to adopt a wider System Center solution so it can offer even more sophisticated services. customers by giving them more detailed information. Increased Staff Productivity The use of System Center Operations Manager has also enabled Cervalis to free valuable operational resources in its data centers to focus on more critical issues. As we grow, our business won t be as laborintensive, King says. Using System Center Operations Manager, we can zero in on the problem and the resources needed right away. We can also identify problems sooner. Carlson estimates that the use of System Center Operations Manager has given the company s operations engineers up to 20 percent more time each day to focus on more important work. We spend less time tracing problems and more time fixing them, he says. As we grow, that efficiency becomes more crucial. Expanded Data Center Services and Higher Service Levels With a richer, more detailed monitoring solution, Cervalis can offer additional services to current and future customers. Being able to offer more services is critical to our future growth, Carlson says. System Center Operations Manager is an integral part of our managed services solution. Its in-depth analytics, ability to correlate issues, and single management console are core components that enable us to offer a new level of managed services. For example, Cervalis can use System Center Operations Manager and management packs to look inside customers applications and see how they re responding and operating. There s a big difference between calling a customer and saying Your application is not responding and saying, This portion of the application is not responding because of a CPU bottleneck or insufficient memory, King says. We can be much more helpful to our Improved Reporting, Compliance Cervalis is able to provide customers with better, more informative reports on their applications. System Center Operations Manager provides detailed application-health and availability information, which helps our client identify application issues and be more productive, Milholm says. Cervalis will also use System Center Operations Manager to manage its various certifications (Microsoft, Cisco, TruSecure, and SAS 70 Type-II), for which it is audited several times a year. We can now quickly create reports that clearly define what we re monitoring for our customers, that will dramatically reduce the time we spend on satisfying audits, King says. We ll also be able to help customers with their regulatory compliance issues, such as SOX [Sarbanes- Oxley Act of 2002] and HIPAA [Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act]. We can instantly provide them with documentation for our update procedures,

5 For More Information For more information about Microsoft products and services, call the Microsoft Sales Information Center at (800) In Canada, call the Microsoft Canada Information Centre at (877) Customers who are deaf or hard-ofhearing can reach Microsoft text telephone (TTY/TDD) services at (800) in the United States or (905) in Canada. Outside the 50 United States and Canada, please contact your local Microsoft subsidiary. To access information using the World Wide Web, go to: For more information about Intrinsic Technologies products and services, call (630) or visit the Web site at: authentication measures, and other technology issues that they need to monitor. Increased Integration Going Forward Cervalis is sold on the value of gaining efficiencies through software integration and is moving to deploy additional Microsoft System Center and Microsoft server software. Putting core monitoring in place was our first step, because it enabled us to offer new services to our customers, Carlson says. But we are only at the beginning of our Microsoft integration plans. We want to focus on one suite of products from one vendor, and we really like Microsoft s holistic System Center vision for the data center. Microsoft Server Product Portfolio For more information about the Microsoft server product portfolio, go to: Microsoft System Center Microsoft System Center is a family of leading IT management solutions that helps you proactively plan, deploy, manage, and optimize your IT environment. For more information about System Center solutions, go to: For more information about Cervalis products and services, call (203) or visit the Web site at: Software and Services Microsoft System Center - Microsoft System Center Operations Manager 2007 Microsoft Server Product Portfolio - Windows Server Microsoft Exchange Server Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Services - Microsoft Services Hardware Eight HP ProLiant DL380 G5 servers 3Par storage area network Partner Intrinsic Technologies This case study is for informational purposes only. MICROSOFT MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, IN THIS SUMMARY. Document published April 2008

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