Accounting Firm Cuts Licensing Costs 40 Percent with Switch to Hyper-V

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1 Microsoft Infrastructure Optimization Customer Solution Case Study Accounting Firm Cuts Licensing Costs 40 Percent with Switch to Hyper-V Overview Country or Region: United States Industry: Professional services Financial Customer Profile Baker Tilly is a full-service accounting and advisory firm with offices throughout the midwestern and eastern United States. The Chicago, Illinois based firm employs more than 1,350 people. Business Situation Facing a tight economy, Baker Tilly wanted to trim operational costs including high VMware licensing fees while still delivering new IT services to make its accounting practitioners more productive. Solution Baker Tilly is migrating its VMware workloads to Windows Server 2008 R2 Datacenter with Hyper-V and using Microsoft System Center data center solutions to monitor and manage its IT environment. Benefits 40 percent reduction in licensing fees Higher IT productivity Improved application performance Increased availability Greater business agility We have a moratorium on IT changes from January 15 to April 15 tax season and our busy time. But we transitioned 80 percent of our VMware workloads to Hyper-V during this period without a hiccup. Baker Tilly customers look to the accounting firm for guidance in following good financial practices. A tight economy occasioned Baker Tilly to become especially thrifty in its own operations. When management stiffened at high VMware licensing renewal fees, the company switched to the Windows Server 2008 R2 Datacenter with Hyper-V technology. Working with CDW, a Microsoft Partner, Baker Tilly also installed Microsoft System Center data center solutions. With the switch, and by using Microsoft System Center Server Management Suite licensing, Baker Tilly trimmed its virtualization licensing fees by 40 percent while adding management extras. The IT staff now has more time to develop new services, and has seen higher performance and availability with Hyper-V. Baker Tilly has a more flexible infrastructure that enables it to roll out new services without hitting licensing or technology roadblocks.

2 In addition to the strong functionality of the Microsoft virtualization solution, we really liked the cost model of the Hyper-V and System Center combination. Situation Baker Tilly Virchow Krause (Baker Tilly) is a full-service accounting and advisory firm with offices throughout the midwestern and eastern United States. As an independent member of Baker Tilly International, the world's eighth largest network of accounting firms, Baker Tilly gives customers access to audit, tax, and management expertise in more than 114 countries. As the global recession that began in 2007 stretched into 2009, Baker Tilly advised customers to embrace cost-cutting efficiencies like never before and did the same itself. Doing more with less is a cliché, but in this economy, it s incredibly necessary, says Matt Jennings, Senior Manager in Information Technology at Baker Tilly. Since the economy has dropped off, we have to be hyper-efficient, with no staff growth and flat or declining budgets. But we still need to make our practitioners more efficient, using what we already own. In 2007, Baker Tilly had licensed VMware virtualization software to experiment with virtualization as a way to increase server efficiency and curb server growth. While the company successfully virtualized many business application and development servers, Baker Tilly was hesitant to virtualize its largest and most mission-critical workloads such as Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 and databases running Microsoft SQL Server 2008 data management software. The company was also less than happy with the cost of VMware and the difficulty of supporting the product. When it was time to renew our VMware license, we were informed by VMware that we had to get everything current, which meant forking over a bunch of money, Jennings says. That did not sit well with management. Solution Jennings had been following the maturation of the Windows Server 2008 operating system and became especially interested when Microsoft released Windows Server 2008 R2. Of particular interest to Jennings were the highavailability features in that release. Live migration enables IT staffs to dynamically move virtual machines between host servers without interrupting workloads, and cluster shared volumes support in Windows Server Hyper-V technology simplifies the configuration and management of clustered virtual machines. Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008 R2 provided management support for those features. In addition to the strong functionality of the Microsoft virtualization solution, we really liked the cost model of the Hyper-V and System Center combination, Jennings says. With our Microsoft Enterprise Client Access License Suite, we were already paying for the operating system licensing. By adding the Microsoft System Center Server Management Suite Datacenter license, we could add the four main System Center products at a very affordable price. We justified the purchase in about five minutes. In addition to enterprise server licenses for the four System Center products, the System Center Server Management Suite Datacenter (SMSD) provides rights to manage an unlimited number of operating system environments on a single physical server. Migration from VMware Jennings called in CDW, a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner and longtime technology advisor to Baker Tilly, and asked for help in plotting out the transition from VMware to Hyper-V and implementing the System Center data center solutions.

3 We now have more time to develop new application functionality and services that benefit our accountants. Plus, we save the firm money by not having to outsource those projects. In January 2010, Baker Tilly purchased five new host computers and deployed Windows Server 2008 R2 Datacenter with Hyper-V. All five are configured as a highavailability cluster. Normally, we have a moratorium on IT changes from January 15 to April 15 tax season and our busy time, says Jennings. But we transitioned 80 percent of our VMware workloads to Hyper-V during this period without a hiccup. The migration from VMware to Hyper-V has been a nonevent. Baker Tilly plans to be off VMware completely by June Aggressive Virtualization Baker Tilly is aggressively virtualizing workloads, including those that it hesitated to entrust to VMware. On its highavailability cluster, it is running its entire security infrastructure, including its Public Key Infrastructure, Microsoft Forefront Identity Manager, and password generation application. It has also virtualized its Blackberry Enterprise Server and its IT management infrastructure, including System Center programs, hardware management tools, and a Cisco security management application. Next up for virtualization are the company s time-and-billing system, Exchange Server 2007 servers, and SQL Server 2008 based clusters that provide database services to the company s business intelligence and billing systems. Management with System Center Products By licensing Microsoft System Center SMSD, Baker Tilly gained access to several critical management programs, including Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008 R2 and Microsoft System Center Operations Manager 2007 R2. We use System Center Virtual Machine Manager very heavily, Jennings says. Our success with the VMware migration is chiefly due to the tools provided in this program. My staff loves it. Creating new virtual machines is incredibly easy, as is migrating workloads from physical servers or VMware virtual machines. We now have deep visibility into all our workloads. Later this summer, Jennings will link System Center Virtual Machine Manager with System Center Operations Manager and use the Performance and Resource Optimization (PRO) Tips, which will give the IT staff more detailed and real-time insight into virtual-machine performance and health. Once Baker Tilly has all of its workloads under the watchful eye of System Center Operations Manager, the IT staff will have detailed reports about the health of critical applications such as Exchange Server 2007 and proactive alerts if anything drifts out of bounds. Benefits By switching from VMware to Hyper-V, Baker Tilly slashed its virtualization costs by 40 percent and gained new management capabilities at no extra cost. With these new capabilities, the IT staff is far more efficient, yielding more time to develop new services. According to Jennings, application performance is higher on Hyper-V than on VMware, and the infrastructure is rock solid reliable. Baker Tilly now has an infrastructure that is efficient, affordable, and flexible enough to meet the company s needs for years to come. Software Licensing Costs Reduced 40 Percent We have reduced our virtualization licensing costs by 40 percent by moving from VMware to Hyper-V, Jennings says. Plus, with SMSD, we project a total savings of $650 per virtual machine compared to the VMware licensing model. This could add up to around $45,000 over the life of

4 Windows Server 2008 R2 is rock solid and incredibly stable. Normally, you roll out new technology and wait six months to a year before you put it in production. We rolled it out and hit it hard, and it just works. the cluster. Plus, we gained access to System Center Operations Manager and System Center Virtual Machine Manager at no extra charge. Even without these management extras, virtualizing with Hyper-V is half the cost of VMware. Baker Tilly has not seen hardware savings to date but notes that as it virtualizes more applications, it will see hardware, power, and real-estate savings on top of virtualization licensing savings. Higher IT Productivity Now that Jennings and his team have automated monitoring and management tools, they can zero in on dangers to their infrastructure and preemptively address them. While I can t put a hard number on our time savings, our problem resolution is significantly faster and productivity higher because of System Center tools, Jennings says. With no Linux experts on staff, every time we had to troubleshoot a VMware problem, we were down for several hours. Today, my team is much faster at resolving issues. Even more important to Jennings than making quick work of infrastructure chores and problem resolution is gaining productivity on behalf of Baker Tilly accounting practitioners. We now have more time to develop new application functionality and services that benefit our accountants, Jennings says. For example, we can spend more time creating new security initiatives, investigating new cloudbased tax services, and rolling out new technologies to speed everyday tasks and better serve customers. Plus, we save the firm money by not having to outsource those projects. Improved Application Performance Jennings has also observed better application performance on Hyper-V than on VMware. Our workloads tend to be bursty, meaning they sit idle much of the time and then need a lot of performance at once, he says. Typically, when a host server has to spin up and suddenly grab resources, the virtual machines on it can be sluggish. We have not seen this with Hyper-V; our new virtual machines perform exceptionally well, instantly. With such prompt response, employees enjoy better performance from applications that they use every day. Increased Availability Baker Tilly also has higher infrastructure availability with Hyper-V, using the highavailability cluster and live migration. Also, the staff is able to resolve problems faster because of their familiarity with Microsoft infrastructure software. When a host server goes down, our resolution time is much faster because we can solve these problems ourselves, Jennings says. We are no longer dealing with black box technologies like VMware that we don t understand. Apart from its familiarity to the Baker Tilly IT staff, Jennings says that, Windows Server 2008 R2 is rock solid and incredibly stable. Normally, you roll out new technology and wait six months to a year before you put it in production. We rolled it out and hit it hard, and it just works. We feel like we can move off VMware faster than expected, which means we realize cost savings faster. Greater Business Agility With the simplicity and breadth of Microsoft licensing, Baker Tilly also has the agility that it needs. For a price that really makes sense, we have access to all the virtual machines that we need without worrying about how many licenses we ve purchased, Jennings says. Hyper-V gives us the flexibility we need to run the business. We can deploy virtual machines

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 in the United States and Canada who are deaf or hard-of-hearing can reach Microsoft text telephone (TTY/TDD) services at (800) 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 CDW products and services, call (847) or visit the website at: as needed without going back to management and asking for money because we hit a licensing barrier. This gives us more agility and responsiveness to business needs. Microsoft Infrastructure Optimization With infrastructure optimization, you can build a secure, well-managed, and dynamic core IT infrastructure that can reduce overall IT costs, make better use of resources, and become a strategic asset for the business. The Infrastructure Optimization model with basic, standardized, rationalized, and dynamic levels was developed by Microsoft using industry best practices and Microsoft s own experiences with enterprise customers. The Infrastructure Optimization model provides a maturity framework that is flexible and easily used as a benchmark for technical capability and business value. For more information about Microsoft infrastructure optimization, go to: For more information about Baker Tilly products and services, call (800) or visit the website at: Software and Services Microsoft Server Product Portfolio Microsoft System Center Operations Manager 2007 R2 Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008 R2 Windows Server 2008 R2 Datacenter Technologies Hyper-V Hardware Five HP ProLiant DL380 G6 servers with dual-socket, quad-core Intel Xeon processors and 72 gigabytes of RAM Partners CDW This case study is for informational purposes only. MICROSOFT MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, IN THIS SUMMARY. Document published July 2010

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