IT Firm Virtualizes Databases: Trims Servers 85 Percent, Ups Performance 50 Percent

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1 Microsoft Virtualization: Data Center to Desktop Customer Solution Case Study IT Firm Virtualizes Databases: Trims Servers 85 Percent, Ups Performance 50 Percent Overview Country or Region: United States Industry: Professional services IT services Database performance has improved by as much as 50 percent in a virtual environment. Scott Burkland, SQL Server Architect, Avanade Customer Profile Avanade provides Microsoft technology services that help customers realize business results. The Seattle, Washington based firm has more than 9,100 professionals in more than 20 countries worldwide. Business Situation With rapid business growth came data center expansion and server proliferation. Avanade wanted to reduce server sprawl and costs and better utilize hardware. Solution Avanade used the Windows Server 2008 R2 Enterprise operating system with the Hyper-V technology to consolidate 136 physical servers to two 10-node clusters that host a 16-node Microsoft SQL Server 2008 virtual cluster. Benefits Server reduction of 85 percent Data center costs reduced 40 percent Performance improved 50 percent Greater business agility As its business grew rapidly, IT consultancy Avanade watched its data centers fill up with servers, which caused hardware, energy, and management costs to soar. To put a halt to runaway server growth and rising data center costs, Avanade deployed the Windows Server 2008 R2 Enterprise operating system with the Hyper-V virtualization technology. It is virtualizing even its most demanding workloads, including databases running the Microsoft SQL Server 2008 data management software. As a result, Avanade will cut servers by 85 percent, reduce data center costs by 40 percent using Microsoft System Center, and improve database performance by 50 percent. Avanade is also a more agile organization now, with the ability to create virtual machines on demand to serve dynamic business needs.

2 Hyper-V was significantly more costeffective than those VMware licenses we had used for our test and development environment. Andy Schneider, Infrastructure Architect, Avanade Situation Avanade is a global IT consultancy firm dedicated to using Microsoft software to help enterprises achieve profitable growth. A joint venture between Accenture and Microsoft, Avanade was formed to merge the strengths of both companies Accenture consulting and Microsoft technology expertise into a single company. Avanade is based in Seattle, Washington, and has 9,100 professionals working in 20 countries worldwide. From 2005 to 2008, Avanade grew tremendously, more than doubling its business. However, this growth resulted in server sprawl at the company s three data centers located across the world. We were increasing our server capacity by 15 percent, year over year, says Dave Muhich, Operations Architect at Avanade. On average, each server ran at around 18 percent capacity. That s a lot of wasted rack space and a lot of extra electrical costs. The hardware inefficiencies extended to the company s database servers. Avanade had created a six-node database cluster running the Microsoft SQL Server 2005 data management software to provide database support to a wide range of applications. These applications included Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007, several lineof-business (LOB) applications, and infrastructure management applications. We were on a three-year hardware refresh schedule, but we would find ourselves pressed to upgrade the hardware before we were ready to, explains Scott Burkland, SQL Server Architect at Avanade. Our database cluster was also unbalanced in terms of CPU, memory, and disk storage utilization. We had a lot of underutilized hardware. Avanade had used Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 and VMware virtualization software to virtualize some servers in its test and development area, but it ran into performance limitations as it moved toward a 64-bit processor environment. The company wanted a more cost-effective way to run and expand its SQL Server databases than continually adding more hardware. Solution When Microsoft introduced the Windows Server 2008 operating system with the Hyper-V virtualization technology, Avanade saw an opportunity. Hyper-V was significantly more cost-effective than those VMware licenses we had used for our test and development environment, says Andy Schneider, Infrastructure Architect at Avanade. Hyper-V also had more than enough performance, scalability, and reliability for our needs. Avanade designed a series of tests to evaluate the ability of Hyper-V to run demanding workloads such as SQL Server in production environments. In one test, Avanade was impressed to see Hyper-V support 6,000 Microsoft Dynamics CRM users on the SQL Server 2005 cluster. We felt extremely comfortable standing behind our corporate strategy to virtualize our biggest workloads our upgrade to Microsoft SQL Server 2008, Exchange Server 2007 all those applications people were saying just couldn t be done, Schneider says. One 16-Node Virtual SQL Server Cluster Avanade consolidated its six-node SQL Server cluster and four standalone SQL Server instances into one 16-node virtual SQL Server cluster. The 16-node virtual SQL Server cluster contains 10 database instances that support applications such as Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010, and Microsoft

3 storage area network with 50 terabytes of storage. The two Hyper-V clusters also run dozens of virtual application servers: Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007, Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010, Office Communications Server 2007, Microsoft BizTalk Server 2007, Microsoft Visual Studio Team Foundation Server, Microsoft System Center Operations Manager, and multiple Avanade-authored applications. The Avanade-authored applications include a time-entry system; a contact management system; an extract, transform, and load (ETL) system that processes data going into a data warehouse; a learning management system; and a knowledge management repository. Avanade used the Windows Server 2008 R2 Enterprise operating system with the Hyper-V technology to consolidate 136 physical servers to two 10-node clusters that host a 16-node Microsoft SQL Server 2008 virtual cluster. System Center Operations Manager 2007, which are used concurrently by thousands of users around the world. The virtual SQL Server cluster runs on two Hyper-V clusters made up of 10 physical servers. One of these clusters is a highperformance cluster, based on Sun Fire X4170 servers with dual quad-core 64-bit Intel Xeon E5500 (Nehalem) processors, and the other is a standard-performance cluster based on Sun Fire X4170 servers with dual quad-core 64-bit Intel Xeon E5440 processors. All servers use 64 gigabytes (GB) of RAM, and have eight internal drives in a 1U form-factor. Avanade can easily move SQL Server workloads between the two clusters as processing needs demand. Both the Sun host servers and the virtual machines run the Windows Server 2008 R2 Enterprise operating system. Avanade assigns four logical CPUs to each SQL Server 2008 virtual machine. All virtual machines share one NetApp FAS 3040 Cluster Management Avanade deployed Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008 R2 to manage its large cluster environment. Using this system management product, Avanade can quickly perform physical-tovirtual conversions, save virtual machines definitions as templates in a central library, and perform quick migration of virtual machines between servers. Benefits By virtualizing its SQL Server 2008 databases using Windows Server 2008 R2 Enterprise with Hyper-V, Avanade will be able to significantly improve the efficiency of its hardware investment, cut servers by 85 percent, reduce costs by 40 percent, improve database performance, and increase overall business agility. Server Reduction of 85 Percent Using Hyper-V, Avanade anticipates impressive server consolidation. We ve consolidated 136 physical servers to 20, an 85 percent server reduction, Burkland says. We are consolidating our entire data

4 Our data center footprint remains established and static with plenty of room for growth; we can scale out new SQL Server instances without affecting this footprint. Scott Burkland, SQL Server Architect, Avanade center on this one 16-node cluster. Further, Microsoft estimates that Avanade could save thousands of dollars annually on energy costs with this degree of server consolidation. Plus, the 16-node cluster has plenty of growing room, so Avanade will not need to purchase additional servers for at least three years. Thanks to Hyper-V, the default deployment scenario is that everything at Avanade will be virtualized, Muhich says. As we hit our depreciation lifecycle over servers, we ll be replacing each box with a Hyper-V host server that s going to run several workloads. Data Center Costs Cut by Up to 40 Percent Avanade also anticipates reducing data center costs by as much as 40 percent. Because Avanade can create a virtual machine in an hour, rather than the weeks required to order and provision a physical server, it is far easier and more economical to expand data center capacity. Our data center footprint remains established and static with plenty of room for growth; we can scale out new SQL Server instances without affecting this footprint, Burkland says. Avanade can also perform upgrades faster on virtual workloads. The company has chosen to run many SQL Server instances on its clusters to make upgrades and associated testing easier. We re not shy about SQL Server sprawl, Burkland says. We have decided to go wide instead of scaling up with our SQL Server instances. By having more granularity in our SQL Server instances, our testing scope is far more manageable when we upgrade any of the software on the cluster. If we had one huge SQL Server instance supporting 16 applications, the testing effort needed to upgrade SQL Server or an application would be huge. This structure enables Avanade to be very precise in its upgrade process and break out testing into smaller chunks. This reduces downtime and gets upgraded SQL Server instances into production faster. I estimate that we will reduce our testing effort by 20 percent due to the reduced complexity, Burkland says. Also, because Avanade has fewer physical servers, the IT staff has fewer hardware failures and less maintenance work. Database Performance Improved 50 Percent In addition to watching costs plummet, Avanade has seen database performance soar in a virtualized environment, due to the ability to run SQL Server on the latest hardware and Windows operating system. Database performance has improved by as much as 50 percent in a virtual environment, Burkland says. For example, it takes an hour to run SQL Server Integration Services on a physical server, but it takes 30 minutes to run it on a virtual machine that s on top of supporting many other applications on the server. The performance of key applications, such as Microsoft Dynamics CRM, has also improved dramatically. This benefit of improved database performance is that our users can get their hands on reports in half the time required before. Plus, Avanade is getting much more work out of its server investment. By running multiple virtual machines on every physical server, Avanade has boosted server utilization from 5 or 6 percent to 18 percent a figure that is not higher only because the Sun servers are so powerful.

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 Avanade products and services, call (206) or visit the Web site at: Greater Business Agility With the ability to create virtual machines on demand, without lengthy server procurement and setup processes, Avanade has a more flexible data center infrastructure that enables the business to be more agile and responsive to business needs. Server build-outs and tear-downs are a thing of the past, Schneider says. I can deploy a virtual machine in 5 or 10 minutes. This will significantly reduce our time-to-deployment for new solutions going into production, making Avanade a more agile organization. Microsoft Virtualization 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. For more information about Microsoft virtualization solutions, go to: Software and Services Microsoft Server Product Portfolio Windows Server 2008 R2 Enterprise Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008 R2 Technologies Hyper-V Hardware 20 Sun Fire X4150 x64 servers NetApp FAS 3040 storage area network This case study is for informational purposes only. MICROSOFT MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, IN THIS SUMMARY. Document published January 2010

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