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Professional Advantage Helps Albert Smith Industries Go Hyper with a Virtualised Environment

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With a solid recommendation and some help from Professional Advantage , Albert Smith Industries was able to deploy Microsoft's Hyper-V within their organisation as a virtualisation solution.  

Albert Smith Industries is the umbrella organisation of more than 20 construction-related companies operating across New Zealand, Australia and the Pacific region.  

It also owns and oversees the activities of ASI Group, a services organisation established to provide administrative support to all Albert Smith Industries companies.  

In addition to functions such as payroll and accounting services, one of ASI Group's key responsibilities is the provision of reliable and robust IT services and support to the entire organisation.  

Problem  

For the last 12 years ASI Group has delivered IT services to its sister companies using a centralised model based on Citrix software. For about 2½ years now, it has also been operating a virtualised server environment to run core applications such as Sun Systems financial management software.

The decision to adopt virtualisation came about when ASI Group was working with IT partner Professional Advantage on a major storage area network (SAN) upgrade.  

Ross Robinson, ASI Group IT Manager explains that the project required upgrades to a couple of servers and they had to optimise the hardware to get the performance required. Virtualisation enabled by VMware was their solution.

The result has given ASI the flexibility and scalability it needs to keep up with the construction industry's astronomical growth.  

Despite its inherent scalability though, ASI Group's server environment had changed substantially by early 2010. From a total of eight servers in 2008 the organisation was now managing 20 physical and 44 virtual servers.  

The increase in equipment resulted in a corresponding increase in the effort required to maintain their VMware environment.  

Solution  

Unwilling to increase staff numbers, Robinson researched ways of simplifying systems management. Exploring alternative virtualisation solutions from various software providers, he tested Microsoft's Hyper-V, conducting comparative performance reviews of Hyper-V and VMware using ASI Group's actual installed applications.

He found that Hyper-V virtualisation software was simply a better tool to use. Professional Advantage also recommended the same solution.

Robinson and his team managed the Hyper-V deployment themselves with a little help from Professional Advantage, resulting in significant savings for the company. Having already learned how to optimise the software during the test period, it took just a little over one hour to install the server and get Hyper-V up and running.

Benefits

Robinson believes that by using Hyper-V, ASI Group is saving up to $30,000 annually due to reduced software licensing costs and the freeing up of staff time. Additionally, they don't have the overhead of extra training or extra staff.

Robinson's original aim of simplifying management of the system has also been achieved.  

He says that Microsoft has built an add-on package to allow all server management tools including all AD management, Hyper-V, Fail Over Clustering, DHCP, DNS and any server management tool found normally on servers into its Windows 7 desktop eliminating requirement for extra interfaces.

Future

Over the next year ASI Group will be adding to its servers as it develops a comprehensive disaster recovery capability.  

It will continue to use virtualisation techniques and Microsoft's Hyper-V to maximise the potential of its hardware, along with ad hoc consulting and technical advice from Professional Advantage.

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