Windsor Motors revs its new virtualisation engine


30 Jun 2009

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Windsor Motors has invested in a dynamic new virtualised mission critical infrastructure to cater for the motor industry’s ever-changing IT requirements.

The new dynamic computing environment, implemented by Novosco, provides Windsor Motors with a flexible and resilient backend infrastructure, which will allow the car industry leader to enjoy the benefits of a virtualised environment, providing ease of management, increased server utilisation, increased availability, as well as simple and effective disaster recovery.

“While we continue to trade strongly through the economic downturn, every aspect of the business needs to look at how we can operate more efficiently,” said Enda Martin, Group IT manager for Windsor Motors.

“By virtualising our production server environment, we were able to reduce the costs associated with IT management, power consumption and data centre space. At the same time, we were also looking for increased user performance and better utilisation of hardware. We are very happy with the results.”

The solution enhances resilience and availability by using technologies such as VMware ESX HA and DRS cluster, supported by an EMC Clariion storage array.

This platform protects against single component failure or complete server failure and provides optimal use of server resources at the data centre. In order to facilitate maintenance, live servers can be moved from one piece of server hardware to another using the features of VMware ESX.

All Windows servers with heavy workloads such as production application servers were reduced down to two physical hosts. In future, by using live migration technology, production servers never need to go offline, so routine maintenance can be carried out during normal working hours.

All servers have been made highly resilient using VMware’s High Availability features. The backup solution leverages Symantec Backup Exec and esXpress to allow online replication of virtual machines to the Disaster Recovery (DR) site.

DR testing of key functionality is easily achieved by bringing up the replicated virtual server at the DR site within a non-live virtual switch. VMware VirtualCenter also delivered the added benefit of an excellent remote management tool.

At the DR site, where the emphasis is on recovery in the event of a disaster, a single host has been configured. This DR solution was designed to provide enough storage to house virtual machine images and allow Windsor to take advantage of replication facilities, while also providing them with an environment which can be used to test and develop future services.

As virtual machines were encapsulated into a small number of files, backup and recovery was streamlined and simplified.

For the purposes of DR, copies of the virtual machine files are required at an offsite location, where esXpress allows the replication of live virtual machines from one host to another. This eradicates the need to maintain a live virtual machine at the DR destination, saving on licensing costs and providing a simple, effective and controllable DR model.

“Windsor Motors has reduced the physical server footprint of their production infrastructure from 20 to two” said Eddie O’Rourke, sales director, Novosco.

“This has had a hugely positive impact on the total cost of ownership of its IT infrastructure, and the entire swap out of Windsor’s enterprise servers was achieved within three months. This was a strategic project, meaning that Windsor Motors’ entire server infrastructure now runs on VMware technology.”

By John Kennedy

Pictured: Eddie O’Rourke, Novosco sales director, and Enda Martin, group IT manager, Windsor Motors