Photo: Timothy Ngui
It was a purely logical decision. That is how I would describe the choice we made at Ghim Li (Global) Pte Ltd to modernise our IT infrastructure. Our server operating software was more than a decade old. We were in the midst of migrating our datacentre from its old facility to a new location closer to the city centre.
It was a huge undertaking that would have required us to duplicate nearly all the IT assets we had. This would not have been the best solution, seeing that much of our infrastructure was fairly aged.
So rather than procure duplicate hardware to support ageing technology, we made the decision to adopt new technology. This would augment our old technology through virtualisation. And we would do this through the use of a modern server operating system – in this case, Windows Server 2012.
Let's just say that we haven't looked back since.
Originally, the company was running instances of Windows Server 2003 and 2008 R2. Modernising our software has opened doors to a great many opportunities that were previously out of reach. The experience has also provided us with quite a few discoveries.
Among them is the big draw that comes with upgrading a server operating system - augmented virtualisation capabilities.
Through modernisation we have seen our virtual server densities increase significantly. This has allowed us to make better use of the physical space within our datacentre. On an older operating system, we would have had to use a third more servers to achieve the same performance. In effect, we were able to expand our operations without adding more physical servers – simply by virtualising.
A virtualised environment also made switching out our older hardware easier. Maintaining ageing hardware is a nightmare all CIOs are well acquainted with. As virtualisation requires fewer servers, we found we could afford to discontinue some of our older hardware maintenance contracts. This is a great savings as maintenance gets exponentially more expensive once the hardware is no longer sold or generally supported.
No more blue screen blues
Here's another great discovery – automated patching.
We have about 37 servers and we used to have seven employees constantly monitoring and tweaking the servers and networks to keep them up and running. As a global company, we depend on our servers working round the clock to ensure we deliver to the highest standards.
With automated patching as well as the increased stability of modern server operating systems, we now need only two staff on hand to keep an eye on our servers. That is more than 70 percent of manpower freed up to add value to the company in other more efficient ways. Ever since we migrated to Windows Server 2012, there have been virtually no blue screen errors. Even when a virtual machine goes down, it can be recovered very quickly. Plus, automated patching cuts away the hours required to manually patch servers one at a time.
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