Saving about $2 million was the primary reason international business-facility management firm ABM decided to convert its virtual infrastructure from VMware's vSphere to Microsoft's Hyper-V, but that came only after a period of having Microsoft prove that its virtual environment was ready.
The ABM IT department had many skeptics who thought Hyper-V didn't have the features with which to run a business, says Andre Garcia, assistant vice president, global infrastructure services for the company.
But after running the business on vSphere for three years, Garcia took a second look at Hyper-V as part of his routine to check out all options when a technology license agreement is about to expire. So in 2012 he opted not to renew the vSphere license, choosing instead to continue only the maintenance contract.
"We maintained the maintenance on it so that we could continue running the VMware products we were already licensed for, but we didn't enter into a new agreement with VMware. That was Step 1," he says.
He wondered whether Hyper-V had become a sensible alternative. "Is it legitimate? Is it for real?" he says. "So I sent my two biggest VMware bigots to Hyper-V training." They came back saying they thought ABM could run its business on the platform. Just to make sure, he took Hyper-V training himself.
During the course he spoke with Hyper-V customers who were using the platform, and that was the input that changed his mind. "It was actually hearing the testimony of other customers that made us question all of our misgivings about running on Hyper-V and actually started taking it seriously. The discussion turned from what is the absolute best virtualization platform to what can we run our business on."
Once he decided that Hyper-V could in fact run the business, the financial savings made the decision easy. "There's a cost - a significant cost - associated with being a VMware customer," he says. "In order to upgrade to VCloud suite, we would have had to invest $1.6 million and increase our maintenance from $200,000 to $450,000 year over year to maintain this VMware monopoly in our environment." He just couldn't see paying that much to keep technology he felt the company already owned.
He says training, upgrading some hardware and performing conversions between Hyper-V and VMware all represent cash outlays, "but it's well worth it. The savings is huge." ABM was paying VMware between $500,000 and $550,000 per year for maintenance. "Right now we're paying $200,000 [to Microsoft]," so there's a $300,000 to $350,000 per year cost avoidance, he says.
The decision made the company buy a set of five HP DL580 servers to replace an existing five-node IBM SQL cluster for the Hyper-V deployment. Garcia also broke precedent by hiring a consultant, Fyrsoft, to help with the transition.
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