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Mandarin Oriental Hotel: One Person Can Manage Over Ten Virtual Servers

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Mandarin Oriental Prague is a hotel situated in the Malá Strana district of Prague. Mandarin Oriental Prague is part of the Mandarin Oriental multinational chain. Size: 150 employees / 60 users of IT.

By deploying the Hyper-V virtualization on the Microsoft Windows Server 2012 platform in combination with System Center 2012 tools, we reduced the time necessary for server administration by more than half, achieved higher system availability, and decreased our electricity consumption by 60%.
Stanislav Vyhlídka, Director of IT & T, Mandarin Oriental Prague

Task

To ensure migration to a virtualized server room and prepare for migration to a cloud solution.

Mandarin Oriental Prague is part of the multinational Mandarin Oriental chain which uses local operation of all IT systems in each of their hotels. The hotel in Prague therefore operates its own hotel information system, accounting system, restaurant system, spa system, attendance system, event management system, HR system, reporting system, mail server, and the system for electronic data exchange between local and central systems of Mandarin Oriental. Any failure in the majority of these systems has a direct impact on customer satisfaction and comfort. It is therefore necessary to ensure maximum accessibility.

In the past, it was necessary to operate a separate physical server dedicated to each of the systems. This took up a great deal of administrative time and too much physical space in the server room, placing high demands for its cooling, and resulting in high energy consumption. The separate operation of individual systems did not enable the elimination of redundancy. Unfortunately, this set up resulted in regular failures of various systems occurring four times a year on average and lasting for several hours.

In 2010, the hotel therefore decided to migrate to a virtualized solution, making use of the Microsoft Hyper-V technology above the Windows Server 2008 R2 environment, and selected Infinity to implement the migration to a virtualized environment. Infinity also recommended some System Center 2010 tools for automating the administration of the extensive server infrastructure. The deployment of these tools enabled Infinity to offer, among other services, remote troubleshooting with a very attractive SLA in terms of the response speed.

Solutions

A two-node cluster was created as part of the migration to a virtualized infrastructure. If one of the physical servers breaks down, as happened several times in the past, the other physical machine takes over the whole load without any system failure. But in fact, since the time of migration to the Hyper-V virtualization and the implementation of administration by means of the Microsoft System Center tools, no failures have occurred. 

In 2013, the company decided to migrate the whole server infrastructure to a new generation of Microsoft server products. Thanks to Software Assurance, they were entitled to obtain these products free of charge. The key reason for the migration was the broad spectrum of new functions, including the innovated ReFS system, offering automated block-level data deduplication. When there is only one administrator in charge of the whole server room and the telecommunication structure, it is not possible to control duplicate files and directories on the shared disc spaces of users. This results in an increased incidence of fully duplicate files that caused the increased demands for disc space on the original NTFS file system.nbsp;

The new generation of the System Center 2012 tools brought enhancements that are very important for the company as it prepares for gradual migration to a cloud. The first phase will include transition from the company’s ownexchange server to Exchange Online under Office 365, which the System Center 2012 tools are already able to monitor. The company is also interested in the cold standby technology of virtualized servers, which is already available from Windows Server 2012, and in the possibility of local data replication to Windows Azure Storage

Achievements

By migrating to a new Microsoft server environment, Mandarin Oriental Prague obtained a wide spectrum of advantages. The advantages are primarily technological, ranging from a higher availability of key applications through energy savings to a base for migrating to a cloud solution. However, time savings are also crucial, considering that the IT department is staffed with only one administrator. Mere routine checks of the extensive server infrastructure took about one hour of the administrator’s time daily. Fortunately, the routine checks are not required any more thanks to the wide-ranging automation by means of tools from the System Center 2012 family and scripts in the PowerShell environment. In aggregate, the time savings amounted to up to 60% of the administrator’s time. The IT & T Director can now devote this time to hotel guests, helping them to configure WiFi connections and settling other technical issues with them.

A significantly reduced number of physical machines, resulting in the savings of space in the server room and energy savings also was a great benefit. The electricity consumed by the server infrastructure alone dropped by 60%. Further energy savings also considerably decreased the demands for additional cooling

Business Impacts

  • 60% of the system administrator’s time saved
  • New possibilities in the area of virtualization and data deduplication
  • Elimination of failures of internal IT systems
  • Electricity consumption reduced by 60%
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