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s+c moves towards virtualization with bullion

Posted on 22 February 2012 by Pierre Picard

Schmidt + Clemens (S+C) – a family-owned, international corporation – has drawn on Bull’s expertise to modernize its IT environment.

 

From the town of Lindlar, near Cologne in Germany, Schmidt + Clemens provides high-quality stainless steel products to its worldwide customer base. The company has production facilities in Spain, Brazil, Malaysia, the Czech Republic and the UK. It has several product lines, all of them labeled ‘Made by S+C’: a byword for quality and safety.

At its offices in Lindlar, the company operates and manages almost 350 workstations, 80 laptops and 60 servers. Of those 350 workstations, 200 are PCs. Staff are largely using standard hardware, equipped with industry-standard software such as Microsoft Office 2003 and SAP applications. “One of our strategic objectives is to be the host and supplier of centrally managed applications,” confirms Thomas Taterra, S+C’s IT Director. “With this in mind, workstation virtualization or using the cloud would be the logical next step.” Which is why the 200 PCs (fat clients), are going to be virtualized using VMware View, and then transformed into ‘thin clients’.

The fact that we have bought two bullion® servers, dedicated natively to virtualization and totally integrated into our data center, makes that task easier for us,” Thomas Taterra continues. “When choosing our virtualization solution we decided on VMware View, because our systems administration was very familiar with VMware vSphere, and View was also going to be easy to integrate into our existing environment.”

Thomas Taterra and his team are not the only ones to make the same choice: more and more companies are opting for workstation virtualization, a change that is essentially linked to the growth of cloud computing. Recent research carried out by IDC amongst Germany companies effectively showed that workstation virtualization is set to become the norm in the next few years. 17% of the companies surveyed, including s+c, are expecting their IT environments to be fundamentally changed in this way in the future.

The traditional approach consumes valuable resources

Up to now, the company has managed its computers in the traditional way: installations and updates were carried out centrally, via remote access. But this way of operating had the downside of consuming valuable resources. All the data was stored centrally on a file server, in users’ personal files. But often, in the heat of everyday working, files were saved onto local hard disks and as a result it was impossible to keep control over this data.

If a disk failed, it was a particularly painstaking task to restore the data quickly. But thanks to virtualization, with VMware View, from now on it will be enough just to provide a single system image to the bullion servers, for it to be made available via streaming to all 200 workstations (thin or fat clients). This means the company can streamline its processes and liberate resources so they can be used for other tasks.

 

Greater security and respect for the environment

In parallel, S+C has strengthened its IT security thanks to the virtualization initiative. As Thomas Taterra explains: “Now that we have virtual offices and thin clients, there is no longer any need for ‘data tourism’, especially using USB sticks.”

Workstation virtualization means there is no longer any need for local management of data, because it is all now stored centrally on networked servers and storage bays in a RAID 5 array, guaranteeing much greater protection against system failures. If a piece of hardware does fail, there is no more need for complex manual installation and configuration processes: the faulty thin client is simply unplugged and replaced. The new machine automatically retrieves the complete virtual image of the system via the network. So maintenance is much more transparent and less subject to errors. And all other maintenance tasks are overseen and controlled by systems administrators via remote access.

What’s more, ‘thin client’ infrastructures cost much less than traditional ‘fat clients’ and ‘thin’ computers consume as little as 20 Watts each in normal operating conditions, just a fifth of energy used by traditional PCs.

The advantages of bullion servers

S+C had good reasons for choosing bullions servers. Installed at the company’s data center: they can support up to 160 processing cores. If more processing power is needed, they can easily be extended so fewer physical servers are required. bullion servers are also characterized by the fact that they are very easy to manage.

Another advantage of the bullion architecture for S+C is the ability to rapidly implement a disaster recovery center. The first stage in this process has already been completed for redundant firewalls, proxy servers and spam. “We are planning to extend these safeguards to the application level and, as a result, achieve the optimum level of security for our SAP and Exchange servers,” Thomas Taterra points out.

The sheer power of the bullion servers has also been greatly welcomes as part of the virtualization exercise carried out by S+C. As Thomas Taterra explains: “Especially compared with the old PCs, we noticed a real speeding up in the execution of Excel spreadsheets in the virtual office automation environment provided by the bullion servers.”

When it came to the user population, change management at S+C was done ‘gently’. “We are not going for a ‘Big Bang’ implementation; but if a PC is faulty we will replace it with a new ‘thin client’, and we are not buying any more ‘fat clients’.”

 

Rapid return on investment

With its virtualization strategy focused strongly around quality, S+C is expecting to get back its investment in the project in just a few months. In addition, the company will be making significant savings when it comes to software upgrades, especially for office automation applications, because virtualization allows for a ‘pay-per-use’ approach. That marks the end of ‘shelfware’ type software licenses for office packages that are paid for, but then not used. Finally, it will be possible to extend virtualization rapidly to other areas. “Whether we are talking about the virtualization of applications, PCs, servers, storage or back-up, everything is possible thanks to our bullion servers and the support we are getting from Bull,” Thomas Taterra concludes.

  • • Leader in spun casting, static casting, investment casting and forgings
  • • Revenues of €233 million (2010)
  • • 7 production sites in Germany, Spain, Brazil, Malaysia, the Czech Republic and the UK
  • • 1,000 employees

 

novascale bullion, putting simplicity back at the heart of your system

 

 


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