UPDATE: Melbourne IT sends WebCentral down the virtual path

UPDATE: Melbourne IT sends WebCentral down the virtual path

New deal with VMware enables higher standard of service, flexibility and availability to WebCentral customers

Melbourne IT’s (ASX: MLB) WebCentral hosting company is using virtualisation technology to enhance the provision of on-demand services to its customers.

WebCentral offers hosted Web, email and application services for SMB, corporate and reseller customers. The company deployed VMware’s virtualisation platform to allow for the provisioning of new services and improved management of its existing services.

Melbourne IT’s chief architect, Glenn Gore, said initially the main driver for the virtualisation deployment was a realisation that the company was running out of data centre space to house its growth and needed to increase the density of its data centre operations.

However, virtualisation’s ability to solve capacity-on-demand and rapid provisioning issues for Melbourne IT’s customers quickly outweighed the space saving benefits in the data centre.

Deploying virtualisation across three of its data centres has resulted in higher standards of service, flexibility and availability for WebCentral’s corporate and government customers, while increasing efficiency of services delivered to its SMB customers, Gore said.

“One of big challenges we have in the hosting industry is how do we size the right solution for a customer because sometimes they don’t even know themselves, they don’t know how successful they might be and they want to start off small.”

“With a virtual environment we can tune that virtual machine with a little bit of CPU, a little bit of memory and storage up front and they get the cost benefits of doing that. Then, as their business grows and expands we can keep turning the dial on those resources and give them more CPU, memory and disk space as they grow. It’s a nice pay-as-you-grow model which u can’t do with physical servers,” he said.

WebCentral has the capacity to operate 653 virtual machines across 49 IBM blade servers in four racks. The virtualization platform has enabled the company to reduce its data centre racks by 20, eliminate 1200 spinning disk drives, and remove five tonnes of IT equipment including server hardware.

“We have also displaced a large amount of our physical computer hardware in favour of using VMware virtual infrastructure to manage some of our key IT services and systems,’’ Gore said.

Virtualisation also allows Melbourne IT to move its virtual machines around without incurring downtime, which Gore said was a huge benefit in terms of increasing availability for high profile sites.

“Our virtualisation implementation has also helped us to markedly reduce our energy consumption,” he said.

The company said its virtualised environment is distributed across its datacenters in eight VMware Infrastructure DRS (Distributed Resource Scheduler) and HA (High Availability) Clusters, using a combination of ESX 3.5 and ESXi 3.5 Installable servers.

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