Friday, May 24, 2024

Microsoft Virtualization Beats VMware at CH2M Hill

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Microsoft is touting engineering giant CH2M Hill as its latest example of how its Hyper-V virtualization platform is beating out VMware.

Privately held CH2M Hill has been working on cost-cutting initiatives, including server virtualization, since before the economy began to tank in 2007, according to a Microsoft statement released Wednesday.

The Denver-area firm already had a significant investment in VMware’s (NYSE: VMW) ESX hypervisor technology dating to 2005. By 2007, CH2M Hill had virtualized 350 servers in the main office and another 100 in regional offices using VMware.

“The company was cutting costs across the board, and we wanted to push forward with virtualizing more servers, especially in our field offices, but we just couldn’t do it with VMware,” Greg Barton, a senior analyst in CH2M Hill’s enterprise systems group, said in Microsoft’s statement.

Instead, the group decided to switch to Microsoft’s VMware competitor — Hyper-V — along with Windows Server 2008 Release 2 (R2). The engineering firm has so far transitioned 30 VMware virtual machines to run on Microsoft’s virtualization infrastructure and intends to move entirely to Hyper-V over the next three to five years.

So far, CH2M Hill has deployed Hyper-V virtual machines for development and test servers. It’s also using them to run important business applications, which includes running Microsoft SharePoint Server 2007, Microsoft SQL Server 2008, and Internet Information Services 6.0 and 7.0 for Web services. The company also has plans to deploy Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 in the near future.

CH2M Hill uses Microsoft System Center to establish virtual machines as well as to let business groups create virtual machines.

“System Center Virtual Machine Manager lets business groups self-provision and manage virtual machinesas needed, which saves the IT staff a lot of time so we can plan for future projects and initiatives,” Barton said in the statement.

The upshot is that the move is saving the engineering firm cash — primarily in software licensing fees.

“By switching to Microsoft from VMware, we will save $280,000 in software fees. Plus, we can now afford to tackle our 600 field servers and are aiming to virtualize 20 percent of these computers each year. At $5,000 a server, that’s a savings of $3 million over the next three to five years,” Barton’s statement said.

A spokesperson for VMware declined to comment.

Stuart J. Johnston is a contributing writer at, the news service of, the network for technology professionals. Follow him on Twitter @stuartj1000.

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