The New Zealand Defence Force says it is freeing up an average of 10 servers per week as part of its server virtualisation programme, dubbed Project Crush.
Captain Roger MacDonald, IT security programme director at the Joint Information Services Agency, says the NZDF started to look at server virtualisation in 2005, as part of a wider IT simplification and consolidation programme known as Project Genesis.
MacDonald says that the NZDF’s complex IT environment, which includes 790 servers in New Zealand and more than 100 servers located overseas, presented “a clear case for convergence and consolidation”.
With a main datacentre located in Wellington and a secondary datacentre in Devonport, the NZDF’s IT infrastructure includes more than 14 network layers, and 10 voice and three video networks, which have been supplied by a wide proliferation of vendors.
MacDonald told IT professionals at Computerworld’s virtualisation briefing last week that preliminary tests on one of the NZDF’s largest networks, running on 390 servers, showed that the average server CPU usage was only 2.85%, with occasional peaks at 35.3%.
“The bottom line was that there was scope for virtualisation,” he says.
Using VMware Virtual Infrastructure 3 and VMware Server as the server virtualisation platform, MacDonald says that when the network is fully virtualised it will free up the equivalent of 25 fully-populated server racks, save 143 kilowatts in power consumption annually and allow over 300 servers to be recovered.
While the project will also cut software licensing costs and reduce the organisation’s carbon footprint, MacDonald says the main objectives of the project are to save space in datacentres and reduce the numbers of servers which need to be deployed at sea or in land operations.
MacDonald says that 60 NZDF servers in Auckland have been virtualised to date and a target of 10 server virtualisations per week had been achieved since last month.
He adds that physical factors such as server cabling and “shifting cabinets around” have been the biggest obstacles to Project Crush so far. For this reason the NZDF is concentrating on the secondary Auckland datacentre first because it offers a “cleaner environment” with less complicated cabling than the Wellington site.