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Unisys, VMware slash servers for U.K. freight company

Freight trucking company P&O Ferrymasters is consolidating more than 20% of its Windows servers onto a new Unisys ES7000/one using virtualization software from VMware and Unisys.

After buying several companies, British freight trucking company P&O Ferrymasters had its hands full with dozens of disparate servers -- AS400s, Sun Microsystmes Inc. and Unisys Unix boxes, various Windows servers -- spread out across eight different data centers.

IT director Steve Walters said the company had to pull it all together, cut out the fat and determine which systems and applications it wanted to consolidate. It managed to dump all but one of its 10 AS400s and consolidated a total of 45 Unix and Windows servers onto a single Unisys ES7000/one, which can hold up to 32 Intel Xeon or Itanium processors. In the process, it also ported its Unix applications, particularly its mission-critical freight management application, Fr8Manager, to Windows.

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Now, P&O plans to consolidate even further using VMware ESX and other virtualization software from Unisys, a move that will cut out another 20 systems, bringing the total from 89 to about 69.

"We looked at a lot of the servers and identified that they're woefully underused," Walters said, adding that most of its Window servers run at less than 20% utilization rates. "They're eating up the air and using electric. Most have massive amounts of (unused) capacity."

P&O plans to consolidate onto two Unisys ES7000/one servers, one for production and one for backup. The company is also using Unisys' new Enterprise Virtualization software, announced last month. The suite includes a module called IT Modeler that determines what systems are good consolidation candidates and where to place them, and another called Real-Time Consolidation Accelerator that allows for streaming of operating systemS and application images from physical-to-physical, virtual-to-virtual, physical-to-virtual and virtual-to-physical environments. This will allow P&O to more easily transfer the operating system and applications from smaller Windows servers onto the ES7000/one.

The Unisys virtualization software also includes a bill-back function called Real-Time Chargeback that lets data centers understand where resources are being used in the virtualized environment and bill users appropriately, although P&O is not using the feature, Walters said.

The company's main data center is just outside of Birmingham, but it has dozens of offices throughout Europe. Walters plans to consolidate servers from those remote offices onto the new ES7000/one, reducing operational costs.

"I'm hoping I'll be able to save money on power consumption on these things," Walters said. And, "eventually, by the time we reach 20 [consolidated servers], we'll be able to save on floor space." Walters wouldn't say exactly how much he expected the consolidation to save the company.

Let us know what you think about the story; e-mail: Mark Fontecchio, News Writer, and check out the Blog.

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