H&D – An HCL Technologies Company

Implementation of a virtual server infrastructure - Continental AG

Increase of performance and availability whilst simultaneously sinking costs

Initial situation

In order to react to growing business requirements in the IT infrastructure, Continental AG have used an up-coming server replacement to virtualise the server landscape. As a technical platform for the virtual infrastructure, the groups own internal virtualization platform, VMware, was used successfully. In addition, an operational system switch from Windows Server 2003 to Windows Server 2008 R2 was integrated into the project plan. The demands on stability and availability were fulfilled in accordance with the operational system.

Requirements on the project

  • Establishment of a stable operational environment through virtualisation
  • Reduction in the number of physical servers and thus a sinking of the TCO thanks to reduced administration and maintenance effort, whilst also dropping space and energy requirements
  • Fast and flexible provision of server resources upon changing business requirements
  • Minimisation of downtime through maintenance work
  • Reduction of time effort for back-ups following successful implementation of the infrastructure.
  • Updating of utilised operational system

The specification for all activities was a reduction in breakdowns in business processes. Continental AG placed particular emphasis on the stringent availability of the print server.

H&D International Group had previously been employed by Continental AG as a service provider in the field of Remote Server Management. Due to their IT know-how in the automotive industry, H&D were selected for the project "Implementation of a virtual server infrastructure".


Due to the exchange of hardware and the simultaneous switching of the implemented operational systems, the demands on the project were made exceptionally complicated. For that reason, during an early phase of the project, numerous agreement discussions were held with all relevant parties i.e. the hardware suppliers or service providers for the operation of network infrastructures.

With the goal of guaranteeing the successful progression of the project, an approach model was mutually developed and initiated.

The fundamental milestones of the project's implementation were:

  • Start-Up workshop on the topic of virtualisation with the evaluation of necessary hardware and software
  • Agreement with involved service providers and definition of the transfer-interfaces
  • Initiation of the new hardware platform
  • Support in the approval of the hardware
  • Adjustment of the network infrastructure mutually with the responsible service providers
  • Implementation of the virtual infrastructure
  • Agreement with those responsible for the application and the responsible operators
  • Planning of the implementation with the least possible time period of non-availability
  • Installation of virtual servers on new operational systems
  • Upgrade of the server's operational system from Windows Server 2003 to Windows Server 2008 R2
  • Installation according to the customer's specifications
  • Migration of the file and print servers
  • Validation of printer operator
  • Migration of data
  • Adjustment of authorisation concept
  • Approval by the customer
  • Transfer to operation

Time frame

The project start began with a workshop in November 2010. There then followed further discussions which laid the groundwork for the commissioning of H&D International Group. Following the ordering and delivery of the hardware, the project was then initiated in February 2011. Upon project approval by Continental AG, operations with the new infrastructure got underway in August 2011.

Since the transfer to the operational phase, H&D International Group have remotely supervised the new infrastructure from the branch offices in Hanover.

Customer benefits

With the transfer of the server platform to a virtual environment, there were a number of positive (cost-) effects noted by Continental AG:

  • Significant reduction of the TCO on the server landscape through the reduction in the number of physical servers – leading to the subsequent reduction in effort and cost for hardware and software maintenance
  • Reduction of costs for infrastructure → from the reduction in the number of servers, the demands on space and an improved energy balance resulted
  • Optimised support of business processes with faster and cheaper provision of new virtual servers with the necessary capacity (no performance shortfalls and no build-up of surplus capacity in the future)
  • In addition, the availability of the infrastructure is assured.

Meaning in detail:

  • Minimisation of down-times thanks to the safeguarding of all virtual servers by two ESX hosts with multiply redundant characteristics on hardware and system sites.
  • In utilizing VMware HA for business critical systems, the availability was significantly increased
  • Long-term assurance of support for the operational system with upgrades to the current version
  • Reduced down-times even during maintenance periods thanks to the utilisation of VMware vMotion Technology