Ghosts in the machine help E.ON cut server costs

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The energy provider has consolidated its data centres across Europe amid rising power prices

Showing that even power companies aren’t immune to rising costs, European energy provider E.ON recently consolidated numerous data centres across Europe into just three main sites as part of a plan to streamline its IT operations.

Completed late last year, the move was driven by rising power, maintenance and management costs. With servers in the UK, Germany, Sweden, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Hungary, the power company, formerly known as Powergen in the UK, wanted to reduce the number of data centres its IT division E.ON IS had to manage.

The company says the consolidation process went smoothly and it has reduced its data centres to three – two in Germany and one in the UK – without  performance issues.

“We haven’t had any negative feedback from the users and we’re happy that the applications are running well in the new data centres,” said E.ON IS UK infrastructure manager Andrew McKenzie.

To make sure that critical applications such as email, intranet, SAP and Citrix could be migrated smoothly to the new data centres, E.On IS looked at analysis software from IBM, HP and Mercury but settled on application management specialist Compuware.

E.ON IS used the software maker’s Client Vantage tools to measure the performance of applications at each of the sites and then help recreate the same response times at the the new datacentres to minimise disruption to its users. “When you are moving large numbers of business critical applications to a new data centre, the organisation simply cannot afford these applications to run badly,” said McKenzie.

According to E.ON, the Vantage system allowed the company to cut costs by helping with the consolidation, and reduce the need to travel between the new sites and the old. The system allows ‘ghost users’ to be created, to simulate the actions of real users accessing applications. The ghosts are administered centrally without the need to travel to each data centre and configure systems individually.

Although E.ON did not disclose how much the data centre consolidation is expected to save the company, an existing relationship with Compuware meant that some of the costs of the transition and management of the new data centres was reduced. “It was more cost effective to deploy Vantage than any other solution, because we could pay per transaction carried out, rather than paying for solution licences,” said McKenzie.

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