Domicil is the leading provider of residential and service offerings for older people living around the cities of Bern and Thun. The in-house IT team is responsible for providing the 900 employees with tailored IT services every single day. In the past, this was done using a centralised IT infrastructure with virtualised servers and thin clients, but the increased use of multimedia and 24" monitors were causing bottlenecks and leading to frustrations among the staff. By making the switch to an HPE Moonshot system, these issues were consigned to history.
Increasing user needs were bringing the existing solution to its needs. As a result of its heterogeneous structure with 20 locations, Domicil decided to go for an affordable, centralised IT infrastructure pretty much from the get go. A homogenous desktop provisioned by XenApp on around 400 thin clients and notebooks was presented to users. The downside was that the more employees used the system, the more data-intensive the applications and therefore the slower they became. The increase in the number of multimedia and 24" monitors—sometimes used two at a time—only exacerbated the performance issues. Head of IT, Marc Patzen: “Users had enough time in the mornings to make themselves a cup of coffee before their desktops had booted. During peak periods, the system was so overwhelmed even keyboard input lagged behind.” The expiry of the maintenance contract for the server hardware in the data centre meant the time had come for a change. IT head: “In workshops with our partner Bechtle Schweiz, we discussed three possible scenarios: Carry on with six or seven more powerful servers and a VMware virtualisation layer, install a very powerful host for 10 to 15 virtual servers with Citrix and a high-performance video card, and option 3—Moonshot.”
HPE Moonshot with dedicated hardware for every Windows server. Domicil’s IT team carried out an extensive evaluation before finally deciding to go with Moonshot technology. “Being able to get back to basics without having to invest in 15 expensive servers was a real draw for us from the start”, says Marc Patzen.
At the heart of the new system is a compact HPE Moonshot 1500 Chassis (4. 3 U form factor) that includes all elements for management, power supply (4 x, redundant), cooling (5 x, redundant) and network (2 x redundant) and can be populated with up to 45 server cartridges. Andreas Burri, responsible for infrastructure at Domicil, explains: “As our IT team already had extensive experience with Citrix XenApp, setup was relatively easily. We now have one server cartridge with Citrix XenDesktop Master, 16 with Citrix XenApp Worker and two each for the Provisioning Service and Citrix StoreFront. The Provisioning Server makes a golden image available as a virtual hard disk from which the individual Moonshot servers boot.” In contrast to the previous solution, each Windows server now has a workload-optimised cartridge with dedicated computing and graphics resources and its own memory and SSD module.
Moonshot is a huge step forward both for our business and our end users.
Significantly better user experience and unlimited scalability. “HPE Moonshot is a huge step forward both for our business and our end users”, explains head of IT, Marc Patzen. “We used to get at least five calls a day complaining about system performance issues. Now we get one a week because a desktop icon isn’t where it should be.” Systems Engineer, Andreas Burri: “The boost in performance has been enormous. The old system with 25 virtual servers regularly reached its limits during peak periods. Our staff are now working productively with multimedia and graphics applications even when only half the cartridges are being used.” Moonshot runs so well that our software sometimes struggles to keep up with the speed, especially when launching services. At the moment, we subsequently launch services manually.” He also mentions some specific Moonshot benefits: “With Moonshot, the software runs directly on energy-efficient and compact hardware that has been optimised for this application scenario without a hypervisor or corresponding costs for CPU power and licences. The initial investment is quite expensive, but the space and energy we save, simple installation and the excellent system management quickly make off for those costs.” An additional benefit is the solution’s scalability.
Andreas Burri: “Moonshot enabled us to get a new remote location with 40 users up and running in half a day. All we have to do is add a new server cartridge to the Moonshot Chassis, order a data line and thin clients.” The productive systems running in parallel in Moonshot ensure the highest levels of security and availability, particularly important as Domicil’s information system needs to be running around the clock. The company is currently considering how the remaining hosts with virtual machines can be transferred to Moonshot. Head of IT, Marc Patzen: “I can definitely image only having two Moonshot Chassis and one storage system as the basis of our company’s entire IT infrastructure.”