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Construction Company Builds Virtual IT Infrastructure

When Shawn Partridge arrived at Rockford Construction last year, he found a collection of aged servers, each with its own access to storage. He knew that the first thing on his agenda was to update his IT environment. As the vice president of information technology at the Rockford Construction Company in Grand Rapids, Mich., he was in a position to take action to bring the massive company up to current standards. And Partridge knew that virtualization would have to be part of the picture.

"We looked at the cost of bringing in new servers and bringing in a virtual environment," Partridge said. "We looked at the cost from the outlay, the storage, and the power and cooling. The outlay was much lower by purchasing a virtual system than by going with dedicated systems."

Rockford is a Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) shop, and Partridge plans to virtualize all of his servers. "We're virtualizing our domain, Exchange, SQL, Sharepoint, and our Citrix servers," he said. The ability to add technology from Citrix Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CTXS) is critical to Rockford's operations. The company builds major projects throughout the U.S., specializing in hotels, medical, education, and multi-tenant buildings. This means that Rockford always has crews connecting remotely from construction sites, and, for that, performance and capacity is critical.

Partridge said that his company settled on a suite of Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ) DL-580 G5 servers that connect over an iSCSI SAN to Hifn Inc. (Nasdaq: HIFN) Swarm 3200 storage appliance. He chose a server virtualization system from Virtual Iron Software Inc. . "We went with Virtual Iron instead of VMware because of the features like live migration, server failover, and management of storage," he said. He also needed the power-down functionality: "As your needs go down, it will power down servers and move virtual servers over."

Partridge also likes the way Virtual Iron handles the Hifn storage. "The SAN has two boxes with 15 drives each. Those are the 500-gig drives with iSCSI," he said. "Virtual Iron supports iSCSI natively. You get to retain the cost savings." Partridge noted that the iSCSI drives are on a dedicated Ethernet network that's reserved for storage.

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