Welch’s reaps benefits from server virtualization

* Grape juice maker consolidates and virtualizes

Carmine Iannace - manager of IT architecture for Welch Foods, the grape juice maker, in Concord, Mass. - was in a squeeze. The company was running its applications on stand-alone servers and utilization was low.

Iannace wanted to consolidate his server workload onto fewer servers and save money in the process. After evaluating a number of workload management tools, Iannace chose VMware’s ESX Server software, which lets him divvy up a single server into virtual partitions.

"One of the biggest benefits of virtualization I've been able to squeak out is I don't have to have as many people manage the servers as I did before," Iannace says. "I have a 70-to-1 ratio, which is on the very high end. Virtualization makes life more manageable, especially when the normal average is 30 servers to one administrator." 

Iannace’s rollout of VMware has also had great effect on Welch’s operations.

“Approximately 65% of our data center is virtualized,” Iannace says. With VMware, he has cut maintenance costs in half and increased server utilization from a range of 5% to 10% to a range of 50% to 60%.

Iannace has created 15 to 20 virtual machines on each physical server and consolidated his servers on a 15-to-1 ratio. He claims that while it used to take four to six hours to set up a new server, it now takes only 15 to 20 minutes.

Welch’s has 86 virtual machines on eight physical servers. The company is primarily a Microsoft Windows Server 2003 environment with Dell PowerEdge 6650 and 6600 servers and an EMC Clariion CX 600 storage area network. The company also runs Linux on some virtual machines.

"We have a mixture of operating systems," Iannace says. "VMware allows us to host Windows, Linux and Solaris on the same single Intel server. A lot of people are looking at VMware just to consolidate Windows servers - but we are looking at it as a hosting platform so we don't have to buy another Solaris box or Linux box - we'll just put them on the same server." 

Welch’s also runs one of its most business-critical applications on Linux.

"We run our financials on Oracle on Linux," says Iannace, who has 30 Linux virtual servers.

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