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Reddy Ice Boosts Productivity While Reducing Costs With Microsoft Hyper-V Server Virtualization Technology

Leading packaged ice company upgrades to Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 and Microsoft Hyper-V Server after an unsuccessful pilot test with Google Mail and VMware and continues to explore an array of additional Microsoft technologies.

REDMOND, Wash., April 3, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Reddy Ice, a Dallas-based firm that manufactures and distributes 1.8 million tons of ice per year, has improved productivity, reduced IT infrastructure and increased network security by migrating to a Microsoft Hyper-V Server environment. In switching to a Microsoft Enterprise Agreement in the process, the company has reduced licensing costs and launched a sweeping IT modernization.

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Roughly 600 of Reddy Ice's 3,000 employees operate PCs at 58 manufacturing facilities and 67 distribution centers located throughout the U.S. In June 2010, the company's IT environment consisted of 40 standalone servers, most of which ran Windows Server 2003 on outdated hardware and relied on local disk storage. IT staff members spent much of their time responding to disk-space overload, which resulted in a reactive environment and high levels of email downtime. To address the problem, the IT vice president ordered a pilot test of Google Mail and had the company's five email servers moved to VMware as part of a virtualization initiative.

New IT Manager Assesses Challenges

Google Mail, however, didn't work well with the company's Microsoft Outlook messaging platform, which users didn't want to give up. "People couldn't see one another's calendars; their appointments randomly disappeared, and some email rules didn't work," said Steven Williams, who joined Reddy Ice as IT manager in the midst of the pilot test. In addition, the company still experienced frequent email outages with VMware, and only one of the company's five IT staff was certified to administer it.

When the company's chief administrative officer took over as acting IT head, Williams made the case that it would be 8 percent less expensive — and far better for users — to fix the existing Microsoft Exchange Server environment rather than going with Google Mail. For starters, this would mean upgrading to Microsoft Exchange Server 2010.

Enterprise Licensing Agreement Paves the Way

Before setting his plan in motion, Williams upgraded the company's Microsoft Select Agreement to an Enterprise Agreement. This provided the best possible pricing, as well as more flexibility in evaluating and deploying new software. It also gave the IT team enhanced support, access to TechNet and all the advantages of Microsoft Software Assurance.

By March 2011, the team had migrated Reddy Ice's email from Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 to Exchange Server 2010. Although email downtime had decreased, it still hadn't reached an acceptable level. The team tried replacing the VMware with Microsoft Hyper-V Server virtualization technology in the Windows Server 2008 R2 Datacenter edition operating system.

"We moved one instance of Exchange Server 2010 to Hyper-V and found that it ran a lot better," Williams said. "It was also easier to diagnose and fix anything that did go wrong." Since completing the migration of its entire Exchange Server 2010 environment to Microsoft Hyper-V Server, the IT team has enjoyed virtually trouble-free operation.

Building Continues on Microsoft Hyper-V Server Foundation

The move to Microsoft Hyper-V Server during the past year has enabled Reddy Ice to reduce its 40 physical servers to 15. Systems administrator Erik Tillisch estimates that this has eliminated 40 hours per week formerly spent on maintaining, supporting and backing up standalone servers.

The company will cut costs significantly by standardizing on the latest Microsoft software. In addition to the 8 percent savings achieved by upgrading the Exchange Server environment rather than outsourcing to Google Mail, Tillisch estimates that completing the transition from VMware to Microsoft Hyper-V Server will save another 7–10 percent.

"With the latest Microsoft software, we're delivering more business capabilities with fewer IT headcount at reduced cost," Tillisch said. "We've made major progress over the past year, and everyone is excited about the new opportunities that lie ahead as we work to get the most out of our Enterprise Agreement."

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

SOURCE Microsoft Corp.

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