A Customer Success from the Experts in Business-Critical Continuity .

A Customer Success
from the Experts in
Business-Critical ContinuityTM.
Microsoft Technology Centres (MTCs) provide a wide range of dynamic resources
to help Microsoft’s enterprise customers, ISVs and partners envision, plan,
build, deploy, operate and optimise customised solutions based on Microsoft
technologies. There are 18 MTCs worldwide–eight in North America and 10
across Europe, the Middle East and Asia.
The UK is served by MTC Thames Valley, which is based at the main Microsoft
campus in Reading. The facility employs a dedicated staff of engineers and
architects who provide a range of offerings (strategy briefings, architecture
design sessions and proof-of-concept workshops) that help to solve challenges
and create new solutions for enterprises across the UK.
Microsoft Technology Center Thames Valley
Type of Business
Computer Services
Web site
Avocent DSView® 3 management software
Avocent MergePoint Infrastructure Explorer
Avocent DSR® digital KVM switches
Avocent AMX® analogue KVM switches
Avocent Advanced Console Server
Avocent MergePoint® service processor
management appliances
Business Benefits
• Avocent DSView 3 software provides a single
point of control via a simple Webbased interface, enabling control of network
equipment remotely
• Avocent MergePoint Infrastructure Explorer
software helps to model server power
consumption and identify hotspots,
enabling more efficient data centre planning
• Avocent solutions integrate fully with other
vendors’ equipment, enabling rapid
deployment with no changes to existing
server infrastructure
“Where data centre management technologies are
concerned, we only use Avocent. In our opinion, Avocent
is by far the best and most innovative solution provider in
this area, setting standards that other companies have to
– Hao-Yin Tsang, Lab Engineer, MTC Thames Valley
Because the MTC often runs projects for several clients concurrently, it needs to
be able to segregate the systems in its data centre to ensure that confidential
data from one project cannot be accessed by unauthorised users elsewhere in
the MTC. At the same time, the small MTC team must be able to manage its
servers and networks effectively. By using a comprehensive set of solutions from
Avocent, the team can monitor and maintain its physical infrastructure easily,
without compromising data security.
When MTC Thames Valley was setting up its data centre, it was important to
implement the right network management infrastructure to enable the small
in-house team to run multiple concurrent client projects effectively. Ease of
management was important, but it was also critical to avoid compromising on
“We often run proofs-of-concept that involve real business data from our
customers’ systems, so it is very important to make sure that all the different
systems are properly segregated and are not mutually accessible from the local
area network,” explains Hao-Yin Tsang, Lab Engineer at MTC Thames Valley.
To help ensure security and provide low-level control of the hardware
environment, the MTC avoids technologies like RDP and manages its servers
at the console level. With seven racks of servers, accessing each one’s console
individually would be extremely inconvenient, so the MTC has deployed an endto-end data centre management solution from Avocent, comprising hardware,
software and services.
A Customer Success
from the Experts in
Business-Critical ContinuityTM.
A Global Partnership
Avocent has been chosen as one of Microsoft’s 11 Global Technology
Partners and supplies equipment and software for all MTCs
“When it comes to choosing technology vendors, the MTCs are
mostly agnostic–for example, we use servers from both Dell and
HP,” says Hao-Yin Tsang. “But where data centre management
technologies are concerned, we choose Avocent. In our opinion,
Avocent is by far the best and most innovative solution provider in
this area, setting standards that other companies have to follow.”
“The AMX switch is a really simple solution, because it provides a
single 1U appliance that enables us to consolidate the local access
to all of our KVM switches and servers,” says Hao-Yin Tsang. “Like
all data centres, we have rack-space limitations, so it’s a real benefit
that we don’t have to waste space on separate LCD trays in each rack.
Instead, we can use the space for more servers, helping us increase
our capacity for project-related work.”
Looking to the Future
Avocent helped MTC Thames Valley deploy Avocent DSView
3 software, which provides a Web-based interface that gives
IT administrators a single point of control for all aspects of the
infrastructure. Using a standard Web browser, they can use DSView
3 software to access the console of any server in the data centre
remotely by connecting to Avocent DSR digital KVM switches in each
server rack.
Even if a server crashes and needs to be physically reset, the team can
handle the problem outside the data centre. The DSView 3 software
connects to an Avocent MergePoint appliance, which provides a
gateway for communication with the server’s service processor. The
service processor, an on-board system within the server, monitors
parameters such as temperature, fan-speed, power mode and
operating system status–alerting administrators to potential problems
and allowing them to reset or power cycle the server.
A similar approach has been taken for the management of
serial devices (such as network routers and switches) which are
aggregated to a single Avocent Advanced Console Server (ACS). The
DSView 3 interface provides remote access to the ACS, allowing the
IT team to manage and configure these devices.
A Compact Solution
Occasionally, it is necessary to work in the data centre. So, the MTC
has deployed an Avocent AMX analogue KVM switch to aggregate
the local connections from all servers, providing a single user station
within the data centre that can access any server console.
As an enthusiastic user of Avocent technologies, the MTC is always on
the lookout for ways to improve the operation of its data centre with
new products.
“One product that we’ve started experimenting with is Avocent
MergePoint Infrastructure Explorer,” comments Hao-Yin Tsang.
“It’s an ingenious piece of software that enables us to create
a diagrammatic representation of our entire data centre and
calculate power consumption across all the devices on our network.
This makes it easy to identify hotspots, so you can potentially
optimise your data centre to make the best possible use of the
facilities available. We have not made practical use of it yet, but
if we extend or redesign the data centre in the future, this kind of
information could ultimately help us save money on electricity and
air conditioning.”
“We are also very interested in a new product—MergePoint Unity,”
he adds. “It’s an IP switch that consolidates both serial and KVM into
a single appliance. This would reduce the number of appliances we
need and save further space.”
He concludes: “The alliance between Microsoft and Avocent is a
huge advantage for us–without these solutions, we simply couldn’t
run our data centre effectively. The Avocent technologies provide
a secure, simple means of managing the entire infrastructure,
from servers down to basic network components like routers and
switches–reducing the amount of time we need to spend in the data
centre and helping us provide a reliable and effective service to our
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