Opera House sets the stage for better servers, less downtime
The Grand Opera House in Wilmington, Delaware, suffered server and Internet downtime as well as sluggish network file transfer rates and printing. To cap it off, mobile functionality and remote access were limited.
The non-profit relies on technology to book shows and sell tickets, so downtime leads to lost sales. With internal network problems, shared drives are lost and file transfers are slow, hampering development of print advertising, press releases, grants and fundraisers.
Before the tech overhaul
The 50 employees were using 32 PCs, one Mac and 10 servers. They relied on Windows 2003, Novell and GroupWise servers, with Novell for file sharing and GroupWise for email and shared calendars. The Windows 2003 servers enabled Tessitura ticketing software, remote access and accounting. Two Microsoft SQL 2005 servers held the ticketing system databases. One was a development server and the other a live server.
Most of the servers were several years old, eating up space and electricity. Ticketing software required multiple servers for credit card processing, serving seat maps and interfacing with real-time website booking. Shared calendar access was extremely limited when mobile, making it hard for senior staff to travel and book events.
The core of the two-phase tech upgrade is to replace outdated hardware and move to new software for added mobile functionality.
Pro Computer Service is replacing two Novell file servers with Microsoft file servers, and replacing a GroupWise email server with a Microsoft Exchange 2010 Server. They're converting many existing Windows 2003 servers to virtual servers. The Windows 2003 Server and SQL 2005 servers will be upgraded to Windows 2008 R2 and SQL 2008 R2 to take advantage of 64-bit processing required for ticketing software. A new server with Microsoft Windows 2008 R2 Enterprise Server and Hyper-V lets the opera house move the majority of its software to new hardware, making use of virtualisation to save energy costs.
Pro Computer Service also created an archive file server for older marketing materials and files. They added Symantec Backup Exec with multiple external hard drives and a 4TB NAS device.
Before the overhaul, DNS and internal routing weren't configured properly, resulting in a slow network, with ISP failover provided by the same ISP. The opera house upgraded to Comcast Business Internet, with failover provided by a DSL line from another vendor. New, network-wide, 24/7 monitoring tools were installed to track backups, downtime, event logs and hardware events.
A GroupWise server was replaced by a virtual Exchange 2010 Server for email, migrating 55GB of data with 35 email boxes plus 12 shared calendars, resolving smartphone sync issues and providing stable web based email.
File serving moved to a Windows 2008 R2 server. Pro Computer Service also corrected the disappearance of shared drives on the network using group policies, and increased file security based on groups and managers.
Pro Computer Service is also installing a second server with Microsoft Windows 2008 R2 Enterprise Server and Hyper V, as well as virtualising two Windows Servers, and building two virtual Windows 2008 R2 servers for an updated ticketing system.
Using Microsoft's Hyper V, Pro Computer Service moved nine servers onto new hardware with more memory and much faster CPUs, improving performance. Reconfiguring the network and adding an ISP sped up Internet connectivity by five times, provided Internet failover and doubled speed within the internal network.
The Grand has a proper backup solution for the first time, and can better ensure the security of sensitive data.
As a result of removing seven physical servers and redundant power supplies, cost savings in electricity and cooling could exceed $1,000 per year. With remote monitoring technology, the opera house found it didn't need to replace a departing full time IT staff member. This will save around $18,000 per year, while the non-profit can enjoy unlimited support and access to a team of IT professionals.
The total cost of the tech overhaul is around $30,000. And Pro Computer Service offered a $500 monthly service discount to the opera house. The organisation also enjoyed Microsoft discounts via the non-profit Tech Soup.