Blog: Server consolidation and virtualization for optimizing SQL Server licensing expenses

One of the leading US agricultural suppliers wanted to upgrade their SQL Server system in order to reduce their overall SQL Server licensing expenses. We performed a thorough financial and technical analysis of their existing OLTP and BI/OLAP database system, and provided a number of optimization suggestions. In addition, we delivered a modernization roadmap to give the customer an idea of potential future plans.

Discover how we approached this project from the following video.

Complex customer’s system

Before our customer turned to us, they consolidated a number of their SQL Server instances. So, when we started the project, their system included a mix of virtual machines and physical servers spread over 2 continents. They considered further server consolidation or even Azure virtualization. They needed to architect the future state of their database system, but did not know where to start from. The main problem, however, related to the expensive CAL-based licensing system.

We came up with a solution that included server-grouping suggestions to craft a cloud-ready architecture and managed to overcome the licensing issue.

Let’s dive deep into technical details of the project.

DBMSys magic

First of all, we connected our in-house DBMSys platform to the customer’s system. DBMSys is a lightweight yet powerful online service designed by DB Best specifically for collecting data from multiple environments. It helps to develop a business case for the upgrade or modernization of the customer’s data infrastructure.

SQL Server licensing

We carefully studied the information collected from the customer’s system during 2 months. As a result, we discovered a number of mission-critical upgrade opportunities. We also discovered what was even more important: the right path to optimize licensing expenses.

Upgrade it!

So, we collected the comprehensive information about the current customer’s data infrastructure with DBMSys. We analyzed it and discovered several upgrade opportunities for unsupported environment or objects on the extended support phase.

When you consider creating a modern cloud-ready system, the upgrade of all of its elements becomes really vital. It turned out that 46% of all operating systems installed in the customer’s environment required an urgent upgrade. The situation with the databases was pretty much the same: we found out that 42 percent of them should be upgraded during the next 12 months. In order to cut the SQL Server licensing costs, we decided to switch to the core-based licensing model (more on that in the next paragraph). To take full advantage of this approach, the customer needed to upgrade no less than 40% of their SQL Server installs.

SQL Server licensing optimization

The current CAL-based SQL Server licensing was expensive and inefficient. In this fragmented licensing plan, the customer owned a number of server licenses and core license packs. The right path to reduce the existing licenses to a common denominator was to switch to a more efficient core licensing model.

With the help of DBMSys, we discovered how to divide the whole customer’s system into 40 Server groups. We then provided the customer with server grouping suggestions. To reach true perfection, the customer needed to retire all remaining physical servers. To accomplish this, we calculated the right size for the virtual machines in order to fit all the consolidated servers and use the core power in the most efficient way.

Delivering the brighter future

As a result, we created a cloud-ready architecture of the customer’s system. However, for the time being, we’re discussing installing it on virtual machines. To make another step forward, we advised the customer on moving their workloads to the Azure cloud. Actually, we found out that 90 percent of the customer’s servers were ready to the move to the cloud. At the same time, 10% of the servers required some minor migration efforts.

A lift-and-shift of the current system would not deliver considerable financial benefits. However, consolidating servers before moving to the cloud may save up to 40% more on licensing expenses. The benefits become even more evident because the customer doesn’t need to spend time managing virtual machines anymore. It is also much easier to optimize and re-architect applications once they’re running in the cloud, rather than making changes to the apps spread among a number of physical servers.

The bottom line

In the end, we delivered a comprehensive modernization roadmap. It includes a thorough description of the future state of the customer’s system, as well as financial analysis of the cloud benefits. The design of the new customer’s system allows for 50% licensing cost reduction, which suits the initial customer’s needs. However, one can improve it even more with a possible move to the Azure cloud.

Contact us to streamline your database modernization project.