Achtung! 3,500 BMW dealerships going virtual

Continuing with yesterday’s theme… on the first day of “Virt-Mas” my true love brought to me – 3,500 BMW dealerships that will be deploying Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V later this year.

Before sharing BMW’s story, I first wanted to say “thanks” to Mark and Dugie for their comments to me today. And Frank at QLogic launched a Web page today where you can learn more about their benchmark measuring QLogic HBA and Hyper-V performance. Their results surpass VMware’s May 2008 test, which may surprise some people. Now onto BMW …

Unless you read German and troll the German newswires, you probably missed Microsoft’s news release on a project that BMW is deploying to 3,500 dealerships around the world built on the Windows platform. I don’t speak German [“Ich spreche nicht Deutsch”], but a colleague in MS-Germany translated the announcement for me. Following is a translation of some of the news release:

Microsoft Consulting Services has developed a retail server platform based on Windows Server 2003 and Virtual Server 2005 for a globally operating automobile manufacturer. The solution permits the rollout of new applications and services in a typical branch office infrastructure, while ensuring a high degree of standardization, a minimum of operating effort, and the necessary system security. These requirements count among the major challenges in the contract dealer and franchise environments, where operators traditionally tend to operate more independently. Dealers’ customers – and their own employees – profit from optimized advisory procedures, shorter waiting times, and improved quality of advice.

The use of virtualization technology allows the corresponding multiprocessor hardware to be utilized flexibly. It also guarantees a high degree of security against failure, while at the same time reducing the amount of testing necessary for simultaneous use of different applications. With the help of Microsoft Forefront Intelligent Application Gateway 2007, a remote access solution has been implemented that allows access to 3rd level support in the heterogeneous network structures of the workshops while taking into account the high data protection requirements of the dealers.

The BMW group is relying on the Microsoft server platform to underpin its rollout of a new hardware and application infrastructure for its more than 3,500 service operations worldwide. This infrastructure is known as the Integrated Service Infrastructure Server (ISIS). Based on the platform, premium aftersales services will be offered that are standardized across the globe. This rollout will be completed in the first quarter of 2008.

An upgrade to the 64-bit Windows Server 2008 with Microsoft’s new Hyper-V virtualization technology is already planned, in order to utilize the performance capabilities of the hardware to an even greater extent. BMW also plans to roll out the SQL Server and BizTalk Server in the course of this migration. SQL Server 2005 allows the platform to be laid out in a more homogeneous fashion, while the use of BizTalk Server 2006 represents a significant steps towards a uniform modular front-end, including the optimization of processes and the integration of various backends. 

 In short, BMW’s Integrated Service Infrastrructure Server will be the technology architecture for after-sales service at 3,500 BMW dealerships around the world. I do recall seeing a slogan that BMW uses/used with this project. It was something like, “the first car was sold my marketing; the second by services.” Here’s a few other details that didn’t make the news release:

  • On average, dealers will have 2 servers and roughly 20 client devices per location, which they will use for everything from sourcing spare parts to accessing diagnostic manuals and consulting customer service policies.
  • BMW is initially using Virtual Server 2005 R2 (on Windows Server 2003 EE) to consolidate and run .NET-based applications, business process integration and other applications on each server.
  • BMW is using System Center Operations Manager; no word if they’ll use SCVMM 2007/2008.

So what’s my point? Why does anyone care about a deployment using Virtual Server the day AFTER we released Hyper-V? I’m interested to hear your thoughts. Here are mine:

  • if you’re a Virtual Server customer, now you know that there’s someone else who has plans to move a large # of Virtual Server-based VHDs to Hyper-V
  • server virtualization (be it Type 1 or Type 2) is great, but it’s just part of the architecture needed to deploy their new after-sales service. As a colleague always tells me, “a hypervisor by itself can’t even run calculator; you need apps and an OS to do something.” For BMW, it’s handy that the hypervisor can come from the same vendor as the applications, dev tools, management tools and OS.
  • if you’re an SI partner (perhaps going to WW Partner Conference next month), it represents a services opportunity to help customers design their architectures, virtualize packaged and custom apps, and integrate those with other systems.
  • If you’re a VMW shareholder, that’s approx. 28,000 VMs that will be running on Hyper-V in the near future 😉

11 more days until Hyper-V available via Windows Update (WU). Have a good weekend.