Microsoft Windows Server System
Customer Solution Case Study
/ / Service Provider Selects Microsoft Operating System over Linux, Improves Performance
Country or Region:United States
Industry:Professional Services
Customer Profile
Headquartered in Andover, Massachusetts, NaviSite provides professional and outsourced services to approximately 1,100 mid-market organizations in the United States and internationally.
Business Situation
In testing for a large-scale PeopleSoft Web portal deployment for one of its customers, NaviSite encountered stability and scale issues with Linux Red Hat and Apache software.
NaviSite deployed a solution based on Microsoft® Windows ServerTM 2003, Standard Edition, and Internet Information Services version 6.0. With load balancing between two HP ProLiant server computers, NaviSite accommodated 1,200 concurrent users.
Saved more than U.S.$90,000
Reduced hardware costs
Customers get enhanced security and increased stability / “Because Linux would have required additional servers to achieve the stability and scale we desired…it was clear to us that Microsoft would provide us more for our money.”
Mark Clayman, Senior Vice President of Service Delivery, NaviSite
In testing a PeopleSoft portal deployment for one of its customers, service provider NaviSite found that the Red Hat Linux operating system couldn’t accommodate the necessary number of users, given the customer’s chosen hardware. Due to the availability of engineers who are familiar with Microsoft® software, and extensive support documentation, management felt that running PeopleSoft on Microsoft technology would be less costly than the Linux alternative. NaviSite evaluated the Microsoft Windows ServerTM 2003, Standard Edition,operating system and its integrated Web server, Internet Information Services version 6.0, against Linux. The company found that the Microsoft solution eliminated the need for additional hardware and accommodatedmore users, while being easier to support. The choice to implement Windows Server over Red Hat for one of its many customers saved NaviSite more than U.S.$90,000.


NaviSite provides professional and outsourced services for middle-market organizations. Headquartered in Andover, Massachusetts, NaviSite currently serves approximately 1,100 companies, divisions of large multinational corporations, and government agencies throughout the United States and internationally.

When one of its customers needed assistance deploying PeopleSoft Enterprise Portal 8.0 software for as many as 20,000 employees working in remote offices throughout the United States, NaviSite originally chose to use the Red Hat Linux 7.1 operating system and Apache Web server software as the foundation for the solution. Once deployed throughout the enterprise, the PeopleSoft portal would provide users with Web-based access to the company’s financial, human resources, and corporate information, as well as other business-critical software applications, through the use of a single user name and password.

To determine if the Red Hat software would meet the customer’s requirements in terms of concurrent users who would need to access the portal, NaviSite conducted a pilot implementation for 1,000 users in June 2003. In preparation for the pilot, NaviSite installed Red Hat Linux 7.1 on two HP ProLiant DL380 dual processor server computers, each running three instances of Apache Web server software, in order to achieve proper load balancing and support the anticipated number of users.

Testing Reveals System Flaws

As the target date approached for rolling out the solution to users in the field, NaviSite engaged Keynote—a provider of Internet performance monitoring, load testing, and diagnostic services—to assess the stability of the Linux solution at various load levels using Keynote LoadPro software. After several weeks of testing, NaviSite determined that the Red Hat operating system wasn’t capable of accommodating the number of users that its customer would ultimately need to support, given the customer’s infrastructure and hardware. Even after making several adjustments to load balancing, the operating system, and Web services, the Linux solution was unable to support the desired minimum number of concurrent users.

“We chose Linux initially based on the premise that we would be able to lower software, hardware, and support costs for large-scale PeopleSoft deployments, while at the same time increasing performance and stability. What we discovered through our pre-production testing was quite the opposite,” says Mark Clayman, Senior Vice President of Service Delivery at NaviSite.

Although NaviSite intended for each server computer running Red Hat to support 600 concurrent users, testing with LoadPro showed that the Linux/Apache-based Web servers consistently failed load-testing simulations with far fewer users. Each time LoadPro placed more than 60 users on a single instance of the Apache Web server software, or more than 150 concurrent users on a single ProLiant server computer, the entire PeopleSoft application would be brought down, rendering the portal and its connected applications unavailable to users. “With Linux, we were unable to achieve the required level of stability and performance for the number of users that we needed. So the hardware used in the solution remained underutilized,” says Clayman.

In addition, the company faced other concerns with its use of Linux-based servers for large-scale PeopleSoft installations. Because there are a greater number of engineers in the marketplace who have experience with Microsoft Windows®-based solutions than there are who possess detailed knowledge of Linux, hiring IT professionals to support Linux-based solutions presents challenges as well as potential increased costs for IT companies. NaviSite employs a greater number of engineers who specialize in Windows-based solutions. Therefore, company management believed that using Linux as the basis for its large-scale PeopleSoft deployment would result in increased support costs. “It has been less costly for us to hire, train, and develop engineers to support Windows-based solutions than itis for Linux-based installations,” says Clayman.

Although the PeopleSoft portal application could be restarted fairly easily when failures occurred in the test environment, similar interruptions would have more severe repercussions once the solution was fully deployed to various customer sites operating in a production environment. The PeopleSoft Web portal was designed to provide 20,000 employees who worked in remote offices throughout the country with access to several business-critical applications. If the Web servers running PeopleSoft failed in a production state, it would mean potentially thousands of employees wouldn’t be able to access applications and information that they need to perform their jobs.

Issues of stability, scale, cost, and support led NaviSite to consider other options. “It would have been entirely possible for us to use existing Linux-trained personnel for this particular PeopleSoft installation, but it would have required approximately four to five additional servers and significantly more support resources than we preferred. It would have also been more costly for us—both initially and when we extend the solution to a greater number of users,” says Clayman.


Because of the issues the company experienced during the pilot, NaviSite chose to evaluate a solution based on the Microsoft® Windows ServerTM 2003, Standard Edition, operating system, the foundation of Microsoft Windows Server SystemTM integrated server software. The company installed the operating system software and Internet Information Services version 6.0 as the Web server software on two ProLiant server computers. “We tested the Linux and Microsoft solutions side by side and found that we were able to get approximately 80 percent of the performance we were looking for out-of-the-box with the Microsoft solution,” says Clayman. “In addition, we were able to easily fine-tune Windows Server 2003 to achieve the level of performance that we desired.”

The key differentiator between the two solutions was that the Microsoft solution accommodated a greater number of concurrent users—up to 600 for each server computer running the Windows Server 2003 and IIS 6.0 software. The increased capacity available with the Microsoft solution helped NaviSite arrive at a quick decision. “We never got as far as conducting a formal total cost of ownership analysis between Microsoft and Linux for this particular PeopleSoft installation,” says Clayman. “Because Linux would have required additional servers to achieve the stability and scale we desired—as well as considerably more time for configuration and management—it was clear to us that Microsoft would provide us more for our money.”

After NaviSite chose to implement Windows Server 2003, the deployment process went smoothly for those involved. Detailed support documentation from PeopleSoft on how to integrate the PeopleSoft portal software in a Windows-based environment helped NaviSite deploy, configure, and load test the solution for 1,000 users in a couple of days. Shortly thereafter, NaviSite began extending the solution to the remaining userbase—work that the company completed by April 2004.


One year after the pilot, NaviSite is very pleased with the Microsoft solution. “Ultimately, it would have cost us much more to go with Linux, particularly from a capital expenditure standpoint,” says Clayman. For NaviSite, the choice to implement Windows Server 2003 over Red Hat for just one of its many customers resulted in an easier-to-manage environment, increased stability, and total cost savings of more than U.S.$90,000. “Although we offer a full spectrum of service offerings and support many different platforms, the Microsoft solution proved to be the best choice for this particular deployment,” he adds. “Based on our experience with the PeopleSoft installation, I believe that many other customers could also benefit from Windows Server 2003 and IIS 6.0.”

Easier Configuration and Management

NaviSite employees who participated in the PeopleSoft deployment find Windows Server 2003 very easy to configure and manage. Compared to the time it took for NaviSite to configure the Red Hat software, engineers were able to configure and deploy the Microsoft solution in a matter of days. “We were able to deploy Windows Server 2003 right out of the box and then easily configure integrated services such as IIS to meet our customer’s specifications and timeline.”

In addition, because more extensive documentation, tools, and resources are readily available to support Windows-based solutions, management believes that the Microsoft solution will continue to provide savings. “It’s a lot easier to find talent resources for Windows-based solutions than it is to find individuals who have the skills necessary to support other platforms,”
says Clayman.

In fact, by using Windows Server 2003, NaviSite can support such large-scale deployments with its existing staff. Clayman estimates that choosing Windows Server 2003 for its PeopleSoft deployment helped the company avert a staffing/training expenditure of more than $75,000.

Reduced Hardware Costs

With Windows Server 2003, NaviSite accommodates a much greater number of users on each server computer than was possible with Linux—up to 600 users at any given time. This increased capacity helped NaviSite extend the value of its customer’s previous investment in hardware. To achieve stabilization with Red Hat for 600 concurrent PeopleSoft portal users, NaviSite would have needed to deploy an additional four to five ProLiant servers. Clayman figures that the extra hardware would have cost approximately $20,000.

Enhanced Security

NaviSite is confident about the improvements that Microsoft is making to the security of its operating systems. Secure-by-design features of Windows Server 2003, including out-of-the-box default settings for the highest level of security possible, contribute to this confidence. In addition, the extensive array of tools, services, and documentation that are available on the topic of Windows-based security, combined with the familiarity that NaviSite staff members have with the Windows platform, should provide the company’s customers with a higher degree of assurance in the security of the systems that NaviSite deploys. “The more experience our employees have, and the greater their familiarity with certain applications, the easier it is to help create a secure environment for our customers,” says Clayman. “With the documentation and resources currently available, it’s becoming easier for us to secure a Windows-based server.”

For management, the sense of security is enhanced by the high visibility Microsoft provides into newly identified security concerns, and the company’s commitment to remediating issues as quickly as possible. Through timely communications about security issues, frequent security updates, and the release of new product and service offerings, Microsoft helps NaviSite keep abreast of security developments. For example, management considers the new indemnification policy offered by Microsoft to be an advantage over other software providers. Although NaviSite has not experienced any intellectual property issues in the past, management is reassured that the company will enjoy full support from Microsoft should the need arise. “Dealing with software implementation on a daily basis, it’s great to know that such protection is available both for us and for our customers,” says Clayman.

Furthermore, NaviSite expects that the Microsoft solution will help its customer improve security and decrease the costs associated with security update management. The centralized administration and secure remote access offered by Windows Server 2003 make it much easier to monitor security issues and respond to critical issues in a timely manner.

Increased Stability

NaviSite says that the stability of the Microsoft solution has had a positive impact on customer satisfaction and has increased confidence in NaviSite solutions. “Our customer is now in a stable production environment,” says Clayman. “Since the time of deployment, the Windows environment has proven to be extremely secure and reliable, enabling us—and our customer—to concentrate on other initiatives.”

The choice to implement Microsoft Windows Server 2003 and IIS 6.0 has ultimately resulted in cost savings of more than $90,000, accommodated a greater number of users, and provided a platform that will meet the future needs of NaviSite and its customer. “Because of the wealth of resources available, we have a lot of confidence both in the stability of Windows Server 2003 and in our ability to resolve issues we may encounter,” says Clayman.

Microsoft Windows Server System

Microsoft Windows Server System integrated server infrastructure software is designed to support end-to-end solutions built on the Windows Server operating system. Windows Server System creates an infrastructure based on integrated innovation, Microsoft's holistic approach to building products and solutions that are intrinsically designed to work together and interact seamlessly with other data and applications across your IT environment. This helps you reduce the costs of ongoing operations, deliver a more secure and reliable IT infrastructure, and drive valuable new capabilities for the future growth of your business.

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