"As an online communications agency, the success of our business strongly depends on a flexible and fail-safe IT environment. Since we began using Fujitsu vShape, our customers have benefitted from a high-performance and reliable service and one which is also able to competently deal with peak loads. This means that we are once again able to focus on our core area of business: the development of web solutions"
Marcel Burkhalter, Technical Director, internezzo ag
As an online communications agency, internezzo ag hosts websites for a wide range of reputable Swiss companies and organizations. Many companies also commission internezzo to operate their email accounts or webshops. The agency, which is based in central Switzerland, therefore bears a high degree of responsibility for the business and the image of its customers. This is because, today, when a company’s website is down or they are not contactable via email, this has a direct and negative impact on the company’s sales and reputation. The agency’s 15 employees mainly develop customers’ websites using Enterprise Open Source CMS TYP03 in combination with the Magneto eCommerce platform. Its service offering was previously limited to hosting services and customer management. internezzo obtained the hosting technology from an external service provider which resulted in a range of serious problems.
“In the past, we hired the data center resources of a service provider,” explains Marcel Burkhalter, Head of Technology and Member of the Management Board at internezzo ag. “For a while this worked very well, but in 2010 we experienced several, somewhat huge breakdowns.” Downtimes are critical for a service provider – aside from the disadvantages these pose to the customer, every single downtime ultimately costs money, particularly when it affects webshops.
“After this string of incidents, we switched to the Fujitsu partner, BNC, in order to develop our own IT infrastructure. This decision was also driven by the fact that for a long time we felt that we were not having enough of an influence on the architecture and the operation of our hired resources.”
internezzo ag is responsible for several hundred websites; it therefore needs a flexible IT environment which can be easily scaled. As a result, BNC Business Network Communications AG developed a virtualization concept based on Fujitsu vShape – a virtualization package which combines VMware vSphere software, Fujitsu servers, the NetApp storage systems and Brocade switches.
“We are convinced that Fujitsu vShape will help internezzo ag to run a high-performance virtual infrastructure and to minimize its risks,” says Patrik Schilt, Head of Marketing & Sales, BNC - Business Network Communications. “Just one of the many advantages offered by this package is the possibility to purchase all of the components from the same place.” BNC aims to provide IT infrastructures which are implemented cost-effectively and tailored to the individual customer. Customers therefore receive advice, project management, implementation and support as a complete package from the same provider.
internezzo ag has seen a return on investment in its own IT environment much quicker than expected. One of the most important reasons for this is, of course, restored customer confidence. “Since we resorted back to our own IT resources, we have had no more breakdowns,” says Marcel Burkhalter. “The vShape infrastructure requires almost no maintenance and runs very smoothly. In general, everything is now running much more efficiently and reliably.”
internezzo ag is now running three PRIMERGY RX300 S7 servers in two data centers. The connection takes place using high-performance FastIron IP switches from Brocade. Two PRIMERGY servers are used at each branch and are connected to a NetApp FAS2040 storage system. Another PRIMERGY RX300 S7 server with a NetApp filer is also used at the disaster recovery site. All customer applications and services are now virtualized via VMware vSphere. Data is replicated in the second location via the NetApp solution SnapMirror. “This replication between two data centers sets us apart from many other hosts,” states Burkhalter. “We could have all of our virtual machines up and running at the disaster recovery site within one or two hours and the operation would simply continue from there.”
The Technical Director of internezzo ag swears by his Fujitsu vShape IT solution which he is now able to personally configure for his customers as necessary: “A huge advantage is the flexibility that this solution offers us. If we require additional web services for new customers at short notice, these are only ever a few mouse clicks away. We also no longer have to wait for a maintenance window to increase the storage capacity or to expand the server infrastructure.”
The backup concept integrated into the storage system also makes daily backups much easier and more efficient and they can also be accessed significantly faster. “We use a NetApp plug-in to take snapshots of the virtual machines,” says Burkhalter. “We already had to resort to this solution. Once, we accidentally deleted a virtual machine during an update but we were able to reactivate it immediately afterwards. Access to snapshots on a NetApp storage system is a breeze compared to searching the backup data on tape.” Furthermore, allocating the virtual machines to the physical servers is a big plus in terms of administration: “We can install updates on an ESX server and move the virtual machines to the other server without disruption. This means that we can carry out maintenance work during office hours without our customers having to suffer restrictions or downtimes to their service.”
internezzo ag‘s aim to have a greater influence over the IT infrastructure will be achieved with the new infrastructure. internezzo is also very satisfied with the total cost of ownership (TCO). The vShape environment is extremely flexible and requires minimal maintenance. Marcel Burkhalter and his colleagues have now got everything back under control. Thanks to continuous monitoring of the complete infrastructure, potential bottlenecks or problems can be detected early and rectified accordingly. This has not even been necessary before now as the external service provider has always been responsible for it. Nevertheless, internezzo has experienced surprising financial gains, because even though they are operating the IT infrastructure themselves, a great deal of resources have been freed up, as described by the Technical Director:
“Although we are a rather small agency, we have been meticulous about time management for many years. We compared how much time we were currently spending on our IT as opposed to before when we had a service provider. Given the fact that we now have a stable environment, that customers are no longer put off, and that we do not have to coordinate with the service provider, our internal expenses have decreased by roughly 50%, even though we are now doing much more ourselves.”
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