Vissensa delivers savings to clients through flexible cloud services

Published on 24-Aug-2012

"With help from IBM, we have achieved our goal of creating a cost-effective alternative for SMEs and ISVs launching new products on the market. Rather than sinking huge investments into IT infrastructure upfront, our clients can pay on a usage basis for rapidly provisioned cloud resources from Vissensa." - Steve Groom, Chief Executive Officer, Vissensa

Customer:
Vissensa

Industry:
Computer Services

Deployment country:
United Kingdom

Solution:
Cloud Computing, Enabling Business Flexibility, SmartCloud - Solutions, Virtualization, Virtualization - Server, Virtualization - Storage

IBM Business Partner:
Arrow Enterprise Computing Solutions Ltd.

Overview

Established in 2008, Vissensa began as a traditional systems integrator before moving into the provisioning of high-quality datacenter hosting services. The company currently provides innovative and cost-effective solutions in the areas of business optimization, business protection and hosting, and managed services. Headquartered in Fleet in the United Kingdom, Vissensa employs 12 people and has space in five UK datacenters. With solutions that are of particular interest to small and medium enterprises (SMEs), the company also counts a number of Tier One banks amongst its clients.

Business need:
Vissensa identified an opportunity to give clients launching new products a cost-effective alternative to purchasing and running their own IT infrastructure – and needed to find a highly flexible platform to support this.

Solution:
Developed the Vissensa Solution Exchange (VsX) solution, based on virtualized IBM® BladeCenter®, System x® and Storwize® V7000 technology, managed with Tivoli® software.

Benefits:
Facilitated rapid provision of capacity to clients which can easily be scaled up and down to match unpredictable requirements. Delivered significant savings to clients, while helping them achieve millions of dollars in new revenues.

Case Study

Established in 2008, Vissensa began as a traditional systems integrator before moving into the provisioning of high-quality datacenter hosting services. The company currently provides innovative and cost-effective solutions in the areas of business optimization, business protection and hosting, and managed services. Headquartered in Fleet in the United Kingdom, Vissensa employs 12 people and has space in five UK datacenters. With solutions that are of particular interest to small and medium enterprises (SMEs), the company also counts a number of Tier One banks amongst its clients.

Identifying an opportunity
Part of Vissensa’s mission statement is to offer clients solutions that are truly tailored to their needs, covering a spectrum from infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) to cloud-based software-as-a-service (SaaS) options. The company recognized a potentially profitable niche in developing a highly flexible computing platform pitched at SMEs and Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) launching new products.

Steve Groom, Chief Executive Officer at Vissensa, explains: “Purchasing and running IT infrastructure represents a huge sunk cost for SMEs and ISVs taking their first steps into the marketplace. It is also impossible to predict the demand a product will generate when it is first introduced, meaning companies cannot accurately predict the computing resources they may need in the future. We realized that if we could step in and offer these companies a cost-effective, highly flexible alternative, it would make an incredibly compelling proposition, particularly when our helpdesk, technical support and services skills were offered in conjunction.”

To make this idea a reality, Vissensa needed a highly flexible server and storage platform that it could easily carve up into secure sections that could be scaled up or down to meet fluctuating demand.

“We looked at all the major players, but the IBM approach really stood out for us,” comments Groom. “Rather than taking a “blanket” view of our situation, they really took the time to understand our requirements – an attitude that appealed to us because it mirrored our own approach to our clients. Ultimately, we felt the solution proposed by IBM delivered exactly what we were looking for in terms of performance and flexibility at a very reasonable price point.”

Developing Vissensa Solution Exchange
Vissensa chose to deploy a cloud environment based on IBM BladeCenter HS22V blades, IBM System x3560 M4 servers and an IBM Storwize V7000 Unified Storage System. This fully virtualized environment formed the basis for the company’s first branded product: Vissensa Solution Exchange (VsX). VsX offers a high-performance computing platform that can be deployed on an IaaS basis, if clients wish to stay in control of their IT, or a full SaaS basis, for clients who wish to hand over management of the environment to Vissensa. This flexibility lies at the heart of the offering’s unique selling point.

“Deploying a combination of IBM BladeCenter and System x servers makes it possible for us to match workloads to the best possible platform, optimizing performance and ensuring we meet clients’ specific security requirements,” says Groom. “For example, our clients include Tier One banks, who definitely do not wish for their applications to be hosted in the multi-tenanted environment supported by our BladeCenter machines. For these customers, IBM System x servers provide high-density compute power within a private cloud.

“For clients in other industries, IBM BladeCenter technology is ideally suited to offering compute-on-demand resources to clients, providing unmatched scalability. We simply slot in extra blades as required, and they are immediately available to be added to the pool. As a result, we use the blades for customers who need to seamlessly flex resources up and down to meet fluctuating demand.”

Selecting an IBM Storwize V7000 Unified Storage System as its new strategic platform for data storage helps Vissensa respond quickly to customer demands for greater scalability. Currently, the company has deployed one Storwize V7000 with 35 TB of capacity, but can easily add more disks – including higher-performing IBM Enterprise Solid-State disks – when required. Using the Storwize V7000 Unified Storage System, Vissensa can manage the virtualization and reuse of existing storage systems, including an IBM System Storage® DS3540 disk array, capitalizing on existing investments in technology and potentially supporting a greater return on investment (ROI).

“As our client base grows, and our existing clients demand more, our IT environment will only become more complex,” comments Groom. “IBM technologies such as the Storwize V7000 provide innovative tools to manage this complexity effectively and efficiently, helping us continue to ensure we never compromise on quality of service.

“For example, we worked closely with IBM teams specializing in IBM storage and Tivoli to create a mobile backup solution for one of our clients. The Storwize V7000 is at the core of our backup within the cloud, and in this case takes true copies from mobile technology and enables users to share these securely whilst on the move. This is just one instance where we give our clients access to enterprise-class storage without the large investment usually involved.”

Integrated service management with IBM Tivoli
Vissensa relies on a suite of IBM Tivoli software to manage its IT infrastructure, purchased from IBM through IBM Application-Specific Licensing (ASL). IBM ASL allows the company to deliver the VsX solution to clients bundled with IBM software under one contract, enabling Vissensa to keep costs to clients low along with simplifying its own sales cycle.

“IBM Tivoli software is essential for managing our IT infrastructure,” says Groom. “And with IBM ASL we can roll out extra licenses to our clients at a moment’s notice, giving them the agility they need to compete in today’s fast-moving markets. For example, one of our clients: one of the largest distributors of solar photovoltaic (PV) equipment who provides value-added services to installers certified under the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) – Segen, had to cope with a massive increase in orders on a single day following an announcement by the government that it was changing the “feed in tariffs” for homeowners and businesses using renewable energy. To deal with this huge volume of orders and a doubling of the workforce, Segen needed us to dramatically scale up the resources available to them literally overnight. With the highly flexible IBM technology and licensing options, this was no problem.”

Delivering million-dollar savings to clients
Many of Vissensa’s clients cite access to high-performance computing on demand, through the VsX platform, as a key element in their success. The innate flexibility of the IBM offering makes it possible for the company to deliver on its ethos of truly tailored solutions, giving Vissensa the tools to rapidly provision resources specifically tailored to best meet customers’ demands, and adjust these on the fly as needed.

“With help from IBM, we have achieved our goal of creating a cost-effective alternative for SMEs and ISVs launching new products on the market,” explains Groom. “Rather than sinking huge investments into IT infrastructure upfront, our clients can pay on a usage basis for rapidly provisioned cloud resources from Vissensa. This success of this approach is clear to see among our clients. Segen for example, have stated they simply would not have been possible to scale the business so quickly without Vissensa.”

Products and services used

IBM products and services that were used in this case study.

Hardware:
BladeCenter, BladeCenter HS22V, BladeCenter running hypervisor - VMware, BladeCenter running Linux - Red Hat, BladeCenter running OS - Windows, Storage, Storage: Storwize V7000, Storage: Storwize V7000 Unified, System x, System x: System x running hypervisor - VMware, System x: System x running Linux - Red Hat, System x: System x running Windows, System x: System x3630 M4

Software:
Tivoli Storage Manager, Tivoli Composite Application Manager for Applications

Operating system:
Linux

Legal Information

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2012 IBM United Kingdom Limited PO Box 41 North Harbour Portsmouth Hampshire PO6 3AU United Kingdom Produced in the United Kingdom August 2012 IBM, the IBM logo, ibm.com, BladeCenter, Storwize, System x and Tivoli are trademarks or registered trademarks of International Business Machines Corporation in the United States, other countries, or both. If these and other IBM trademarked terms are marked on their first occurrence in this information with a trademark symbol (® or ™), these symbols indicate U.S. registered or common law trademarks owned by IBM at the time this information was published. Such trademarks may also be registered or common law trademarks in other countries. A current list of IBM trademarks is available on the web at "Copyright and trademark information" at ibm.com/legal/copytrade.shtml Other company, product and service names may be trademarks, or service marks of others. References in this publication to IBM products, programs or services do not imply that IBM intends to make these available in all countries in which IBM operates. Any reference to an IBM product, program or service is not intended to imply that only IBM products, programs or services may be used. Any functionally equivalent product, program or service may be used instead.

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