Redcentric enables sixty-fold capacity increase without expanding footprint

Published on 07-Dec-2012

"Ultimately, the aim is to offer customers what they want, rapidly and at commercially attractive rates. IBM Flex System provides the scalability, flexibility and reliability to make that proposition possible." - Simon Michie, Head of Cloud Services, Redcentric

Customer:
Redcentric

Industry:
Computer Services

Deployment country:
United Kingdom

Solution:
Flex System, Flex System x440, PureSystems, Cloud Computing, Enabling Business Flexibility, Energy Efficiency, Transforming Business, Virtualization, Virtualization - Server, Workload Management

Overview

Redcentric specializes in managed, hosted and internet service provision to a wide range of UK organizations. Redcentric employs more than 250 staff, generates more than £35 million in annual revenues, and operates from multiple UK and international locations and over ten data centers.

Business need:
Solution provider Redcentric’s data centers were almost full, halting its ability to continue to grow revenues. Redcentric looked for a way to increase capacity without expanding the physical footprint.

Solution:
Developed a comprehensive cloud-enabled service-based strategy, deploying IBM® Flex System™ with simplified, integrated infrastructure management and cloud service capabilities.

Benefits:
The same data center footprint supports more than 3,000 virtual servers at reduced energy and cooling costs, introduces multi-platform cloud capabilities, and enables new business opportunities.

Case Study

Redcentric specializes in managed, hosted and internet service provision to a wide range of UK organizations. Redcentric employs more than 250 staff, generates more than £35 million in annual revenues, and operates from multiple UK and international locations and over ten data centers.

As Redcentric continued to win more and more contracts, its data centers were rapidly filling up. The company’s traditional approach of dedicating each physical server to a specific customer or workload was predictably linear, and the relentless progress towards a full data center was significantly constraining Redcentric’s ability to sell new contracts.

Simon Michie, Head of Cloud Services at Redcentric, comments, “We run many UK data centers, and with long-term contracts in place and business volumes growing, we could see where we were heading. We knew that the ability to meet the demand for cloud-based services would be essential, yet the increase in capacity could not easily be met or sustained by our existing solutions. We wanted to transform our own infrastructure to provide cloud services to our customers, increase the flexibility and granularity of our offerings, and simultaneously increase the available capacity in our data centers.”

Redcentric spoke with Gartner and reviewed multiple vendor options, assessing service, technical capabilities and corporate strength. Based on a 360-degree view of the offerings, Redcentric selected IBM Flex System as the foundation for its transformed service infrastructure.

Simon Michie continues, “IBM Flex System technology made sense to Redcentric. With close to 1,000 core clients in multiple business sectors, we support every possible type of customer configuration, service or request. IBM Flex System enables Redcentric to meet customer requests for different operating systems, capacities and capabilities, and go out to market with sophisticated cloud-enabled offerings based on a secure, sophisticated and mature technology foundation.

“For example, we find that customers not only want IT infrastructure as a cloud service, they want operating systems and software applications as a service – even disaster recovery as a service. IBM Flex System gives Redcentric the ability to sell these services and, critically, in a manner that offers scalability as demand rises.”

Using a combination of the IBM Flex System and virtualization technologies from VMware, Redcentric has transformed its data centers. Each rack contains four fully populated IBM Flex System Enterprise Chassis, which can contain a total of 56 physical compute nodes, usually assigned individually to customers. The blades can support a wide range of Linux, Microsoft Windows, and IBM AIX® and IBM i operating systems, enabling Redcentric to meet specific client requests as well as deploying standardized services. By deploying up to 60 virtual servers on each blade, Redcentric is able to support more than 3,000 servers per rack, transforming the capacity of each data center.

John Roberts, Business Development Manager, comments, “IBM Flex System allows us to scale up very rapidly as customer demand and workload rises. In the past, specifying, procuring and deploying a new server might have taken up to six weeks. Rather than having to commit to rip-and-replace programs to meet rising demand, with IBM Flex System Redcentric has the ability to extend existing systems easily and in minutes. The fully integrated networking and system management services mean that we can create a new virtual server in less than a minute, matching supply and demand in a way that was not previously possible.”

IBM Flex System offers up to twice the application density in the same floor space, energy cost reductions of up to 40 percent, and reduced software licensing costs with up to 70 percent fewer cores needed than previous-generation systems. Redcentric has multiplied these benefits by hosting multiple servers on each physical system, optimizing each server’s configuration to meet their customers’ application requirements.

Additionally, IBM Flex System integrated management capabilities help to reduce administration costs by up to 50 percent, and cut system set-up costs by 66 percent.

John Roberts comments, “From a Managed Service Provider perspective the technical and cost benefits are only part of the story. Our customers entrust Redcentric with business-critical applications and services, and their executive boards must be totally confident of Redcentric’s capabilities. As part of their due diligence before placing a contract, our customers want to know how we deliver on our contractual Service Level Agreements. IBM is a globally recognized, established technology leader, and provides our customers with the assurance that Redcentric is the right managed service provider choice.”

The shift to cloud-enabled technologies represents a strategic shift for Redcentric. Customers that might have been nervous about a shared service provision take a very different attitude to cloud, and are hungry to outsource and out-task, creating significant new demand.

Simon Michie concludes, “IBM Flex System is helping us to prove to our customers that they can successfully manage business risk by using cloud services. Redcentric’s outstanding track record combined with the strength of the IBM brand helps to build credibility, reduce business risk and open up new market opportunities.

“Ultimately, the aim is to offer customers what they want, rapidly and at commercially attractive rates. IBM Flex System provides the scalability, flexibility and reliability to make that proposition possible.”

Products and services used

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

Hardware:
Flex System x440

Legal Information

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2012. IBM United Kingdom Limited, PO Box 41, North Harbour, Portsmouth, Hampshire PO6 3AU. Produced in the United Kingdom. July 2013. IBM, the IBM logo, ibm.com, AIX and IBM Flex System are trademarks of International Business Machines Corp., registered in many jurisdictions worldwide. Other product and service names might be trademarks of IBM or other companies. A current list of IBM trademarks is available on the web at “Copyright and trademark information” at: ibm.com/legal/copytrade.shtml. 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’s product, program or service may be used. Any functionally equivalent product, program or service may be used instead. All customer examples cited represent how some customers have used IBM products and the results they may have achieved. Actual environmental costs and performance characteristics will vary depending on individual customer configurations and conditions. IBM hardware products are manufactured from new parts, or new and used parts. In some cases, the hardware product may not be new and may have been previously installed. Regardless, IBM warranty terms apply. This publication is for general guidance only. Photographs may show design models.