Alchemy Systems takes service delivery to the cloud

Supporting efficient operations with IBM technology

Published on 28-Feb-2013

"Partnering with IBM to develop a cloud infrastructure has proven to be a hugely successful undertaking, and one that has fuelled considerable business growth in recent years. We consider the engagement with IBM to be worth some £500,000 to us." - Nathan Mills, Managing Director, Alchemy Systems

Customer:
Alchemy Systems

Industry:
Computer Services

Deployment country:
United Kingdom

Solution:
Business Resiliency, Cloud Computing, Enabling Business Flexibility, High Availability , Virtualization, Virtualization - Server, Virtualization - Storage

Overview

Alchemy Systems specializes in providing enterprise IT solutions, services and support to small and medium businesses in the UK. Boasting more than 15 years of industry experience, the company acts as a single-source provider for IT business solutions that span the breadth of an organization’s computing and communications requirements.

Business need:
Alchemy Systems identified an opportunity to deliver greater value to its clients by launching a range of hosted cloud services, and sought a reliable, flexible platform to support the new initiative.

Solution:
Developed a versatile cloud platform, based on virtualized IBM® System x® 3650 class servers and the IBM Storwize® V7000, that supports a variety of hosted services, offered on a full SaaS basis.

Benefits:
Supported considerable business growth, estimated to be worth approximately £500,000. Delivers considerable ease-of-management, enabling a team of four people to manage some 2,500 virtual servers.

Case Study

Alchemy Systems specializes in providing enterprise IT solutions, services and support to small and medium businesses in the UK. Boasting more than 15 years of industry experience, the company acts as a single-source provider for IT business solutions that span the breadth of an organization’s computing and communications requirements.

Moving into the cloud market
A core focus of Alchemy Systems’ business strategy is to deliver solutions that are truly tailored to customer needs. The company identified an opportunity to deliver even greater value to its customers and grow its business by moving into the hosted services market.

Nathan Mills, Managing Director of Alchemy Systems, explains: “Our client base is predominantly made up of [small and medium enterprises] SMEs, who often find it challenging to devote the resources and effort needed to maintain an IT infrastructure on their own. We recognized that there was huge potential to help these companies improve efficiencies and save money by introducing an end-to-end managed cloud service.”

Trusting in IBM technology
To support its new cloud service offerings, Alchemy Systems needed to build a highly flexible server and storage platform from the ground up, which could be scaled up or down to meet fluctuating demand. Strong performance and reliability were also key requirements: the company needed to guarantee that the hosted infrastructure could support 24/7 operations for customers, no matter what.

“We looked at options from a number of providers, and IBM really stood out,” states Nathan Mills. “Their team had excellent technical knowledge, and took the time to work out a solution that ticked all of the boxes for us. And when it came to quality, IBM hands down offered the best set of products that delivered the performance and scalability we wanted.”

Building a cloud platform
Alchemy Systems worked with IBM to design a cloud-hosting environment based on IBM System x3560 class servers, featuring powerful Intel Xeon processors, and the IBM Storwize V7000, with tertiary storage provided by the IBM System Storage® DS3540.

The multi-tenanted cloud platform is virtualized with VMware vSphere – the first operating system specifically designed for cloud deployments. vSphere transforms physical hardware into a shared, virtualized environment, allowing Alchemy Systems to run approximately 2,500 virtual machines as secure, self-contained environments on 14 IBM System x servers.

Selecting the IBM Storwize V7000 as its new strategic platform for data storage builds further flexibility into Alchemy Systems’ hosting infrastructure. The virtualized storage environment provides the company with much more efficient utilization of disk space, allowing it to support more client systems with fewer physical resources.

This fully virtualized server and storage infrastructure serves as the basis for a range of cloud services, including hosted desktop, email and backup services. These are offered on a full SaaS basis, with Alchemy Systems taking on complete management of customer systems.

Reducing management effort and boosting flexibility
Thanks to the flexibility and ease-of-management enabled by the virtualized IBM infrastructure, the company is able to guarantee smooth running of thousands of virtual machines for hundreds of clients with an administrative team of just four people.

Nathan Mills elaborates: “The virtualization model allows us to do so much more with fewer physical resources and less effort. If we were running an equivalent amount of physical servers, we would probably need ten times as many engineers to maintain the systems.

“Now that we have added managed services to our portfolio, guaranteeing easy, effective management of our hosted computing infrastructure has become a top priority. By choosing IBM systems, we have been able to improve administrative productivity by 30 percent, which means that we can support a larger customer base without hiring additional staff or compromising on service quality.”

The versatility of IBM technology makes it easy for Alchemy to meet the demands of a growing client base, and rapidly provision new resources as needed. Nathan Mills explains: “With virtual servers we can allocate exactly the right amount of resources to each customer. If their business grows we can increase capacity on the fly, allowing us to offer a completely scalable service to our customers. This flexibility is critical to us as we continue to add more clients to our hosted cloud platform.”

Peace of mind for clients
Underpinning its new cloud environment with trusted IBM technology provides Alchemy Systems with an ideal base for growing its managed services offerings. Being backed by the IBM brand is a considerable advantage for the company, as clients feel more secure knowing that their business systems are supported by robust IBM hardware.

“For our clients, reliability and availability are prime concerns,” says Nathan Mills. “Choosing IBM as the strategic platform for our cloud environment ensures that we are able to absolutely deliver on these requirements, and guarantee top levels of service for our clients.”

Fueling business growth
With IBM hardware at the heart of its new cloud platform, Alchemy Systems has been able to cost-effectively broaden the scope of its enterprise IT offerings and rapidly deliver new services to customers.

Nathan Mills concludes: “Partnering with IBM to develop a cloud infrastructure has proven to be a hugely successful undertaking, and one that has fuelled considerable business growth in recent years. We consider the engagement with IBM to be worth some £500,000 to us. We have gained a solid platform that we look forward to building on as we continue to evolve our service offerings, and reach out to more customers.”

Products and services used

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

Hardware:
Storage: DS3400, Storage: Storwize V7000, System x: System x3650 M3

Legal Information

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2013 IBM United Kingdom Limited PO Box 41, North Harbour Portsmouth Hampshire, PO6 3AU Produced in the United Kingdom February 2013 IBM, the IBM logo, ibm.com, Storwize, System Storage and System x 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: www.ibm.com/legal/copytrade.shtml. Intel, Intel logo, Intel Inside, Intel Inside logo, Intel Centrino, Intel Centrino logo, Celeron, Intel Xeon, Intel SpeedStep, Itanium, and Pentium are trademarks or registered trademarks of Intel Corporation or its subsidiaries in the United States and other countries. This document is current as of the initial date of publication and may be changed by IBM at any time. Not all offerings are available in every country in which IBM operates. The client examples cited are presented for illustrative purposes only. Actual performance results may vary depending on specific configurations and operating conditions. THE INFORMATION IN THIS DOCUMENT IS PROVIDED “AS IS” WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING WITHOUT ANY WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND ANY WARRANTY OR CONDITION OF NON-INFRINGEMENT. IBM products are warranted according to the terms and conditions of the agreements under which they are provided.