Upgrade to billiger.de website delivers a win-win outcome

Better end-user experience with lower operating costs and reduced complexity

Published on 17-May-2013

"The standardized server infrastructure substantially speeds up the set-up and deployment of new systems. This ensures we can react quickly to changing market conditions." - Michael Crone, System Administrator, solute GmbH

Customer:
billiger.de

Industry:
Computer Services

Deployment country:
Germany

Solution:
Business Resiliency, Connectivity - High availability, Connectivity and Integration, Enabling Business Flexibility, Energy Efficiency, High Availability , Virtualization, Virtualization - Network, Virtualization - Server

IBM Business Partner:
NetFactory GmbH

Overview

billiger.de is the leading German-speaking price comparison website, holding an impressive catalogue of 50 million prices for over 1.5 million product types. The German word “billiger” translates literally as “cheaper”. To maintain market position in this challenging segment, solute GmbH, the website owner, recognizes the need to continually enhance the overall user experience and improve the quality of search results delivered.

Business need:
The leading German-language price comparison website, billiger.de, needed to increase server performance and network throughput to improve end-user experience and lower operational costs.

Solution:
IBM Business Partner, NetFactory GmbH, proposed a solution based on 24 IBM® BladeCenter® HS23 servers to improve performance, exploit virtualization, simplify system and network management, and reduce data center sprawl and inefficiency. The new servers are connected by an ultra-low latency 10G IBM switch to further increase application performance.

Benefits:
Reduced server density. Increased availability and reliability. Improved systems performance. Decreased operational costs. Delivered ROI within two years.

Case Study

billiger.de is the leading German-speaking price comparison website, holding an impressive catalogue of 50 million prices for over 1.5 million product types. The German word “billiger” translates literally as “cheaper”. To maintain market position in this challenging segment, solute GmbH, the website owner, recognizes the need to continually enhance the overall user experience and improve the quality of search results delivered. Based in Karlsruhe with additional facilities in Bulgaria, solute GmbH employs 130 people and, as well as operating billiger.de, the company also provides IT services to corporate clients.

Its software designers undertook a program to develop new algorithms for the billiger.de platform. The objective was to deliver faster response times together with greater search result relevance. It quickly became clear that the full end-user benefits offered by these algorithms would only be realized by replacing the company’s existing server portfolio with up-to-date, flexible systems that would also enable the deployment of virtualization into the environment.

solute’s IT experts believed that this update would significantly enhance the user experience by addressing the sprawl and inefficiency that characterized parts of the current environment. They also saw, however, the very attractive opportunity to substantially reduce operating costs and complexity.

Finding the right solution
Events moved quickly after the project was given approval. Under a formal tender process, solute GmbH selected an IBM offer ahead of a competitive bid. IBM Business Partner, Karlsruhe-based NetFactory GmbH, fronted the bid which proposed an integrated and standardized solution of 24 IBM BladeCenter HS23 servers running Debian Linux. These would replace some individual rack servers from different vendors in the current environment that were limiting performance, adding complexity, and proving expensive to manage.

The new solution is designed to consolidate workloads, exploit virtualization, improve energy efficiency, increase performance and provide dynamic capacity to handle increased demand. The IBM BladeCenter HS23 server family supports high bandwidth 10G connectivity for virtual switches and virtual machines, and comes with IBM VMready® technology. It boasts a wide range of operational features that provide the optimum blend of outstanding performance, scalability, flexible networking, and ease-of-management, as well as excellent energy efficiency to reduce running costs.

Boosting business agility
By speeding-up system connectivity from 1G to 10G, the new IBM BladeCenter servers improve throughput by a factor of ten, while the time required to create copies of the virtual systems is drastically reduced to offer unbeatable business agility. “Scalability and easy extensibility are extremely important to us, not least because we want to grow into new markets abroad,” says Crone, System Administrator, solute GmbH. “The standardized server infrastructure substantially speeds up the set-up and deployment of new systems. This ensures we can react quickly to changing market conditions.”

The new solution also enhances solute’s networking performance and has enabled the deployment of more powerful back-end software that takes advantage of the fast low-latency links between the servers.

“Our application developers are very happy with the increased I/O capacity,” says Crone, “They created a whole new search component based on a distributed design that performs very well on the new solution, putting us clearly ahead of the competition in this area.”

Reduced complexity, simplified management, increased availability
The new solution has also ticked a lot of operational boxes, which has pleased solute GmbH. Standardizing around a state-of-the-art design which is virtualization-ready has greatly reduced the complexity of system management. There are also far fewer network interfaces, cables, and clutter in the data center, while the integrated configuration management of networking devices has greatly simplified the overall solution management.

With IBM VMready software, solute’s IT administrators can flexibly move virtual machines across different host systems without worrying about network configuration. The IBM Systems Director tool, which is pre-loaded with the solution, gives deep insights into system status and configuration, making it very valuable for the IT team to accelerate troubleshooting.

These improvements have all made positive impacts on the workload of the IT team and freed up their time to focus on high priority tasks. In addition, the IBM BladeCenter solution also integrates automated high availability and reliability – critical features that were previously implemented manually.

Cutting costs
solute GmbH is very clear about the cost reductions expected from its new server and integrated fast network deployment. The physical footprint in the data center improved performance density, and increased computing performance per rack unit. This also leads to significant savings in power consumption and reduced cooling requirements. Crone is delighted with the cost savings: “Taking into account all investment and operating costs, including power, cooling, data center space, and so on, we expect a return on investment of the IBM BladeCenter solution inside two years,” he says.

Into the future
The company is convinced that the project has given a competitive boost to its billiger.de website. “We have implemented a sophisticated new back-end software architecture based on cloud concepts for our important search functionality,” notes Crone. “We expect a significant performance boost from this new solution that will translate into improved satisfaction for our customers.”

Products and services used

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

Hardware:
BladeCenter, BladeCenter HS23, System Networking, System Networking: IBM BladeCenter Virtual Fabric 10Gb Switch Module

Software:
IBM Systems Director Editions

Legal Information

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2013 IBM Germany GmbH IBM-Allee 1 71139 Ehningen Deutschland ibm.com/de IBM Austria Obere Donaustrasse 95 1020 Wien ibm.com/at IBM Switzerland Vulkanstrasse 106 8010 Zürich ibm.com/ch Produced in Germany May 2013 IBM, the IBM logo, ibm.com, BladeCenter and VMready 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. IBM and NetFactory GmbH are separate companies and each is responsible for its own products. Neither IBM nor NetFactory GmbH makes any warranties, express or implied, concerning the other’s products. 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.