Fortnox

Ramping up profitability by slashing IT costs per customer by 50 percent

Published on 09-Jan-2014

"By choosing IBM Flex System and managed services with Office IT- Partner, we have succeeded in slashing our IT cost per customer by a remarkable 50 percent." - Mikael Folkesson, Development and Operations Manager, Fortnox

Customer:
Fortnox

Industry:
Computer Services

Deployment country:
Sweden

Solution:
Flex System, Flex System running hypervisor - VMware, Flex System x240, PureSystems, Storage: Storwize V7000, Cloud Computing, Enabling Business Flexibility, High Availability , Infrastructure as a Service, SaaS

IBM Business Partner:
Office IT-Partner Växjö

Overview

Founded in 2001 and headquartered in Växjö, Sweden, Fortnox AB is a leading provider of internet-based applications for businesses, associations and accounting and auditing firms. As the fastest-growing provider of cloud-based ERP solutions in Sweden, Fortnox currently employs approximately 87 people and achieved annual sales of SEK 57.9 million (USD 8.75 million) in 2012.

Business need:
Fortnox provides internet-based applications targeted at small businesses. With cost-efficiency a priority for many clients, the company seeks internal savings to maintain ultra-competitive pricing.

Solution:
The company succeeded in dramatically cutting IT costs by moving its applications to a highly available IBM® Flex System™, managed by IBM Business Partner Office IT-Partner Växjö.

Benefits:
Cut IT cost per customer by 50 percent. Introduced self-service provisioning that accelerates the creation of new servers from days to minutes, boosting agility. Built-in scalability enables growth.

Case Study

To read a Swedish version of this case study, please click here

Founded in 2001 and headquartered in Växjö, Sweden, Fortnox AB is a leading provider of internet-based applications for businesses, associations and accounting and auditing firms. As the fastest-growing provider of cloud-based ERP solutions in Sweden, Fortnox currently employs approximately 87 people and achieved annual sales of SEK 57.9 million (USD 8.75 million) in 2012.

Identifying a niche in the market
Fortnox has found success in targeting smaller enterprises, which often include start-ups. Internet-based applications can benefit these start-ups by enabling them to avoid the often prohibitive investment costs required to build up their own infrastructure. However, this choice is only a viable option if costs are kept low while performance and service levels stay high.

Mikael Folkesson, Development and Operations Manager at Fortnox elaborates, “Since Fortnox was founded, we has enjoyed enviable growth, and much of that is down to capturing the start-up sector of the market. But in order to continue our success, we need to keep prices competitive, so we are constantly looking for internal savings that we can pass onto our customers.”

One area where the company saw an opportunity to reduce cost was the IT infrastructure supporting its applications. Mikael Folkesson explains, “We were relying on a very expensive infrastructure-as-a-service solution that gave us little control. For example, if we wanted to provision a new server, we needed to wait for it to be set up by the external provider, which could take a few days. As our company expanded, we realized that our existing approach was unwieldy and could potentially restrict our growth.”

Combining greater control with low effort
Following a visit to see the innovative IBM Flex System in action at the IBM Client Centre in Hursley, UK, Fortnox chose to migrate its IT environment to a platform based on this new technology, and enter into a managed services contract with IBM Business Partner Office IT-Partner Växjö.

“The offering from Office IT-Partner Växjö, based on the IBM Flex System, appealed to us because of its flexibility,” comments Mikael Folkesson. “The solution would allow us to provision servers and storage ourselves, while Office IT-Partner would handle the management of the rest of the solution. In our view, this gives us just the right degree of control, unleashing greater business agility but not tying us up with IT administration and fixed infrastructure costs.”

Decimating business risk
At the time of the implementation, Fortnox was delivering applications as a service to over 60,000 users – a number that has since grown to 70,000 –and needed to plan the migration carefully to minimize disruption to its customers.

“With Office IT-Partner’s help, we devised a step-by-step migration plan to move data to the IBM Flex System, which went off without a hitch,” says Mikael Folkesson. “Flex System has proved astonishingly easy to work with, and every stage of the migration went accordingly to our planned timeline.”

The company’s entire IT environment is now hosted on two IBM Flex System chassis, populated with a total of 18 IBM Flex System x240 compute nodes (based on high-performance Intel processors), and integrated IBM Storwize® V7000 storage. The two systems are mirrored, enabling failover in the unlikely event of one failing.

Mikael Folkesson adds, “Previously, all our data was stored within a single system, with no replication, meaning there was a very real risk of data loss in the event of a disaster. With the IBM Flex System solution, we are working towards a two-hour failover time with zero data loss, hugely boosting our business resilience and giving us real peace of mind.”

Moving fast on opportunities
The environment is virtualized with VMware software, divided into approximately 80 virtual servers. 20 of these are database servers, each of which can support up to 5,000 customers. With self-service provisioning of new virtual servers for both databases and applications, the company enjoys much greater control and scalability, since new servers can quickly be provisioned when user demand increases.

“In place of a more static method of expanding our environment, where server provisioning was handled externally and could take up to a few days, we now have a much more dynamic, agile approach,” states Mikael Folkesson. “This allows us to seize opportunities and respond to end users faster, which is a must in today’s rapidly evolving marketplace if you do not want to get left behind.”

The IBM Flex System has proved a more efficient platform for Fortnox’s IT environment, offering headroom for escalating demand and enabling easy scalability, as described by Mikael Folkesson, “Monitoring the Flex System, we see that we have much more headroom on our new servers than we did on the old ones. This gives us confidence that we have the horsepower in place to handle greater demands on our IT systems.

“Pay-as-you-grow pricing means that we can closely match capacity to demand, without sending our IT costs through the roof. And because the Flex System is designed to scale easily and non-disruptively, we know that we will be able to grow without any impact on service to our customers, which is our highest priority.”

Staying competitive with leaner IT
As a result of the project, Fortnox has seen IT cost per customer decrease significantly, boosting profitability and ensuring that the company can continue to offer competitive pricing for even the smallest businesses.

Mikael Folkesson concludes: “By choosing IBM Flex System and managed services with Office IT- Partner, we have succeeded in slashing our IT cost per customer by a remarkable 50 percent. With the ultra-stable, efficient Flex System behind us, Fortnox can continue to lead the market in providing exceptional quality internet-based applications at competitive prices.”

Removing barriers to growth
With space to slot additional compute nodes into each of its Flex System chassis, Fortnox has built-in room to grow. Mikael Folkesson says, “The real wow factor of the Flex System is the ease of expansion – we have seen for ourselves how simple it is to plug in a compute node and go!”

For more information
To learn more about IBM solutions, contact your IBM sales representative or IBM Business Partner, or visit us at: ibm.com/flex

To learn more about products, services and solutions from Office IT-Partner Växjö, please visit: www.officeitpartner.se

To learn more about Fortnox, please visit: www.fortnox.se

Products and services used

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

Hardware:
Flex System, Flex System running hypervisor - VMware, Flex System x240, Storage, Storage: Storwize V7000

Legal Information

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2014. IBM Svenska AB, 164 92 Stockholm, Sweden. Produced in Sweden. January 2014. IBM, the IBM logo, ibm.com, IBM Flex System, PureSystems and Storwize 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 . 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. It is the user’s responsibility to evaluate and verify the operation of any other products or programs with IBM products and programs. 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.