Databalance empowers clients with self-service cloud provisioning

Applying Smarter Computing principles to redefine the customer experience

Published on 27 Nov 2012

"Rolling out IBM SmartCloud Provisioning has really been a win-win situation for both us and our customers. While they feel empowered to make changes to their environments as and when they want them, we have cut labor costs by an impressive 60 percent, with our employees saving between 35 and 40 hours every month." - Rob Blom, Chief Executive Officer, Databalance

Customer:
Databalance B.V.

Industry:
Computer Services

Deployment country:
Netherlands

Solution:
Business Resiliency, Cloud Computing, High Availability , SmartCloud - Solutions, Smarter Computing, Virtualization, Virtualization - Server, Virtualization - Storage

Overview

Founded in 2001, Dutch company Databalance B.V. provides datacenter hosting services under the slogan ‘always available’. Offering high availability, backup and replication solutions, the company aims to help customers ensure rapid and effective recovery in the event of a disaster. Databalance operates datacenters in Nieuwkuijk and Utrecht in the Netherlands, employs 18 people and achieves an annual turnover of €4 million.

Business need:
Dutch cloud services provider Databalance wanted to respond to customer demand for greater control over their environments, even outside of business hours.

Solution:
Provided self-service capabilities to customers with the implementation of IBM® SmartCloud™ Provisioning to manage a virtualized IBM BladeCenter®, Power Systems™ and Storwize® V7000 landscape.

Benefits:
Decreases labor costs by 60 percent and saves employees an estimated 35-40 hours every month. Achieves over 99.99 percent uptime. Offers annual savings of €4,000 on storage cooling costs.

Case Study

To read a Dutch version of this case study, click here.

Founded in 2001, Dutch company Databalance B.V. provides datacenter hosting services under the slogan ‘always available’. Offering high availability, backup and replication solutions, the company aims to help customers ensure rapid and effective recovery in the event of a disaster. Databalance operates datacenters in Nieuwkuijk and Utrecht in the Netherlands, employs 18 people and achieves an annual turnover of €4 million.

Databalance’s server and storage environment is entirely based on IBM solutions, including a virtualized IBM BladeCenter HX5 environment, and Power 520 servers running the IBM i operating system.

Seeing an opportunity
Previously, if the company’s customers wanted to make changes to their hosted environment, they needed to call the Databalance helpdesk, and wait for an employee to pick the job up. Moreover, with some clients outside the Netherlands in different time zones, requests could come in outside Dutch working hours.

Rob Blom, Chief Executive Officer at Databalance, says: “Our existing IBM environment was serving us very well when it came to offering customers the high levels of availability and performance they were looking for. The issue was that any changes or requests for further capacity needed to come through our helpdesk and were then handled manually by our employees. This meant peaks and troughs in demand could affect how quickly we responded to our customers.

“This was a problem for our international clients in particular,” continues Blom. “Since their working hours did not always correspond with ours, we either needed to have an employee working outside standard working hours or to find an alternative to ensure rapid response to change requests.”

While seeking a solution to this issue, Databalance seized the opportunity to look more closely at what its customers wanted. Blom explains: “At Databalance, we pride ourselves on giving customers what they ask for. In this case, we recognized a demand for greater control over provisioning of resources, and began looking for a solution that would enable self-service provisioning. We estimated that approximately 70 percent of our target market would be interested in this service.”

Selecting IBM SmartCloud Provisioning
Databalance chose to deploy IBM SmartCloud Provisioning, a low-cost, low-touch infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) solution that offers the company a comprehensive service management foundation. The implementation was carried out in-house, with two consultants from IBM helping to ensure a rapid and hassle-free roll-out.

“We wanted a set of tools that could help us manage our cloud computing platform based on IBM technology. While we had come across packages like this before, they were either too expensive or did not offer the functionality we were seeking,” comments Blom. “Then IBM SmartCloud Provisioning came along, and proved to be exactly what we were looking for. It was also designed to be deployed extremely quickly – we were up running in just one week, a key advantage in the fast-moving hosting services industry.”

Increasing customer control
Deploying IBM SmartCloud Provisioning to manage Databalance’s fully virtualized IBM server and storage platform enables the company to offer self-service provisioning to customers via an online portal. Databalance configures standard sets of templates for customers to choose from, and they can then use the online facility to provision additional virtual machines within just minutes, a huge improvement.

“In the past, it took us about a day to set up the initial environment for a new client,” says Blom. “The speed at which we responded to subsequent requests for further capacity depended on how busy our help desk was. Now, with IBM SmartCloud Provisioning, once the preliminary preparation stage is complete, our clients can log in directly and dynamically adjust their environment to match requirements. They can provision new servers in just minutes, with a maximum waiting time of just 15 minutes.”

By handing customers some control over their own environments, Databalance both transforms the customer experience and decreases its own labor costs, as Blom describes: “Rolling out IBM SmartCloud Provisioning has really been a win-win situation for both us and our customers. While they feel empowered to make changes to their environments as and when they want them, we have cut labor costs by an impressive 60 percent, with our employees saving between 35 and 40 hours every month. We can redirect these savings to focus on further enhancing customer service.”

Leadership storage performance
Databalance also implemented three IBM Storwize V7000 disk systems, all with between 120 and 140 TB capacity. In each case, the company chose to deploy 300 GB of IBM Enterprise Solid-State Drive (SSD) disks alongside the SAS drives delivered as standard with the Storwize V7000, providing two tiers of storage without the need for extra management effort. IBM System Storage® Easy Tier® technology built into the Storwize V7000 automatically migrates frequently-accessed data to the higher-performing SSDs to constantly optimize the price-performance ratio.

“Again, we were able to handle the implementation of the IBM Storwize V7000 disk system ourselves, this time without any help from IBM at all – in fact, it was so easy anyone could do it!” comments Blom. “Since installing the solid-state drives we have seen a 20-percent increase in disk I/O, which has had a huge impact on the time taken for overnight batch processing. Some of our clients running SAP and Microsoft SQL environments have recently carried out tests and discovered that virtually all latency issues have been eliminated.”

Boosting resiliency and cost-effectiveness
The company uses the Storwize V7000 disk systems to replicate its virtual environment, enabling almost real-time recovery in the event of a disaster. The ability to connect other storage systems to the Storwize offers a single point of control – significantly cutting down on time spent on maintenance – and allows Databalance to capitalize on existing investments. The company has also found that its new storage infrastructure requires a lot less cooling, contributing to a low total cost of ownership.

“Our entire IBM environment has proved itself unmatched in terms of availability, achieving uptime levels of over 99.99 percent,” says Blom. “But it gives us great peace of mind to know that the IBM Storwize V7000 can ensure near-immediate recovery in the unlikely event of a disaster, meaning our customers should not even notice it. We estimate that the Storwize V7000 is up to ten times easier to manage than our previous storage infrastructure, allowing our employees to focus their time on higher-value work. It also requires significantly less cooling, saving us an estimated €4,000 annually.”

Blom concludes: “We feel that building our cloud services environment using IBM SmartCloud Provisioning and fully virtualized IBM BladeCenter, Power Systems and Storwize technology has placed Databalance in a strong competitive position. The IBM solution helps us deliver exceptionally reliable and high-performing computing resources as and when the customer needs them. This makes us the ideal partner for companies who want to enjoy the benefits of outsourcing their environments while maintaining as much direct control as they wish.”

Smarter Computing: The IT Infrastructure of a Smarter Planet
By selecting IBM SmartCloud Provisioning, Databalance can capture new markets by offering cloud services via a self-service portal to customers who want greater control of their environments. It enables better management of cross-platform virtualization by providing a single pane of glass for all components, with employees saving valuable time that can be re-deployed elsewhere. The IBM Storwize V7000 disk system helps Databalance manage huge volumes of customer data by automatically prioritizing tasks and moving frequently-accessed information to higher-performing solid-state drives for optimal performance.

Components

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

Hardware:
BladeCenter H Chassis, BladeCenter HX5, Power 520 Express, Power Systems, Power Systems running i, Storage, Storage: Storwize V7000

Software:
IBM SmartCloud Provisioning

Legal Information

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2012 IBM Nederland BV Johan Huizingalaan 765 P.O. Box 9999 1066 VH Amsterdam Netherlands Produced in the NetherlandsNovember 2012 IBM, the IBM logo, ibm.com, BladeCenter, Easy Tier, Power, Power Systems, SmartCloud, Storwize and System Storage are trademarks of International Business Machines Corporation, registered in many jurisdictions worldwide. A current list of other 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’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.

Showcase your unique capabilities