TelecityGroup Finland finds cloud is the way to grow

Offering smarter customer services with help from IBM and ICT Group Oy

Published on 20-Dec-2012

"The IBM Flex System Manager interface is so intuitive that it feels like we’ve been using it for a lot longer than we have. Because our IT team can manage all server and storage resources through a single interface, we’ve reduced the IT management workload by 30 percent, freeing our IT team to focus on more valuable activities." - Kalle Koski, Data Centre Manager, TelecityGroup Finland

Customer:
TelecityGroup Finland

Industry:
Computer Services

Deployment country:
Finland

Solution:
Flex System, Flex System x240, IGF: IT Financing - IBM HW, PureSystems, Business Resiliency, Cloud Computing, High Availability , Server Consolidation, Storage Consolidation, Virtualization

IBM Business Partner:
ICT Group Oy

Overview

With 60 employees and an annual turnover of $19 million, TelecityGroup Finland is one of the leading managed service providers (MSP) in Finland, specializing in managed and co-location services, consulting, and support.

Business need:
Leading Finnish managed service provider TelecityGroup Finland wanted to support business growth and offer its customers the freedom to provision their own virtual environments.

Solution:
Implemented a private cloud based on an IBM® Flex System™ solution with nodes running Citrix XenServer and connected to an IBM XIV® Storage System.

Benefits:
A self-service web portal empowers customers to provision their own servers and storage online. Expected to accommodate business growth over ten years. Reduced maintenance workload by 30 percent.

Case Study

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

With 60 employees and an annual turnover of $19 million, TelecityGroup Finland is one of the leading managed service providers (MSP) in Finland, specializing in managed and co-location services, consulting, and support.

Gaining capacity for growth
TelecityGroup Finland wanted to gain the ability to grow its business, but its legacy systems were too complex and costly to scale out effectively. The company’s most popular services are cloud hosting – including file hosting, virtual desktop services, and virtual server hosting.

Kalle Koski, Data Centre Manager at TelecityGroup Finland, explains: “As the number of cloud customers we serve grew, it became more difficult to optimize the utilization of our physical server and storage resources when provisioning new environments. Additionally, exploding volumes of customer data were rapidly pushing our legacy servers and storage towards capacity. We realized that if we did not develop a cost-effective way to scale out our environment, we might be forced to turn away new business.”

Following a full review of the existing infrastructure, TelecityGroup Finland determined that it could greatly improve the manageability and scalability of its environment by refreshing its hardware with an enterprise-class private cloud solution. As the company’s customers use Citrix XenClient to connect to their virtual environments, it was vital that the new solution was compatible with XenServer hypervisor technology.

Increasing access granularity
TelecityGroup Finland also wanted to empower its customers to provision and de-provision storage independently. “In the past, we used the iSCSI network protocol to facilitate data transfers,” says Koski. “This protocol did not support the security features we needed to enhance our customer services.

“We wanted to move to a Fibre Channel storage network that would support a fine granularity of access to storage management options – offering our customers the ability to securely provision storage resources themselves rather than by calling our customer service department.”

Choosing a scalable solution
After visiting the IBM Mainz Briefing center in Germany to see a demonstration of Citrix XenServer on IBM Flex System and IBM XIV technology, TelecityGroup Finland engaged IBM to design and deploy a private cloud infrastructure. IBM Global Financing facilitated the cloud solution by enabling TelecityGroup Finland to spread payments over 36 months, with no payments until after a six month deferral. Engaging IBM Global Financing allowed TelecityGroup Finland to accelerate the implementation of the project.

“We were extremely impressed by the straightforward scalability of the Flex System nodes and XIV storage system,” says Koski. “Today, when we need to add new storage or compute capacity, we can simply connect an additional Flex System node or XIV system, and the system will do the bulk of the configuration work automatically. Whenever we do need to perform a manual configuration task, IBM Flex System Manager™ software enables us to manage both software and hardware resources from a single interface.”

Working with IBM and IBM Business Partner ICT Group, the company implemented seven IBM Flex System x240 nodes, each with 256 GB of main memory. These are connected through a Fibre Channel SAN to an IBM XIV Storage System; with an IBM System Storage® DCS3700 array functioning as a high-speed backup and tier-two storage utility.

Koski comments: “Thanks to the modular design of the Flex System and support from ICT Group, the implementation of the private cloud environment went very smoothly – every stage was completed on time and within budget.”

Reducing IT management workload
Since installing its IBM solution, TelecityGroup Finland has experienced a dramatic improvement in system performance and ease of manageability.

“The IBM Flex System Manager interface is so intuitive that it feels like we’ve been using it for a lot longer than we have,” says Koski. “Because our IT team can manage all server and storage resources through a single interface, we’ve reduced the IT management workload by 30 percent, freeing our IT team to focus on more valuable activities. We have also experienced a 20 percent boost in our system performance – translating into a better service to customers.”

Secure future in the cloud
TelecityGroup Finland’s private cloud solution has enabled the high level of security the company needs to continue to ensure the resiliency and high availability of its hosting services.

“Our data is our business,” says Koski, “Because of this, it was vital that we chose a storage solution that would enable us to protect our mission-critical customer data. The IBM XIV delivers on this, raising a support ticket with IBM automatically whenever the system requires maintenance. We have been extremely impressed with the excellent level of service from IBM, and the robustness of the XIV platform.”

By switching from standard storage disks on iSCSI to IBM XIV on a Fibre Channel SAN, TelecityGroup Finland has gained better network isolation than was possible in the past, enabling a finer granularity of network access, and greater overall security. Building on this functionality, the company is developing a self-service portal for customers.

Koski comments: “When deployed, our web portal will give our customers the ability to self-provision services on multiple different servers, and choose between varying grades of service level agreements depending on their individual requirements. This new functionality will help us win new customers while boosting satisfaction among our existing clients.”

Looking ahead
Working with IBM, TelecityGroup Finland has gained the capacity to grow its business in a private cloud, expected to serve the company’s needs for at least the next ten years.

“We are already planning the deployment of a second Flex System and XIV array at another of our Helsinki data centers,” concludes Koski. “By continuing our strong collaboration with IBM, we are well-placed to further improve performance and develop our service offering as the business grows.”

Products and services used

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

Hardware:
Flex System Manager, Flex System x240, Storage: DCS3700, Storage: XIV

Operating system:
Linux

Legal Information

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2012 IBM Corporation Systems and Technology Group Route 100 Somers, NY 10589 Produced in the United States of America December 2012 IBM, the IBM logo, ibm.com, IBM Flex System, IBM Flex System Manager, System Storage and XIV 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. 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.