Data center services or outsourcing: what to choose

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What is more profitable: to purchase new equipment, rent computing power in a data center or to move an entire infrastructure to a cloud? “Capital AED” together with IBS DataFort’s support has moved their crucial IT systems to the cloud. Roman Kadyrov, director of the IT-infrastructure, Alexander Lyubochko, director of the department of development and support of information systems of the collection agency “Capital AED” and Vladislav Lantukh, CEO of IBS DataFort.

 

CNews: What is the structure of “Capital AED”?

Roman Kadyrov: “Capital AED” was founded in 2007. Today, our company has a specific structure – head office in Moscow, call-center in Tomsk with more than 200 employees and around 40 regional departments. In total, we have around 400 employees.

 

CNews: What was the IT-Infrastructure of “Capital AED” before they began to collaborate with IBS DataFort? What was the reason for moving the infrastructure to the cloud?

Roman Kadyrov: Before we moved our infrastructure into the cloud, it was very much divided. For example, some of the call-center’s equipment is located directly on its territory, the communication channels of the operator went through Moscow, and then connected back to equipment in Tomsk. Part of the system for call-center has been moved to the data center. There was a CRM-system in IBS DataFort data center. The equipment responsible for the availability of communication channels of the regional units was located in the head office. This led to the fact that the failure of any infrastructure element at the head office would invalidate the work of regional divisions.

The decision to transfer the infrastructure to the outsourcer’s data center was adopted in the December 2014. As it usually happens in such cases, it was due to the fact that some new business tasks have appeared that require appropriate solutions. We had to introduce two new platforms – Genesys for automation of call-center and LuxBase (Collection CRM).

Alexander Lyubochko: We have considered possibility of buying equipment, renting it, or moving to cloud. Final decision was made because of economic reasons – decision was made at the end of 2014, When US dollar exchange rate has spiked over the roof. We understood that moving our structure to the cloud – is a commercial necessity.

 

CNews: What were your criteria when you were choosing criteria? Why did you choose IBS DataFort?

Roman Kadyrov: We have opened a tender and considered 3 proposals, including from IBS DataFort. One of the companies could not provide us with the necessary power, so we have rejected its proposal. The choice between other 2 was affected by the specifics of our business – we work 7 days a week, 20 hours a day, and with the implementation of the project we had ensure the continuity of the old and new infrastructure. After all, in addition to the basic systems, which I have mentioned above, we use, electronic document management system, accounting system and solutions for data cleansing. Also we are personal data operator, so we have very high demands on the transmission channel and equipment protection. Here IBS DataFort was out of competition – this company has all necessary resources to ensure personal data protection.

Alexander Lyubochko:  We made sure that IBS DataFort offer is valid until January 31st, 2016; prices are fixed in rubles and will not be changed. Then again, we counted up everything and found that the cost of renting infrastructure for a year is equal to the amount that we would have to spend at once to buy our own equipment, if we made this decision. In the current economic situation, annual rent was much more favorable for us.

 

CNews: How was the project developed?

Roman Kadyrov: In the February 2015 we began a trial period, during which we made sure that all our systems can operate normally in the cloud. It had lasted for 1.5 months.

Then we started the constructing the infrastructure in the cloud and providing access to all the users. And here collocation helped us a lot – for a very small fee, we have created another L2 VPN – channel from our old infrastructure to the new. Then we tested how it works in a virtualized environment. We found out that in addition to standard VMware tools, our outsourcer offers convenient self-service portal, through which by pressing a few keys without special equipment you can deploy a server with pre-installed operating system and introduce it in the infrastructure in 15 minutes. In September, on the investors’ meeting, we already had something to show – an opportunity to almost instantly connect new computing power, while in the case of buying a new server for it to start working, we would need at least 2 weeks. In addition to convenience and time saving, we have received economic benefits – instead of capital expenditures, we have predictable tariff plan that is nominated in rubles.

Right now our entire infrastructure is located in the cloud; it has become convenient, and most important, understandable. And, what is important, its work does not depend on how things are going at the head office – it is now nothing more than a large branch, which simply uses the resources on par with other departments. Also we had virtualized and moved to the cloud servers, previously held in Tomsk.

 

CNews: Large projects usually do not occur smoothly. What difficulties have you encountered?

Roman Kadyrov: When a lot of people are involved in the project, difficulties are inevitable. This may be a problem with communication – someone misunderstood someone, someone has shown unnecessary at the moment initiative. For example, for us it was an attempt to connect the call-center in Tomsk to data center with a direct communication channel. It was not successful, and we lost 1.5 weeks.

Another example – our system had to meet the strict requirements of the work in the cloud. Suppliers have confirmed that it is possible, but then a number of “buts” showed up. The thing is that during the test, we used a cloud in light mode. But when the commercial operation began, the load has increased sharply and failures began to appear. With IBS DataFort help we have managed to solve this problem and create a scheme that ensures the operation of all systems.

We cannot leave out organizational difficulties. Since our company operates on a 20 × 7 basis, all the work had to be done at night. And IBS DataFort employees of all necessary levels had worked with us.

 

CNews: Who is responsible for serviceability of the solution?

Roman Kadyrov: In case of failure, we try to solve quickly find out what the cause of it – does not work the software had problems with telecommunications or with infrastructure. To do this, IBS DataFort provided us with the ability to control its performance indicators. Also, technical support, software vendor and service provider work closely with each other, allowing them to quickly troubleshoot.

I would like to point out that at the stage of system debugging, we have sent to IBS DataFort about 20 applications per month. Right now – less than 10. The majority of applications – is just a consultation on a particular issue, and not a request to troubleshoot.

 

CNews: Were you able to achieve the performance optimization by bringing an outsourcer?

Roman Kadyrov: Both CRM-system and the Genesys solution work well. I would like to point out that there are just so many call-centers, that are located in the cloud. And we’ve seen from our own experience that when the cloud is created a professional outsourcer, success is assured. After the transition to the new platform an average talk time of the operator was increased by 2-3 times due to the fact that the snaps due to the poor quality calls have disappeared from the statistics. The number of redial attempts and the average waiting time answer phone operator has also decreased.

In general, our company succeeded in reducing the number of technical support staff . So, today, instead of having 12 people engaged in infrastructure support, now we have 4, and instead of the 16 people application support – 3.

 

CNews: Are you planning to continue developing cloud solutions?

Roman Kadyrov: With today’s economic situation, it is not profitable for the company to buy a new server, and those which we have gradually become obsolete. For this reason we would like to outsource e-mail – the most important relationships with customers service that is now at risk. Hopefully, later we will do so with EDS and accounting systems.

Vladislav Lantukh: We offer our customers to divide infrastructure costs between everyone. In addition, all our prices are denominated in rubles, so are predictable. Capital “AED” is interesting to us primarily from the fact that this company is focused on the development of their own businesses and they rid themselves of the need to build data centers, buy equipment, etc. Interestingly, prior to this project, we have provided Capital “AED” with the collocation service. Today our customer abandoned this service and has moved all available systems to the cloud. This situation is not typical for the market, but I think it will be in future. In the logic of the current state of the market no one wants to pay for renting space, communications, etc. All this has nothing to do with IT. Data Center Services were gradually replaced by professional outsourcing services, and the current economic situation is promoting this.

Alexander Lyubochko: Cloud model allows us to quickly scale our business. For example, the number of call-center employees depends on the portfolio, with which we work. By buying a call-center as a service, we can quickly increase or reduce the volume of this work.

Roman Kadyrov: Renting a cloud – is not only renting computing power, but also operating systems licenses, database servers, and terminals. And it’s all very flexible, clear and cheap.