Under the authority of “Cosmic” IT department there are not only the traditional IT resources, but also specialized control systems of restaurants, cinemas, bowling. Today, about 60% of its “Cosmic” infrastructure is located on the servers of IBS DataFort service-provider, which allowed to cut the costs of maintaining its work by 40%. Sergey Galperin, IT Director of “Cosmic” told about the specifics of the IT work in the entertainment work in his interview with CNews.
CNews: Tell us about “Cosmic” in more details
Sergey Galperin: “Cosmic” is a leader of the entertainment industry in Russia. The company operates on the market for 17 years. It brings together 24 family type amusement parks that include cinemas, bowling alley, billiards, restaurants, child cafes, the biggest toy libraries. 14 sites are located in Moscow, and the rest in the regions – St. Petersburg, Krasnodar, Kostroma, Yaroslavl, Sergiev Posad, Surgut, Krasnoyarsk, Novosibirsk, another is opening in Kogalym September this year..
Entertainment center visitors can go to a restaurant, spend their or their children’s birthdays, watch football broadcast of the European Championship, enjoy the game of our team, play laser tag, bowling or billiard. Parents can send their children to the Toy Library, where they are looked after by experienced instructors and spend time with friends themselves.
In recent years, we have been actively developing direction of laser tag, quests, and cinemas. In general, the “Cosmic” was the first company to engage in the integration of the entertainment center with cinema. To date, we have opened three cinemas – “Atlantis” at Anino subway station and “Rodina” at the Semenovskaya subway stations in Moscow, as well as the “Capitoliy” in Sergiev Posad.
CNews: What is the IT infrastructure that provides company’s work?
Sergey Galperin: Under the IT infrastructure we generally understand computer equipment and software. Under the authority of our IT department, in addition, there is bowling alley management, billiards, restaurant business, multimedia systems – panel TVs, video walls, advertising surfaces, organization and WiFi-access control.
We try to keep abreast of innovations, trends and implement them. This is position of senior management, investors and business owners. Innovation does not only attract people, but helps to ensure the high quality and variety of services.
CNews: How did the IT infrastructure change as the business development of the company?
Sergey Galperin: Until 2009, we used our own server hardware. While the company’s head office had moved frequently, and therefore IT infrastructure had been moving as well. It is obvious that any assembly and disassembly of expensive computer equipment is risky. In addition, the new office had not always had links with redundancy that met our requirements.
We started looking for the partners, covered a lot of offers from companies such as «Krok», Deas, Atlex, Hetzner, Softline, DataLine, «I-Teco” and many others, and ultimately chose IBS DataFort. In the first stage, we stopped on colocation – placing our equipment at IBS DataFort platform. Prepared project, optimized it, agreed with the operators, placed equipment and started working together. Over the years of cooperation, we have never encountered serious problems – all incidents are always disposed of in accordance with SLA.
The second stage of the development of relations with IBS DataFort is associated with the adoption of personal data law in Russia – we decided to take advantage of its resources in order to solve this problem. Thus, last year, together we have created a hybrid IT infrastructure.
CNews: Tell us more about this project.
Sergey Galperin: Today we have workable expensive servers and storage systems. They will work for a while, so to completely abandon them is economically unfeasible. Therefore, we have decided to place our information resources at the facilities of IBS DataFort and at the same time start working on the full migration that will happen when the time comes to dispose of our own computing resources. So we get rid of the need to purchase new equipment, licensing, software security issues, availability, reliability, seller support – all this will lie on the shoulders of IBS DataFort.
CNews: What systems have you transferred to the cloud?
Sergey Galperin: “Cosmic” infrastructure can be divided into two parts. First is a general-purpose infrastructure: conventional computers, servers, applications, licensed software that provides the work of marketing, accounting and so on. These we have placed on the resources of the service provider.
The second is a specialized system. For example, the restaurant business is working on R-Keeper application, and it cannot be outsourced. The same can be said of systems that automate the work of bowling, games, cinemas, ice rinks, etc.
Vladislav Lantukh: Today we are discussing the possibility of conducting some tests of virtualization specialized solutions. If we succeed, it will be a truly unique project. But the main problem is that in large shopping centers, where “Cosmic” works is usually no alternative telecommunications operator with physically separated input channels. This means that the work of the gaming centers will be paralyzed in case of an accident. This problem can be solved through the use of wireless access to the Internet, but, unfortunately, it is unstable.
CNews: Are you satisfied with the level of security that is provided by the provider?
Sergey Galperin: Of course. I have repeatedly visited the area of the data center and am confident that it is very difficult to physically get on its territory. Secondly, permanent access control, video surveillance systems are installed everywhere in the building. And, of course, all the necessary measures to ensure the security of hardware and software systems are deployed.
Vladislav Lantukh: I would like to point out that as a service provider we do not have access to the customer’s data. This is ensured by a number of restraints, control and monitoring that we use.
Sergey Galperin: Why on the West the demand for cloud computing is greater than in Russia? I think this is largely a matter of trust. Unfortunately, it is no secret that all companies that have emerged in the 90s, psychologically are afraid to trust their provider with information. Case in point – the banks. “Cosmic” has nothing to hide from the state, so we place our data on the partner’s hardware, of course after previously evaluating the reliability of access, control and monitoring of the information to ensure its protection.
The second reason is that any cooperation must be financially beneficial for the customer. And for “Cosmic” it is more profitable to work with IBS DataFort, than buying equipment and software even if we will be using it for 3-5 years. Unfortunately, many Russian customers are not able to correctly calculate the cost of ownership of infrastructure, and for this reason, the benefit from the use of professional services to provide IT infrastructure is not obvious for them.
CNews: Have you evaluated this benefit?
Sergey Galperin: When 8 years ago I came to the “Cosmic”, in IT service we had 11 people working who looked after 8 objects. After 3 months, I fired three slobs. At that time, instead of the data center, we had three servers, and every accountant had a local printer that has constantly “chewed” on paper. During the year, we bought normal servers, network printers, and only on paper and cartridges have saved 60%.
A year later, I fired two more people, and only 6 employees remained in the IT department, who are still working there despite the fact that the number of facilities has doubled. Then we received all the multimedia equipment for service, and with it came a sound technician and engineer. Today, they manage 600 video panels and 3-4 projectors in each club.
We are continuously negotiating with telecom operators and have reduced the cost of their services by an average of 30% over the last 3 years. We are very actively using electronic trading platforms in the procurement of supplies – for example, today cartridges cost has decreased by 2 times.
In recent years, “Cosmic” business has seriously increased and the infrastructure has developed with it. However, thanks to the cooperation with IBS DataFort we did not have to hire new staff to support it. I’m not even talking about the cost of licensing 152-FL, and ensuring the protection of communication channels for our regional offices. I think, through the creation of hybrid IT infrastructure, we were able to save about 40% of the previously planned cost.
CNews: In what areas are you going to develop the cooperation in the future?
Sergey Galperin: Today, IBS DataFort has about 60% of our IT infrastructure. We still have quite new servers, to abandon which is not economically feasible. However, businesses are actively evolving, new facilities are being built, and I think that next year we will need more powerful resources that we will need to build or migrate. Now we are engaged in study of these issues and are drawing up a migration plan.
I also think that we will conduct an experiment of deploying accounting systems of one of the clubs on our partner’s resource. Booking communication channels is important for this task.
We also have problems related to the media – control over images and sound. All video and sound content can and must be placed at the partner. And now we are working on it.
CNews: How will the market for such services develop in Russia, in your opinion?
Sergey Galperin: Of course, infrastructure outsourcing market is growing. Today, this growth is slowed slightly due to the changes in the ruble – it has become more difficult to invest in the purchase of equipment for providers. But this is temporary – innovation will still be purchased, implemented, used, and services, such as those that IBS DataFort provides, will be in demand.
Vladislav Lantukh: I think that outsourcing the maximum number of systems in use is a logical stage of market development. This allows you to focus on developing the core business and not worry about what IT resources are needed.