As a CTO, I have often found myself in the position of deciding the best solution for implementing an efficient and cost-effective production infrastructure. I found the answer in Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IAAS) cloud computing.
I would like to illustrate how we leveraged NaviSite’s cloud computing platform to efficiently cut costs, by discussing the implementation of NaviSite’s Managed Cloud Services for ConnectEdu, a Web-based leader in empowering students to manage their education, for which I am CTO.
We were looking for a solution that would allow us to use resources on demand, the utility model, to meet the seasonal demands in the education industry, in the most cost efficient manner. We initially considered using cloud computing as a more cost-effective solution. We also wanted to be more efficient, we were making many upgrades to our products, and we needed to be able to move from development into test and QA environments and then into production in a condensed time-frame.
We chose Navisite, a leading worldwide provider of enterprise-class, cloud-enabled hosting, managed applications and services, to host our physical infrastructure. Navisite is built on the Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS) and VMware vSphere, which it has customized. It integrated a Web-based management tool, called AppCenter, which allowed us to create our own IT environments from an AJAX browser interface.
AppCenter proved to be a crucial matter when we converted the physical production environments to the cloud platform. When we first performed the migration of the servers from physical to virtual we ran into mixed results. A few of the conversions went well, but the others would often take days, and, not knowing if we were still moving forward or the process was hung, we chose the alternative route:
- We created new instances of the servers using AppCenter – this is done in just a few minutes. We installed application-specific software on the servers using remote access. This process is similar to buying a physical computer and configuring it to run your application.
- The clean install could then be cloned, which is the power of virtualization. After we created our core production Web and app servers, we were able to clone the entire platform with a click of a button. This is where Cloud Computing shines, saving us over $300,000 up-front for one of our application solutions, because we did not buy any hardware and software, and saving us six weeks of time that it took us to stand up physical environments.
- Our internal hardware and software systems (CRM, Email, Accounting, Data backup and Knowledge management) have been transitioned the same way as our production system above, converting more than 65 internal servers to an entire SaaS-based model. (More on this in an upcoming blog article.)
The results were more than satisfactory:
- Internal IT expenses decreased by more than 80%!
- The time to deploy one of the production system’s speed of delivery decreased from seven weeks to just a few hours.
- All costs associated with software, hardware or maintenance, have been eliminated, creating more than 42% annual savings.