comdivision was tasked to enable a fast-growing full-service business hosting and data center in Ohio (USA) to resell service provider offerings to small and medium sized IT-companies. This would enable any local IT company to offer cloud hosting services directly to their customers as a one-stop shop.

It was critical that the solution needed to be as automated and low maintenance as possible, said the CTO, a 23-year veteran in the IT industry, “we have worked hard to become HIPAA and PCi compliant, so the new service offering needed to ensure tenant-separation and secure network design”.

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The Challenge

In other words, the challenge was the visibility into the infrastructure to support ongoing audits and compliance with federal regulations and industry standards. This had to be a key pillar in the design. They also wanted to take a more granular approach to network security to protect the tenants against a data breach. On the other hand, they needed the flexibility to expand the infrastructure quickly, when the customer base grew. The CTO said: „we had the idea to slice our physical datacenter in smaller portions that can be easily consumed by service provider to sell valued added and managed services in a secure and simple manner”.

Fabian Lenz, senior architect and comdivision partner knew, that with legacy hardware, this task could be daunting. “We mapped the business requirements to the IT requirements” said Lenz, “and only had a very tight time frame to do that… but, what else is new?” he laughed, “we had to find a way how we could shorten the time to deploy new compute and storage resources continually with ease”.

The Solution

In their architecture concept and implementation plan, Lenz and his team proposed a two phased approach: “During Phase 1 the scope was to deploy VMware vCloud Director and VMware NSX”, said Lenz “and Phase 2 included VMware vCloud Availability and VMware vRealize Operations with the tenant portal”.

“I was relieved that our customer decided to go with Dell EMC VxRail – a hyperconverged platform – for the project” said Lenz, “with VxRAIL we can rely on a standardized hardware and software-defined datacenter stack that can be easily expanded & maintained”. Because VxRail already  comes pre-configured and pre-tested using VMware vSAN, the infrastructure could easily be expanded with a turn-key hardware set, “without VxRail, deployment time would have easily been at least twice as long” knew Lenz.

The two-phased approached gave the service provider the opportunity to validate their proposed business model directly after Phase 1 by utilizing and adjusting the platform in a lean manner.

During the second phase, the customers’ infrastructure team was able to utilize the platform within a Disaster Recovery-as-a-Service model to protect the on-premises vSphere backed datacenter through vCloud Availability. Besides that, leveraging the tenant portal of vRealize Operations, the tenants would gain technical insights into the resource-usage of their environment and how to bill their customers as they wish.

All phases were delivered by a clear and structured methodical approach. comdivision communicated all relevant dependencies and relevant explanations upfront. This very structured approach, lead to an efficient work stream across two continents.

The Result

Phase 1 was done in less than 50 hours. During this phase, the core cloud infrastructure – based on an enterprise architecture for vCloud Director 10 and an NSX infrastructure – had been setup and handed over.

“comdivision created a cloud platform that will be utilized by other service providers in a self-service fashion, interconnected to end-customers site via VPN or the Internet” said the CTO, “our environment is now designed for an easy scale out to match growing customer demand”.

“Fabian was really adamant about the fact that we first needed to write down our clear vision what we wanted to achieve business-wise, so he and his team could match the IT outcomes with the business outcomes”, he continued. “we also appreciate that comdivision even stayed well below budget and well within the timeframe we had anticipated.

The Outlook

With extending growth this service provider will need more insights into operational enhancements. vRealize Log Insight and vRealize Network Insight will be evaluated to further enhance security and operational efficiency.