Data centre colocation or IT managed services? Wildnet chooses both

A software development firm wanted to host its wares on IT infrastructure that combined the benefits of a fully managed IT service and flexibility of data centre colocation.

A London-based software development firm looking to host its IT infrastructure wanted more than a data centre colocation facility but less than a full IT managed service provider. But such a hybrid model was hard to come by.

Wildnet, which provides e-services to the insurance sector, was seeing demand from its customers to host the software it builds for them.  For this, it would need more computing power, more storage, and better availability. 

Its internal IT infrastructure wasn’t capable of supporting such plans. “We had an ageing infrastructure, sub-optimal risk management and DR [disaster recovery] capabilities, and a virtualisation project that wasn’t strategic,” said Jon Finn, Wildnet’s chief operating officer.

“Our key requirement was for an infrastructure and DR facility that offered high availability and no single point of failure,” Finn said.

A fully-managed service provider could have provided this, but the decision-making wasn’t so straight-forward. “Being a software development company, we need autonomy over our internal platform to cater to our developers’ needs,” Finn said. “We weren’t confident that a fully-managed service provider can respond to our needs quickly.”

And at the same time, the company didn’t have the upfront budget to overhaul its IT infrastructure, and wanted to save on capital expenditure (capex).

“Our requirements were fairly demanding,” Finn said: low capex, a highly scalable IT infrastructure that could deliver high performance, dual site synchronous data replication – as well as a high degree of flexibility and control over its IT.

Desperately seeking colocation-managed service hybrid

The IT team began its search for a hybrid service provider that could combine the best of data centre colocation and IT managed services. It approached six big, global players including with its request for a semi-managed hosting facility but none could offer what Wildnet wanted, Finn said.

The IT team then selected the UK managed services provider Adapt and its enterprise Virtual Data Centre (eVDC) service, a virtual server and storage platform that delivers high performance and resilience. It also offers high availability with dual site synchronous data replication.

Using a colocation data centre for disaster recovery

Find out what the benefits of using a colocation facility are and also learn about the things you should consider before using a colocation or a managed service provider.

Wildnet uses the Adapt’s service in two ways. It runs its internal platform (which is used for software development on the colocation offering, which leverages the storage and networking facilities of eVDC while allowing Wildnet to control its environment. But it uses the highly available eVDC managed service to host its insurance application.

Full IT managed services for hosting apps for its customers means Wildnet’s IT team doesn’t have to worry about scalability and availability as its customer-base grows or worry about disaster recovery on a day-to-day basis.

The IT team worked out a three-year service agreement with Adapt that will provide it a combination of its data centre colocation facility plus eVDC’s managed services. Finn describes the arrangement as “the kind of hybrid service we always wanted.”

“In 18 months, we have moved from an ageing, non-scalable and difficult to maintain IT infrastructure to one that is agile,” Finn said. “Previously, if we had to scale up, we had to buy servers, storage capabilities and cabling, etc. Now scaling up is easier as we can just buy pre-built units at an agreed tariff,” he added.

Finn said the IT team was able to increase computing power eight-fold and saw a 75% reduction in time to provision new production environment for its customers, saves 60-70% on hardware costs and has reduced long-term total cost of ownership of technology assets.

Just as importantly, the IT project did not require any capex expenditures, and “we got the level of autonomy we always wanted with regards to IT control,” Finn said.

In hind-sight, Finn said he should have opted for managed services for day-to-day services such as internal email and database applications, and retain control of just core servers that are used for product development. “We will review the SLA when the time comes,” Finn said, “but at least we were able to avail a colocation facility that offered fully-managed services where we desired.”

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