December 20th, 2014

fully-managed-splash

Fully Managed is a technology consulting and managed services provider that designs, supports, and hosts the IT infrastructure of small to medium-sized companies. Currently, it has three offices in Canada (Vancouver, BC; Edmonton, AB; and Toronto, ON) and serves a customer base of 110 companies in Canada and the United States.

Founded in 1995, Fully Managed has expanded its business rapidly.

Todd Kane, Vice President of Operations of Fully Managed, said,

“We have to ensure that our hosting provider is able to provide us with consistent, robust performance. Our clients depend on us for robust, reliable service, and we in turn demand the same level of service from our service provider.”

The first signs

Fully Managed was beginning to experience serious infrastructure issues. Kane said, “…data took much longer than was acceptable and often required manual intervention.”
Backups of 20-30 TB of customer data took over seven hours to complete and often failed. In addition, the storage snapshot took too long to be practical.

Kane explained, “Our provider was not meeting their service level agreements to Fully Managed for the infrastructure platform services being provided. What made matters worse was the disturbing lack of transparency provided to us as a partner.”

After careful evaluation, Fully Managed contracted Vancouver managed service provider GT.net in December 2013 to help resolve this issue. We had a shared client, Hatfield Consultants. Fully Managed provided IT consulting services, while we were Hatfield’s hosting provider.

How we approached this problem

We replicated Fully Managed’s current infrastructure within our data center in Vancouver. This entailed a custom VMware-based private cloud architecture and Veeam for backup and recovery. Veeam provides visibility into VMware clusters and hosts with optimization reports on VM provisioning and help with capacity planning.

Fully Managed's Server Infrastructure

Fully Managed’s Server Infrastructure

The implementation process was conducted over three phases: the first phase was provisioning and setting up the environment, which took less than a day.

Phase 1: Cloud Provisioning

Phase 1: Cloud Provisioning

Once Fully Managed’s environment was replicated, we subjected it to rigorous stress and backup/recovery testing. The testing was intended to validate performance and replicate the desired results. The length of the testing duration is entirely up to the customer and usually takes between one and two weeks or until the customer is satisfied with the results.

Phase 2: Testing Replication

Phase 2: Testing Replication

The third stage involves migration. GT.net worked weekends to minimize the impact on Fully Managed customers as we implemented the move in batches over to the new private cloud environment.

Phase 3: Batch Migration

Phase 3: Batch Migration

All three phases proceeded smoothly and without any issues for Fully Managed or its clients.

A resounding success

Through a private cloud infrastructure inside a VMware environment, we were able to resolve the problems that Fully Managed was experiencing with its previous hosting provider.

Every step of the way, we kept Fully Managed fully apprised of the status of the implementation process.
Kane said, “One of the first differences that became obvious to us was that GT.net made sure that we were comfortable with everything they were doing. We were kept informed of the progress of the project, and whenever we had questions or concerns, GT.net was able to address those right away.”

“During the migration process, there was no downtime, and our business could keep functioning. Backups are quick and reliable, completing overnight and not going into the next work day. With Veeam, VM recovery and item-level recovery take minutes, not hours. Performance is now optimized, reliability is greatly improved, and our costs have decreased. That is a tremendous bonus. We are in a private cloud, which means that we can scale up or down according to our business needs. Signing on with GT.net gives us flexibility when our needs change, and we have the ability to scale accordingly.”

One of the key benefits of a private cloud is the decoupling of compute, memory, and storage resources. Our client is able to scale up (or down) as needed, unlike with dedicated servers, where the hardware is bundled together and does not give an organization the agility to change with its clients as computing needs change.

Physical Server vs Cloud Server

Physical Server vs Cloud Server

And for Fully Managed, onboarding of new clients is a breeze. The process is fully managed by our team, and adding new a customer to the private cloud is as easy as provisioning new cloud servers almost instantly. Turning on site-to-site VPNs usually happens within an hour.

Customize, test, tune, and rollout

While most hosting companies offer a standard package of hosting services, GT.net is a Vancouver managed service provider that takes pride in designing customized packages to meet each customer’s needs. We offer an array of services that go above and beyond the work of the vast majority of other hosting companies, including:

  • An intimate analysis of the client’s application infrastructure
  • Individual fine tuning of the client’s database and operating system
  • Use of customized tools designed by experts within GT.net – such as GTmetrix and GossamerEye – to optimize and proactively manage a client’s system.

We were able to resolve the problems of Fully Managed by providing a staff of highly trained professionals with extensive experience, offering our specialty standard service package and willingness to treat our clients not just as customers but as partners with a vested interest in establishing common goals. Those goals include the formation and maintenance of a solid computer infrastructure that is high performing, reliable, safe, and scalable.

GT.net: a Vancouver managed service provider with flexibility to meet your business needs

Alex Krohn, president and CEO of GT.net, said, “The term ‘managed services’ is one that is not always clearly defined within the hosting industry. When we say we provide ‘managed services,’ we mean that we will be there for our clients no matter what. We are very proud of our expertise and our talent. We will explain the situation as clearly as possible, recommend the best choices possible for that particular customer, and follow through with customer service that is second to none.”

Today, Fully Managed is able to provide robust, reliable, and consistent service to their customers. If there is an issue with performance – as there will be, from time to time, with any hosting provider – we’ll be there to resolve the issue quickly and seamlessly.

Kane said,

“We are very pleased with our working relationship with GT.net. Not only do they provide excellent, reliable performance on a consistent basis but they also operate with a level of transparency that’s hard to find in any industry.”