Month: November 2016

Claranet launches Enterprise Backup service powered by Asigra

MSP boosts disaster recovery capabilities to better protect customer data

Managed services provider Claranet has launched Enterprise Backup, an enterprise-grade cloud backup and recovery service, supported by backup and recovery software specialist Asigra. The Enterprise Backup service allows Claranet customers greater flexibility and control over their data management practices and in conjunction with Business Backup, a service aimed at smaller businesses, forms part of a comprehensive backup and disaster recovery portfolio.

Enterprise Backup is a remote backup and archiving service that supports a wide range of environments, including physical and virtual services, different operating systems, databases and public cloud services. The service is built on industry-leading Asigra software which, compresses, encrypts and transfers copies of selected data to a secure backup platform in Claranet’s UK-based data centres. The service is based on agent-less architecture and does not require the software to be installed on every target server on a customer’s network, keeping deployment, management and maintenance time to a minimum.

As part of the Enterprise Backup service Claranet recommends analysing which data sets are most important to the organisation and determining how often they should be backed up. Claranet then takes a central role in helping its customers configure their data backup policies. As customers are charged for the amount of data they store on the platform, this consultative approach ensures that they only store exactly what they need, delivering the best possible return on investment.

Martin Saunders, Claranet’s Technical Director, commented:

Increasingly the real value of a business doesn’t sit in its physical assets but in its data. It has become the foundation of every modern business, no matter the industry, so the need for a robust data protection strategy has never been more pressing. The challenge is that this data can be stored in multiple locations and the amount of data within organisations is increasing exponentially. Not all of this data is of equal importance, so deploying a one-size-fits-all data backup solution won’t achieve the desired results and would be unnecessarily costly. Also many organisations are still using expensive and unreliable tape technology for backup, and in some cases storing backups on site.

We’ve launched our Enterprise Backup service to give our customers greater choice, control, flexibility and confidence over how they protect their business critical data. As a company we’ve got years of expertise in a wide range of industry-leading backup technologies, as well as full ownership of a secure network and data centres, meaning that we are in a strong position to deliver tailored solutions that meet our customers’ requirements. Moreover, using the latest in data analytics tools, we play an active role in helping our customers sift through their data and determine backup configurations that deliver peace of mind for the best possible price,” Saunders continued.

Retailers must address the threat of disruption in the age of digital transformation, says Claranet

New research shows that 54 per cent of retailers expect their industry to be significantly disrupted over the next two years

Retailers must review their approach to application development practices and IT infrastructure to achieve the business agility they need to address the threat of disruption in their industry. This is according to Ian Furness, Hosting Services Director at Claranet, who states that implementing a DevOps approach is critical if retailers are to keep up with the quickening pace of their sector and achieve competitive advantage.

According to a new report by Microsoft, ‘Digital Transformation: The Age of Innocence, Inertia or Innovation?’, 54 per cent of retailers expect their industry to be significantly disrupted over the next two years. Claranet believes that in order address the threat of disruption and fend off competitors, retailers need to be able to adapt quickly.
However, just 39 per cent of European retailers have implemented a DevOps approach, leaving a significant portion still to do so, and only 38 per cent host their ecommerce applications in public cloud, according to Claranet’s 2016 research report.

For Ian Furness, those retailers that haven’t yet adopted DevOps and/or public cloud will be placed at a distinct disadvantage, unable to keep up with their more agile competitors.

He commented:

The retail sector is ripe for disruption. As a result, it’s vital for retailers to be able to adapt quickly in order to contend with the disruptive players within their industry. Consumer behaviour is constantly changing and many will not use a retailer who lacks a good website or mobile application. Ultimately, the faster an organisation can improve its applications, the better chance they have of gaining a competitive advantage. However, this puts additional pressure on the IT department who must ensure they can keep up with these changes. Not doing so can have serious repercussions on the competitive advantage of companies and ultimately their bottom line, as what businesses can really afford to wait for new applications in the digital age?

“With software now at the centre of online retail businesses, applications are a key differentiating factor from the competition. The retailers who will be best placed to gain a significant edge and overcome issues and compete with agility are those who start to implement a DevOps approach. The benefits include a more streamlined and integrated environment that is able to facilitate an accelerated application lifecycle. Public cloud is also an important part of this story here. The potential for automation that comes with hyper-scale public cloud platforms is essential for supporting DevOps, while the scalability they bring enables retailers to cope with sudden and potentially huge spikes in traffic. It’s therefore surprising that so few retailers have yet gone down that route” he continued.

For retailers to truly win in their market and compete at the forefront of digital transformation, IT teams should be focusing their efforts on developing applications that deliver the optimal customer experience, while using a partner with deep expertise in designing, deploying and managing both public cloud and hosted platforms. By working with a trusted cloud provider with the specific skills and expertise needed to help organisations architect the best possible solution for their applications, they are able to focus their efforts where they are needed most,” Ian concluded.

A wolf in sheep’s clothing? The cost of overlooking basic email security

The security industry has a bit of a boy-who-cried-wolf problem. Every potential threat is maximally hyped, to the point where no one knows what they should take seriously or dismiss as marketing spin or simple overreaction.

And if you’re a shepherd, everything that moves starts looking like a wolf. Particularly if you’re a shepherd that specialises in anti-wolf security suites, right?

But in the same way that locking your front door is always worth it – even if a full-blown, code-secured gate is overkill – basic email security is a no-brainer.

Missguided drives accelerated growth with AWS and Claranet

Executive summary

Challenge: Missguided’s success is built on its ability to deliver a fast, seamless experience for its customers, but intense sales days meant they would have to prioritise traffic to keep their website running.

Solution: Claranet migrated around 170 servers into AWS within six weeks (twice as fast as intially expected), moving the whole system onto a completely different architecture, removing all bandwidth and availability issues and putting in a place a new disaster recovery system.

Result: On intense sales launch days every single order can be taken as it arises, with no need to deploy their queuing system or to delay any order processing. The only challenge is whether they have enough product to fulfil the orders.

The challenge

Missguided has achieved its rapid growth off the back of a strategy that is rooted in speed and agility. Its target audience has a taste for the latest fashion trends and makes purchasing decisions spontaneously, with most orders on Missguided’s websites being for next-day delivery. Missguided’s success is built on its ability to offer a lot of fresh styles – it replaces approximately 25 per cent of its range every month – and to deliver a fast, seamless experience for its customers.

Part of its go to market strategy has involved the launch of collaborative fashion lines and flash sale events, which can create a rapid upsurge in traffic and orders. John Allen, CTO of Missguided, commented on the implications of this strategy for the infrastructure arrangement:

We launched a collaborative range with fashion and beauty influencer Carli Bybel on 19th July 2016. Carli tweeted to announce the range and we immediately experienced 47 times normal peak traffic in a four minute period. Clearly that sort of load is unprecedented and the site couldn’t cope. We had planned for this, and were able to activate our visitor prioritisation system, limiting the traffic to 20 per cent. The site didn’t fail because we were stopping traffic but it meant that we were effectively holding people back; customers were not as satisfied, and in some cases they were very dissatisfied. When you’re pursuing a high-octane growth strategy driven by intense days of sales, this impacts the whole business.”

When Missguided met Claranet, the retailer was working with a provider utilising a traditional hosting model from a single data centre. With ambitious goals for global growth, this arrangement was no longer suitable: Missguided required scalable and flexible infrastructure that could grow with the company and seamlessly accommodate sudden surges in traffic and orders on the website.

The solution

John said:

Given the frequent surges in traffic, we needed a highly scalable and reactive system that would rapidly respond to our promotional events. We recognised that a cloud solution hosted in AWS would address the load, flexibility and adaptability issues. AWS recommended that we talk to Claranet, an AWS Premier Partner who had seen through similar transitions on our technology stack, which includes Magento. We quickly found that Claranet had a very good story to tell, with real world case studies, which clearly demonstrated clear understanding of the platform. They also had the specific expertise and skills necessary, and a common understanding of what a business like ours needs to be successful.”

Initially, the Missguided team wanted to accomplish the transition within 12 weeks, but key product launch events subsequently drove them into making it happen a lot faster. Claranet managed to complete the migration in half the time, migrating approximately 170 servers into AWS within six weeks, and moving the whole system onto a completely different architecture. All bandwidth and availability issues had been designed out of the solution and the single points of failure were removed. A new disaster recovery system was also put in place.

When the Claranet team flipped the proverbial switch at 1 am on a Thursday night, they ensured that they had the means in place to combat any potential incidents rapidly and effectively. Claranet’s ongoing support system monitors memory usage, CPU usage, and other relevant metrics. Should these metrics reach a certain value, the system automatically raises and reports an incident.

Moreover, Claranet worked with the Missguided team to build automated bots that simulate the user journey, interacting with the website. Should any of these interactions fail, an incident service automatically kicks into action. With this proactive approach to management in place, Missguided can pursue their high-octane growth strategy with confidence that their IT infrastructure can support sudden surges in traffic.

The result

The benefits of the new solution for both Missguided and its customers were immediately obvious. Carli Bybel and Missguided made a commitment to relaunch their collaborative range almost immediately after the first launch sold out. The whole process was re-run on 25th August on the new AWS system, with an almost identical upsurge in traffic (around 45 times normal peak load). This time, however, the system was able to take every single order as it arose; there was no need to deploy the queueing system nor to delay any order processing. Within a few minutes it became clear to the Missguided team that the new system was stable and could cope with whatever was being thrown at it. Allen commenting on the new system, said that “the only challenge we had then was whether we have enough product to fulfil the orders – and that’s a great problem to have.”

The migration to AWS has also allowed Missguided to move onto the Amazon Aurora database engine, taking its maximum database throughput from 2 million transactions a minute to well in excess of 5 million. This has had a direct effect on revenue, as it allows the website to take all orders without avoidance during its critical high-intensity moments. Moreover, the previous platform suffered from very high latency, resulting in regular overnight down time. With Aurora, this is no longer necessary. For a business model reliant on the freshness and immediacy of the product, these extra hours of trading daily are vital – and Missguided have already seen the benefits, especially in the US, New Zealand and Australia.

John commented:

Claranet’s dedication to getting skilled people onsite to understand our requirements and ensure the migration process went well was impressive. I’ve done a number of these over the years, around 14 at my last count, and although there were issues this was definitely the slickest data centre move I’ve ever done. The work they’ve done to move us onto a scalable platform has had a direct impact on the focus of the Missguided team. I now have time to focus on wider strategic business projects rather than constantly working out how to support the website during a range launch.

As a result of a successful transition, with the help of Claranet, we have already started deploying new trading platforms and back-office systems in AWS. To scale up used to take us anything between four and six weeks to add in servers. We can now do that in literally seconds. Claranet were able to take us on that journey and they’ve got a lot of experience in that area. We’ve now reached a point where strategically we’ve decided to push as much as possible onto the AWS platform, preferably everything one day, and Claranet are continuing to help us to do that. This relationship has really moved the business forward and it’s set us up for something much bigger in the future.”

About Missguided

Missguided is a ‘rapid fashion’ multi-channel brand, aimed at the 16-25 female market. Started from scratch in 2008 by Nitin Passi, who still owns 100 per cent of the business, it now has turnover in the hundreds of millions. It has enjoyed rapid growth in the UK and has subsequently expanded its operations into Australia, France, USA, Germany, and Spain. The company’s long-term mission is to transform the successful medium-sized business into a global fashion brand.

Download full case study

Claranet announced as Platinum Sponsor of the AWS Enterprise Summit in London

Leading managed services provider Claranet is the sole Platinum Sponsor the 2016 Amazon Web Service (AWS) Enterprise Summit in London. Claranet’s sponsorship of the event, being held at the ExCel Centre on 8 November, further establishes its position as a key European-wide provider of managed services on AWS.

The AWS Enterprise Summit in London is designed to educate attendees on how to accelerate adoption of the cloud and maximise the benefits it can deliver to an organisation.

Claranet achieved Premier Partner Status with AWS earlier this year. It is rapidly deepening its engagement and expertise with the cloud giant to enable customers to take advantage of the platform. John Allen, CTO of Claranet customer Missguided, will speak at the Summit on the company’s transformation following its recent migration to AWS with Claranet. Sam Bashton, a leader of Claranet’s Cloud Practice, will also be offering consultancy sessions to IT leaders who are looking to understand how they can get the best out of AWS infrastructure.

Michel Robert, Managing Director of Claranet UK, commented:

Enabling customers to take full advantage of the transformational benefits that Cloud-based services can bring, is a key focus for our business. The AWS Summits across the UK and Europe are therefore major events for us. Earlier this year we were the Platinum Sponsor of the 2016 European AWS Summit, and we take pride in lending our support for the AWS Enterprise Summit as well.

Our close ties to AWS means that we are in a strong position to provide the expertise a customer needs to migrate to and make best us of the AWS platform, resulting in better application performance, availability and security. Missguided’s success with AWS is a prime example of the potential of the cloud platform to transform the way a business operates for the better.”

Claranet has built a European-wide cloud practice, aiming to bring the significant benefits of managed AWS services to business across Europe. In 2016, Claranet acquired UK business Bashton to develop its DevOps and AWS expertise. It also acquired AWS specialists Morea in France and Celingest in Spain in 2015. Its customers today include ITV, BBC Worldwide, Missguided, Orange, Superdry, Liverpool Football Club, and Virgin Holidays.

Robert concluded:

Our heritage in both hosting and network services puts us in a strong position to take advantage of cloud platforms such as AWS on behalf of our customers. Our ability to draw on the wide range of AWS services and combine these with a range of tools for code release and automation into a single offering drives real value for our customers. Throughout our 20-year history, we’ve seen the ways in which innovative technologies can transform the way businesses operate and improve efficiencies; the advent of the cloud is no exception. The AWS Enterprise Summit offers an exceptional chance for more businesses to realise the benefits of AWS solutions, and we are delighted to play a part in that.”