Service Improvements at the Flick of a Switch
Following a decade located in Telehouse East, the growth in Gradwell’s customer base meant that elements of Gradwell’s existing technology were coming to the limits of their capability. Future proofing both technology and connectivity was paramount; which led to the decision for Gradwell to focus on a major upgrade of their London network.
Founded in 1998 by Internet entrepreneur Peter Gradwell – ‘one of the changing faces of IT’ (Daily Telegraph) – Gradwell is an independent provider of Internet communications services to UK business people. Specialising in VoIP, Gradwell also provides broadband internet, email and website hosting to a customer base of over 21,000. Already with growing revenues in excess of £7 million, Gradwell is driving business growth. In 2012 it secured £1.15m venture capital investment from Altitude Partners as part of a significant expansion plan aiming to grow the business to be four times larger.
The investment enabled Gradwell to significantly scale its infrastructure and make major investments in technical support and business development departments. This ensured that it could provide a more reliable and future-proofed service to customers.
Gradwell consistently achieves 99.99 per cent availability – testament to it’s resilient systems, supported by multiple clusters. However, as with any complex technology, outages are inevitable – it’s how effectively and efficiently they are dealt with that matter. This pursuit of maximising customer satisfaction runs through Gradwell’s ICT strategy. Following a decade located in Telehouse East, the growth in Gradwell’s customer base meant that elements of Gradwell’s existing technology were coming to the limits of their capability. Future proofing both technology and connectivity was paramount; which led to the decision for Gradwell to focus on a major upgrade of their London network.
Gradwell reviewed a number of London Data Centres, finally choosing Telehouse West. The quality of service in Telehouse East made it an easy decision, especially given the standard of the recently
constructed £80million facility and Telehouse’s heritage as the first carrier neutral facility and home to the London Internet Exchange (LINX).
“Telehouse West was a great benefit in terms of capacity and expansion capabilities. The state of the art cooling systems installed opened a lot of options for our technical upgrade” states Ashley Taylor, Head of Technical Operations at Gradwell.
A new suite with caged units and automatic windows in Telehouse West provided the most efficient and secure environment for the Gradwell expansion. Telehouse worked closely with HP and system integrator DTP to oversee the infrastructure upgrade and, in late August, Gradwells new servers, storage and networking were installed into a new suite in Telehouse West.
This implementation was managed completely independently meaning that Gradwell was removed from the daily management cycle of the infrastructure project. A new core-network was implemented in Gradwells existing suite in Telehouse East, and the two sites were linked together using a 20GB network. By October, the servers in the West network had been commissioned and a formal hand over of the network infrastructure to Netsumo, Gradwell’s network manager, was completed. With Gradwell running the main services from Telehouse East, the project was non-disruptive to the existing business infrastructure. When completed the ‘switch was flicked’ and the new technology was seamlessly integrated into Gradwells operations.
“We are running HP Gen8 blades which have significant amounts of computing power, on a 10GB network,” says Taylor. “However, the biggest speed increase is in disk storage, where our 3PAR storage system is supplying the most requested files from flash memory rather than disk. These speed/capacity improvements will, we believe, translate into a reduction in bottlenecks during busy periods.”
“Not being involved in the nitty-gritty technological upgrade was brilliant for Gradwell. We left the project in the hands of Telehouse and HP and were able to walk in on Monday morning operating at four times the capacity that we could on the previous Friday,” explains Taylor.
Gradwell has seen a number of benefits in the new platform and is confident that its customers have too. Firstly, because of the new and cleanly installed platform, the quality of design and documentation is much higher. Secondly, all the equipment is proactively managed by Telehouse as part of the Remote Hands support – offered as an unlimited service as standard to all Telehouse customers. The service includes a four hour time to-fix SLA which is essential for a communications provider. Telehouse’s highly skilled engineers are able to respond quicker to Gradwell’s equipment as they are based on site and are familiar with the equipment being used. With offices based in Bath, Somerset, the trust placed in this relationship is crucial to fulfilling Gradwell’s SLA’s and maintaining low operational costs. Gradwell has already seen promising signs of the improvements to stability that this brings. Finally, thanks to the new technology, Gradwell is experiencing a significant speed and capacity boost. The biggest speed increase is in disk storage, where the 3PAR storage system is supplying the most requested files from flash memory rather than disk.
“The speed and capacity improvements are already translating into a reduction in bottlenecks during busy periods. We’ve been able to increase the number of comms links and number of interconnects which increases the availability of the service we can offer. Achieving this setup was testament to the service levels and migration expertise of Telehouse” adds Taylor.