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Infoplex - 2008 Red Hat Innovation Award Winner
July 18, 2008
Customer: Infoplex Pty Ltd
Infoplex is one of Australia’s fastest growing and most dynamic IT managed service providers. Based in St. Leonards, Australia, it specializes in delivering an innovative and diversified range of services to both private and public sector clients. Offerings include on-demand storage, disaster recovery, and collocation services as well as software as a service (SaaS). Currently, the Infoplex Group has 55 employees in the firm’s three functional divisions: Infoplex Managed Services, Infoplex Procurement Services, and ThinkSecure Security Consulting. It is a wholly owned subsidiary of Leighton Holdings Limited, the publicly listed parent company of Australia’s largest project development and contracting group.
A top business priority for Infoplex has always been effectively managing and storing the data files entrusted to it for safekeeping by its SaaS customers. But the rapid growth of Infoplex’s business caused the size and number of such files to increase to the point where Infoplex’s IT infrastructure was pushed to its limits. It was clear the company needed a more robust and scalable infrastructure to handle its success.
“Our customers need to concentrate on their own core businesses, so it’s up to us to ensure their information systems operate effectively with minimal downtime” said Sean Kaye, managing director of Infoplex. “We needed a platform that could scale as our business continued to grow.”
The particular project that Infoplex needed help with involved building the system to support its largest SaaS offering a leading document management and collaboration system for the Asia-Pacific region’s booming construction industry, and demand for its services was rapidly outstripping Infoplex’s system capacity.
In addition to needing better scalability, there was also a significant cost issue related to reliability. “It got to the point where we had nearly 75 projects running on our system, and some of those projects valued downtime at around $1 million per hour,” said Kaye. “Any system downtime on our part would have a significant financial impact on our customer’s organization.”
Infoplex’s single most important criteria for selecting a vendor was the quality of support. “We needed the highest quality available – 24 x 7 x 365,” said Kaye. The SaaS application Infoplex was responsible for featured one of the largest Postgres databases in the world, and supported some of Asia-Pacific’s largest construction and engineering enterprises – none of which could afford any downtime. If anything went wrong, Infoplex needed to know that its vendor would respond immediately. “We reviewed a number of alternative Linux distributions but ultimately we kept coming back to Red Hat,” said Kaye. He was particularly impressed with the fact that Red Hat was able to quickly get up to speed on the complex, multi-vendor Infoplex environment, and to provide around-the-clock access to “exceptional” people whenever Infoplex needed them. “We specifically wanted a Tier 1 player, and we got one who exceeded all of our expectations,” said Kaye.
Red Hat was an integral and essential part of Infoplex’s final solution. The system was ultimately based upon the Dell 6850 Pulsar chipset with a number of Dell 2950 Woodcrest servers running Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4, and an EMC Symmetrix storage array that supported a massive Postgres database. The application leveraged Infoplex’s existing Cisco network, and Red Hat Network Satellite was installed to manage, deploy and update the system. Looking forward to future growth, Infoplex also intends to investigate a number of technology paths, including that of virtualization. As part of this, the company is currently testing Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 with a view to a potential upgrade in the near future.
The benefits of deploying the Red Hat products were substantial. Thanks to RHN Satellite , Infoplex was able to migrate from the old architecture to the new within five days. Additionally, the Red Hat Enterprise Linux-based system allowed Infoplex to double its system capacity. Today, the increased scalability of the system provides Infoplex with the ability to host more than 300 projects supporting 30,000 users, and almost half a billion documents amounting to 20TB of data. Moreover, the size of the database is doubling every six months, and revenue derived from it has quadrupled since the implementation 12 months ago. “The support and guidance Red Hat gave us meant we could build on a solid foundation from which we could confidently move ahead,” said Kaye. “Prior to implementing the new system, every time a new customer was brought on board, there was considerable concern that it would push the application over the edge,” but “the new environment removed that deep-seated concern entirely,” said Kaye. “Red Hat enabled us to do all that.”
Kaye advises picking Tier 1 vendors and ensuring the products selected are certified to work on all of the vendor support lists. “The most painful thing in the world in a project like this is finding out that a network interface isn’t supported by one of your vendors or a driver you’re using doesn’t work with product X,” he said. Another piece of advice; Create a virtual team that includes your vendor partners. “Once you select your vendors, you need to make them part of your team,” said Kaye. “Bring them to all meetings and if possible, give them space in your team’s work environment, and put them on your organizational chart. You get the most out of people when they own the success and failure of a project.” Today, whenever there’s a problem with the environment, Red Hat is the first vendor Infoplex contacts. “They are so knowledgeable across so many vendors and products, that picking up the phone and calling them is the quickest and best way of solving any problem,” he said. “We trust Red Hat’s expertise completely.”