Just Dial Powers its Mission-Critical Intranet and Extranet Applications on Red Hat Enterprise Linux

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May 5, 2010

Customer: Just Dial Private Limited

Industry: Services
Geography: APAC
Country: India


Business Challenge:

To design reliable, stable, high-performance, and cost-effective IT systems that can scale with business growth

Migration Path:

Microsoft DOS-based platform to Red Hat Enterprise Linux Advanced Platform

Solution:

Migrated Microsoft DOS-based client server system to a web-based system based on an open architecture.

Software:

Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Red Hat Enterprise Linux Advanced Platform, Apache Web Server, MySQL Database (Approx. size is in the range of 50 to 100 GB)

Hardware:

215 Intel Xeon processor-based Dell 2950 PowerEdge servers

Benefits:

Increased flexibility and choice by freeing the organization from vendor lock-in, decreased IT costs, simplified management, reduced systems maintenance, and increased scalability, performance, and reliability

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Background:

Just Dial is Indiaand#x2019;s top-ranking local search engine. The company caters to over 25 million unique users spread across 240 cities in India. Just Dialand#x2019;s local search service is available on phone, web, WAP and SMS. Just Dial currently employs 3,000 in its work force and has more than 100,000 SME advertisers. The company bridges the gap between buyers and sellers by helping buyers find the right providers of products and services, while helping sellers improve the efficiency of their marketing channels. Just Dial has raised three rounds of strategic investments from California-based venture fund Sequoia Capital; New York-based Hedge Fund Tiger Global, and Hong Kong-based SAIF partners. The company is in advanced stages of launching its local search service in North America on a toll free number and#x201c;1-800-justdialand#x201d;. Going forward the company intends to leverage the Just Dial brand and know- how for an international franchise.

Business Challenge:

Approximately three years ago, Just Dial embarked on an ambitious project to make a client-facing website so as to further help its customers in addition to the telephonic service that it used to provide. Earlier, Just Dial had a DOS-based system built in Foxpro. Apart from its obvious limitation that it was a client server-based system, it also had several performance issues that were slowing the system. The system was becoming a bottleneck in Just Dial’s quest of prompt service delivery. Just Dial management was expecting more queries on the website as compared to the telephonic queries. “This meant that there is going to be huge performance pressure on our searching algorithms,” said Sandipan Chattopadhyay, CTO, Just Dial.

Additionally, Just Dial had ambitious expansion plans of extending from eight to 40 cities , which amounted to an approximately 300 percent increase in the load on their IT infrastructure. “Keeping all these factors in mind, we needed an IT platform that is flexible, reliable, scalable, high on performance, and cost-effective at the same time,” said Sandipan. “Since its inception, Just Dial has always been at the forefront of the technology adoption. So, while making a transition from client server-based systems to a web-based system, we decided to go for open architecture,” he adds.

Solution:

With flexibility, reliability, scalability, cost, and system performance criteria in mind, Just Dial chose Red Hat as its trusted technology partner and decided to build its infrastructure based on open source solutions. Red Hat’s open source solutions were an ideal fit as they not only met these criteria, but also allowed Just Dial to take advantage of the rapid innovation from the open source community and avoid proprietary lock-in.

“Embracing open source gave us tremendous thrust in experimenting with the technology as our software is intuitive and fast changing,” said Sandipan. “It has also provided us with the necessary freedom at every level in optimizing our systems to the best of our usage,” he adds. Just Dial has based its systems, both the intranet and the extranet, on LAMP (Linux – Apache – MySQL – PHP) architecture. “We call it CLAMP architecture as we also use C programming for further optimization of our algorithms,” explains Sandipan.

Red Hat plays a significant role in the server segment as almost every server is powered by Red Hat Enterprise Linux. Just Dial’s mission-critical systems, both web-based and telephonic, run on Red Hat Enterprise Linux. “We chose MySQL as our database as our search is parameterized, and based on advanced artificial intelligence principles,” said Sandipan. “And the performance of MySQL is best on Linux, specifically on Red Hat,” he adds. Further, Red Hat’s innovative and evolving culture, which is typical of any open source company, resonates with that of Just Dial.

“Red Hat has enabled us in obtaining the best performance from our ever-evolving systems,” said Sandipan. “Red Hat’s open source philosophy means that we just need to tweak a few parameters to fit our unique needs and thus there is no need to rediscover the wheel,” he adds.

Red Hat based solutions also helped Just Dial manage their IT systems more effectively. “Red Hat Enterprise Linux is very robust. We don’t have to worry about virus attacks or stack overflows,” said Mahesh Pawar, Corporate Manager – IT, Just Dial. “Even though the server count has increased by more than twenty times (20x), we manage the infrastructure with almost the same team size, and with better peace of mind,” he added.

“We have given complete independence to our IT team for optimizing the performance of Linux-based systems and in Red Hat, we have found a perfect partner in supporting such an independent behavior,” said Sandipan. “We have ensured that everyone in the organization is empowered with the software,” he adds. Such a collaborative model of system design and development has made a huge business impact for Just Dial and it allows the company to give the innovation that takes place inside Just Dial back to the open source community. “In the past, algorithms and best practices have been donated. In the coming months, we plan to publish best practices on how to optimize MySQL on Red Hat Enterprise Linux,” Sandipan adds.

Currently, Red Hat Enterprise Linux powers more than 200 servers in Just Dial for its various intranet and extranet applications. These applications are accessed by thousands of Just Dial’s telemarketing officers from 40 cities in India and lacs of online users from all over India on a day-to-day basis. “Three years back, our executives used to attend close to a total of 80,000 calls per day. That figure has crossed 250,000 as of today,” said Sandipan. “Red Hat Enterprise Linux has helped us tremendously in serving our customers effectively, thereby achieving our business objectives quite rationally,” he adds.

In the future, Just Dial has ambitious plans to expand outside of India and it is banking on the underlying technology to attain such dream. “We are soon launching our services in the U.S. and in a span of two to three years we will be opening our franchisees in 40 to 45 countries,” said Sandipan. Red Hat, along with other open source solutions, has helped Just Dial to maintain such a high growth by providing a robust technology backbone. “Our business has always been continuously expanding and without open source in general, and Red Hat in particular, we could not have scaled with that growth,” he says.

Benefits:

“With Red Hat, we were able to extract tremendous performance from our systems and applications,” said Sandipan. “Red Hat freed us from vendor lock-in, and enabled the organization to choose hardware platforms that delivered flexibility and high performance,” he added.

Red Hat solutions also provided Just Dial with lower IT costs due to simplified management and reduced systems maintenance.“With the same team size, we could easily grow from five servers to more than 200 servers,” said Sandipan. “By the year end, our server count will reach 350 but we are confident to handle this growth with the same team size,” he adds.

Red Hat solutions also provided Just Dial with the necessary freedom and independence to experiment and optimize the solutions in ways that is suitable for its business needs.

Overall, Red Hat enabled Just Dial to achieve its grand vision by providing it with enterprise-class solutions that are scalable, taking into consideration their rapid growth, without any compromise on performance and at an affordable price. “Open Source in general and Red Hat in particular has allowed us to dream big and to attain grand vision of our CEO, Mr. Mani,” said Sandipan.

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