Utilities Software Company Implements Hybrid Cloud and Cuts Deployment Time from Weeks to Hours



About the Company

Specializing in software solutions for electric, gas, and water utilities, the company’s flagship product is a platform for managing, integrating and optimizing smart grid and smart meter technologies. They operate worldwide with an especially robust presence in the United States and India.

The Vision and Challenge

Being a global business, the company works with a number of installation partners and world-class vendors to implement software solutions at utility companies around the world. To help these partners deliver the best service possible, the company has offered intensive “boot camp” training on how to properly install and manage its metering solutions.

That’s where the primary challenge came in. “These boot camps are very system-intensive,” explains the senior systems administrator. “We need a lot of short-term resources to get an installation underway. After those first few weeks, our bandwidth requirements drop considerably.”

In the past, that meant buying enough hardware to absorb the impact of a heavy workload, with the full knowledge that the workload would soon change. “A lot of our hardware was underused,” says the senior systems administrator. “The complicating factor for us is that it’s very difficult to buy a piece of equipment in India. Taxes and regulations are complicated. Some technologies aren’t available in every area of the country. As a result, it can take months to procure just one piece of hardware.”

To expand further into India—and to grow its footprint elsewhere—the company needed a more flexible solution for deploying compute resources on demand. “We’re a small team,” the senior systems administrator elaborates. “Like most IT groups, we’re smaller than we’d like to be. Everybody’s pressed for time and resources. Under those circumstances, it’s just not feasible to be managing a patchwork of hardware installations on the other side of the globe.”

The Outcome

The IT team looked at a number of options for creating a more flexible environment—everything from the public cloud to physical hosting services. “We have a significant hardware investment in our datacenter, and some of our internal customers’ hardware installations simply can’t be virtualized,” the senior systems administrator says. “The only model that made sense for us was the hybrid cloud.”

The company had virtualized approximately 60 percent of its workload in-house, but the IT organization’s approach to virtualization was ad hoc rather than unified. Now the IT team wanted to determine if VMware had the right technology for a more focused and proactive migration toward cloud computing. To help guide their decision, they turned to InterVision.

“InterVision was a perfect fit for us. Their hosted cloud infrastructure was compatible with the environment we already had in place. And from the beginning, they collaborated with us to find just the right configuration. I feel like they’re part of my own team.” —Senior Systems Administrator
The company engaged with InterVision for a proof of concept that demonstrated nearly instant results. “We took clones of our systems, moved them to the cloud and turned them on,” says the senior systems administrator. “The setup took less than a day. With any other type of service, we would’ve needed at least a week to build servers from scratch.”

The IT team could now see their path forward. Within a matter of months, the customer had upgraded their entire virtualized environment in InterVision’s hosted cloud, with the goal of continuing to virtualize as much of their environment as possible while also moving relevant workloads to InterVision’s datacenter ecosystem.

Approximately 95 percent of the customer’s ecosystem now runs on VMware-based technology.
“The ability to use the same technology across multiple environments is a big deal. I’m able to see everything in a single control panel, moving virtual machines with literally the click of a button. It’s just so easy.” —Senior Systems Administrator
For the senior systems administrator, the primary value of a VMware-based hybrid cloud is the solution’s elasticity. For the first time, deploying resources in India—and elsewhere—is no more complicated than deploying in the U.S. “We custom design our software,” he says. “Every customer needs their own stack. With InterVision environments, we can do rapid prototyping and perform test case scenarios in days, not weeks. With access to InterVision’s cost management portal, we can tell internal customers exactly how much a deployment will cost them beforehand, because I know exactly how much it will cost me. That’s a game-changer.”

In one case, access to on-demand InterVision environments based on VMware vCloud saved the company from what might have been a costly delay in India. “Our customer managed to destroy their sandbox environment in the middle of an installation,” says the senior systems administrator. “I got the call in the middle of the night, and within three hours I had them up and running in the cloud. In fact, it took me longer to set up the VPN than to build out a new system. Only a few years ago, that same task would have required at least four or five business days.”

By cutting capital expenses and minimizing operational costs, the company is seeing major gains in productivity, which translates into competitive advantage. “I’m cutting out 10 hours per week in purely administrative tasks,” says the senior systems administrator. “Our entire team is more agile, and we can use the time we’re saving to develop new products, release new features and get to market faster. That helps us stay in front of the competition.”

Looking Ahead

The IT team continues to look for more opportunities to virtualize and automate their infrastructure. “By moving to a hybrid cloud, we’ve opened up a tremendous number of possibilities,” the senior systems administrator remarks. “In the coming months, we hope to pursue a self-provisioning model so that internal customers can build their own environments, which will shorten deployment times even further. And that’s just the beginning—I see so many opportunities for making the most of this technology.”

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