We, SIM-Networks, always gladly get feedback from our customers. Each case is unique; each customer's story is one-of-a-kind.
Our partner, Vadim Podovalov, who is the owner and CEO of Іgnis Fatum Ltd., kindly agreed to share his own story about how he decided to cooperate with a German provider of infrastructure solutions and how SIM-Cloud IaaS helped his business to grow.
Actually, the approach described in this case is one-size-fits-all – it can be useful as for those who, planning to start their own business, think about its information organization, and those who want to increase the efficiency of an existing business.
So, we're giving a floor to our customer:
Hello, everybody who already uses the products of SIM-Networks, in particular, SIM-Cloud IaaS, and those who plan to do it, but have not yet taken this chance. I decided to tell you how the cloud helped to launch and grow my business.
My name is Vadim Podovalov. I am the founder and director of Ignis Fatum Ltd., the company that delivers business automation solutions and website development in the Ukrainian market. But it is now.
But a few years ago, our company did not exist yet — we just had a keen desire to start our own business, backed up by seven years of experience in site-building and process automation.
Well, the documents are signed, and the office is rented – now it's time to think about how to organize the company's information structure. Having the IT expertise of many years, I correctly understood that before the business launching, I need to find answers to two key questions — WHAT kind of software we use and WHERE we deploy it.
First of all, we defined those services, apps, and systems that ensure the efficiency of the business. The list of must-haves is as follows:
It is the minimum set of applications and tools which are necessary for an efficient business of any size in any field. Sure, in each case, the business owners choose the software and vendors by themselves. But in general, the software listed above covers the basic needs of the organization and promotion.
The next question is where to place all this stuff. The features of the software listed above provide for the use of two OSs, at least Windows Server for 1C systems and Linux for everything else.
To ensure the productivity and security of your business, you need to deploy your apps and systems in a stable environment where the effects of negative factors are minimized. So, below here are the essential requirements for the corporate information environment.
1. High-speed and safe interaction (data exchange between various modules of ERP, between the accounting system and CRM, between sites and CRM, etc.)
Each of the apps and system modules is highly specialized, and it is crucial to reliably customize their interconnection that is protected from interception from the outside.
Let me explain this interaction as an example: an order is received through the website → CRM system captured it, and the sales manager processed this order → this order is added to the accounting system and then in ERP.
2. Easy system management
The IT environment where your systems are deployed should be intuitive and straightforward to be managed, configured, and supported.
3. Remote connection via a secure communication line, for ensuring the secure remote access from anywhere in the world (remote offices, remote working employees, business trips)
Secure remote access to corporate infrastructure is the call of the times. It's a fairly typical situation when you have to waste time, and often money, waiting for an urgent response from a partner or customer, because he is on vacation, on sick leave, on a local business trip, or abroad, and so on. To eliminate the risk of such losses, establish remote access via a secure channel to connect to the company's IT environment and stay in touch anywhere in the world and under any circumstances.
Remote access to the corporate IT environment is crucially vital if your business is distributed geographically across different regions or continents, or if some of your employees work remotely. Staying in touch, operating in a single information space, is essential if you want your business to grow and generate profits.
4. Infrastructure Information Security
It is a significant risk that is often overlooked by many. Believe me, attempts to hack your corporate systems are a rule, not an exception. Any URLs on the Internet are checked by malicious bots almost daily to find vulnerabilities in protection. You can't see this with the naked eye; often, it does not affect the system's performance, — but it almost always leads to the saddest consequences. Just imagine that one day your client-base is suddenly in the hands of your unscrupulous competitor. This picture is scary, right? So, to prevent this nightmare happen in reality, just think about how to provide reliable protection for your IT environment.
5. To be free from the affection of physical factors, such as power outages or the Internet, etc.
If the system operation interrupts due to any factors affection, the processing of information is slowed down, and, as a result, the company's business processes are frozen. But everyone knows that downtime is always too expensive for the business.
6. Duplication of data to prevent information loss in case of fire, illegal actions, etc.
Most companies, for some reason, overlook this possibility. But no one is safe from accidental fire, a flood, or intruders. Unfortunately, this is a real situation. Such loss of data within with all systems and drives which contain information can lead to the bankruptcy of the entire company.
7. Ensuring the infrastructure and data recovery in case of unforeseen situations
Be sure to provide for the possibility of a quick recovery of all systems and all information in the case of collapse. Of course, we tend to always hope for the best, but a wise approach is to provide for any development of events, even negative ones.
*8. Flexible scalability
Every person in business underwrites that it's hard enough to predict when you need to expand your infrastructure. It straightly depends on business growth. However, the necessity of scale infrastructure should not be trouble. So, it's reasonable to initially provide the possibility of scalable upgrades of your corporate IT infrastructure.
9. Reasonable price
Finally, let's speak about the price. It is not by chance that I write about this in the last paragraph of the list — it is like a summary. The company's internal infrastructure is its health. And as you know, you shouldn't be greedy when it concerns health. On the other hand, it does not make sense to plunge the business into extra costs. Therefore, the project budget should be large enough to allow you to choose the best solution, but at the same time, remain within the limits of reasonable cost-effectiveness.
So, we have listed the list of mandatory requirements for IT infrastructure, the implementation of which will ensure the stability and reliable functioning of your business. The lack of any of these points can lead to disastrous results for the entire company.
Now let me consider the main options for placing infrastructure and analyze the pros and cons of these options. I'll open a little lifehack, which I use not only in business but also in life. If I have several options to choose from, I draw two columns on paper and put down the pros and cons of each option. One where there are more pros is obviously the best option among those considered. Everything is quite simple :)
Definitely, you dream of all systems to work like a dream and strive for business to quickly compensate for all of the costs of the initial investment and become profitable. The best way to get it is to choose the optimal location for corporate IT infrastructure deployment. There is something to think about. I will describe the possible options and their features. I note that I took all these observations from experience in communicating with numerous clients, acquaintances, and partners. And I describe the most distinctive approaches for our market.
Some business owners and company managers are considering the on-premise location is the most secure place for corporate servers. They say, "you can see your server at any time, you can touch it, you can hear how it buzzes, so, you will be sure that everything with your apps and systems is OK." (Oh, seriously?) As a result, the servers are located “somewhere in the office,” in places that are usually not made suitable for this — e.g., underground storerooms, cock-loft, utility room, or the CEO's office.
Stop, guys! An office is a place with a huge list of risks, and ensuring the normal functioning of the server room can cost tens of thousands of dollars (for redundant power supply systems, air conditioning systems to maintain the temperature and humidity — yes, servers also need to live in comfort :)
Besides, to build and support such a system, it is necessary to have several (tens!) top-notch qualified specialists on staff. Otherwise, even the most expensive server equipment can be likened to a Ferrari 330, which is used for shopping trips to supermarkets.
And one more point. Do not forget that, despite the “one-time” purchase of equipment, you will spend vast money on its depreciation, maintenance of operability, and technological relevance for many years.
In this case, you rent dedicated servers or VDS located in professional datacenters equipped with redundant power supplies and communication lines and served by highly-qualified experts. Datacenters have state-of-art systems of protection against physical impact (access control, video surveillance of the perimeter, security and fire alarms, fire protection and air conditioning systems, etc.), and advanced encryption tools usually encrypt data transfer channels. If you wish, you can even transfer your servers (if any) for hosting and supporting them in the provider's data center. This service is called colocation. Server colocation is a good option, but it is more match for a single server.
Building a secure virtual network among your servers within your corporate infrastructure in the provider's datacenter is possible. But the bandwidth and data transfer speed may be limited by the bandwidth of Internet communication and other factors (depending on the hosting, location of the servers, etc.).
An important nuance: such a network setting, you would still be performed manually, and is not a walk in the park.
When I'm asked what a cloud is, I reply — "The cloud is resources." At the hardware level, it can be hundreds of servers, combined using a specialized system into a single entity. When you rent a cloud, you specify what resources (CPU, RAM, storage volume, etc.) you need. These resources are allocated to you and work only for you.
Working in a cloud environment, you operate with all the resources that you ordered. Based on these resources, you create and manage virtual servers (instances). If you need additional resources on some server, you can order them or simply "transfer" them from one server to another.
The entire physical infrastructure of the cloud cluster ensures fault-tolerance and high availability of services. All data exchange between servers in the cloud, as well as through a communication channel between the cloud and the client, is encrypted. It minimizes the risk of information interception. Dozens of professional system administrators of the provider monitor the status of the system around the clock and provide it with trouble-free operation.
Managing your infrastructure in the cloud is easy: using an intuitive control panel, you can add or remove a server, allocate resources within instances, and configure a LAN to connect nodes. And each operation will take you only a few minutes.
Do you remember, I said that I use a simple table to analyze options and choose the best? Thinking about the place to deploy the IT environment for my company, I used this method. And now, I'll share with you the results of my thoughts.
This table reflects my own vision and it does not claim to be the ultimate truth. I considered the “basic” capabilities of infrastructure platforms. As I told above, it is possible to build a mini-data center in the office, but I considered the “typical on-premise configuration” that I personally observed in more than one company.
I’m sure, conclusions based on this table are obvious to you as they are to me. And I can’t help but share my visual association with the table above:
Yes, exactly, I think the cloud is the top species of current information technology. However, I am sure it is not the end, and in the future, both humanity and IT are awaiting the next stage of development.
Therefore, to the question of where to place my corporate IT infrastructure, I answered unequivocally — definitely, in the cloud! For my business, I chose a protected SIM-Cloud IaaS by the German provider of infrastructure solutions SIM-Networks.
Choosing a cloud service provider is a task that requires a serious approach to solve. After all, you do not just choose the platform where your business will actually grow — you choose the roadmap for the development of your business.
For myself, I determined the following criteria, based on which I chose a cloud provider:
Over the years of my working experience in IT, I have come across many companies offering hosting services and infrastructure solutions both in Western Europe and in ex-USSR countries. I will not describe the features of the work of other companies, nor will I advertise anyone. I can only say that I chose SIM-Networks for my business and my clients, and I have never regretted it. Reliability, professionalism, customer-focusing, an individual approach to each request, is precisely what is needed. Thanks to SIM-Networks for good and high-quality work in their segment!
As you already understood, the solution that SIM-Networks experts created for me met all the requirements for corporate IT infrastructure that was important to me. The design of SIM-Cloud IaaS allows ensuring the reliable operation of my business, and high-availability of my systems round-the-clock. It often happens that you need to look at data, for example, from CRM, while on the road or the sick-list — so, I easily and quickly get it from the cloud. Data security, provided by advanced hardware and software protection tools, is on-top. For several years of my partnership with SIM-Networks, I tried the scalability of cloud resources. It is swift, simple, and very convenient. Having registered in the SIM-Networks affiliate program, I recommend their services to my customers, and I want to note that my clients using SIM-Cloud are also very pleased with this cloud service.
And now let me summarize the main result:
To ensure the operation of the corporate IT infrastructure of my business and the deployment of all systems, I needed two cloud servers, one working day of a technical expert to customize the infrastructure, and 90 Euro per month.
Thank you for your attention! I hope my story will be useful for those who start their own business or optimize their existing infrastructure.
CEO of Ignis Fatum Ltd.
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