Each year, our sister publication Computer Dealer News hosts the Channel Elite Awards to recognize IT Solution Provider for their innovation, leadership, and commitment for creating value for their customers. As Canada’s leading IT channel publication, CDN invited solution providers to submit their best work to nine different categories for 2013’s awards. Here, we present the case studies these award nominees put forward to us. Find out who the big winners are on Sept. 11 when CDN presents them at the CEA Awards Gala.

Learn more about CDN’s Channel Elite Awards 2013

Nominee: OnX from Thornhill, Ontario

Cloud Solution description

ShawCor Ltd. is a growth-oriented, global energy services company that operates through seven divisions which focus on technology-based products and services for the pipeline and pipe services market and the petrochemical and industrial market with manufacturing and service facilities located in over fifteen countries around the world. ShawCor had deployed an ERP application on physical hardware in their own existing data center and the servers were running at maximum capacity. To meet continued demand on the application, ShawCor had to write a cheque for new servers, wait for them to arrive and then deploy them in order to keep up. In addition they had a single point of failure in that there was not a secondary fail over option for Disaster Recovery. OnX delivered a high-availability, virtual managed tenant, IaaS cloud solution to support the initial ERP deployment. This solution resides in the OnX dual data center VCE Vblock cloud, the only cloud built to such high standards in Canada. The initial solution includes over 20 virtual servers with fail over capabilities, data backup and restore services, redundant bandwidth, OS management, patching, firewall security, and end to end monitoring and reporting. In addition to the initial deployment OnX had helped the client with three additional large deployments, leveraging the dedicated public and hybrid cloud capabilities.

What type of cloud architecture was deployed and how were these decisions made with security in mind?

OnX delivers a dedicated public cloud environment which leverages the benefits of public converged infrastructure but fully commits resources to each individual client environment, thereby ensuring the performance of the applications. The solution also required a large database whose applications licensing restrictions meant that it required a dedicated server cluster in addition to the cloud. OnX was able to customize a hybrid solution and was able to work with the clients existing license agreement, thereby avoiding additional large capital requirements that other providers were insisting on. Because ShawCor is publicly traded, the highest standards of security and compliance needed to be demonstrated. Through our ability to show our facilities and cloud are audited by external 3rd parties (both PCI DSS as well as SSAE16) and our extensive client list running other mission-critical applications in the OnX cloud, ShawCor knew that their data would be secure.

How does this solution push the boundaries of a typical cloud computing solution and qualify as innovative?

OnX is the only provider in Canada that offers a dual data center Vblock cloud configuration (confirmed by VCE and I can provide a reference), which allows for both primary production and secondary fail over, in country compute and management, and can Federate with existing data center solutions on client premises. OnX Federated Cloud is unique in that we have built it from scratch with the intention of full flexibility to meet an organizations existing – as well as ever changing unknown needs. This means that clients can access some dedicated traditional private hosting, some fully managed cloud and some self-serve cloud or a hybrid solution of all three. All services are delivered and supported by the same centralized team – which means clients are not shuffled from department to department – and the client can count on one simple bill every month that is predictable.

Why was this type of cloud solution the right choice for this business case?

ShawCor required an environment that would allow them to be live in a fraction of the time a traditional environment would take to be live, after ordering hardware and installing it etc. The OnX cloud was a natural fit to improve the time to market and avoid any upfront infrastructure costs as well. In addition, because the organization is expanding rapidly, the cloud allows them to scale on demand without any delay or significant cost to add resources, especially as new applications are added to the environment. Traditional IT deployments require a large up front capital investment to build a lot of capacity that may never be used and is slow to react to growth demands.

How was the success of the system measured and what were the results?

ShawCor estimates that saved approximately $1million in server infrastructure capital by not having to deploy new servers. In addition the organization has avoided costly downtime and has greatly improved their operating efficiencies as an IT organization who serves the rest of the ShawCor organization as a broker for services. The initial intent was to move the ERP application to a stable environment to deliver high availability and end user performance expectations. This deployment was fast and seamless and the migration avoided any undeclared downtime of any sort. Once completed, we were immediately onto the next project to move an additional large server farm from their colocation facility and then a third migration of additional compute requirements. ShawCor can now focus on their core business and rest assured their mission critical applications will be always available and always secure.

How did the design and implementation of the solution break new ground for you as a solution provider?

First, OnX has traditionally been pegged as a hardware and software provider so the perception challenge is that we are not a large cloud outsourcing provider, something we were quick to address through presentations, meetings and references. The solution posed a challenge as it was large, required an aggressive timeline for implementation and had a lot of moving parts in terms of scope. Technically, any large data base can be a challenge to run in a multi-tenant environment due to licence agreement restrictions. OnX Solution Architects sat down, listened to the client, came back to the lab and came up with a unique hybrid environment that delivers the applications in the cloud but meets the application requirements for the database through taking a hybrid approach. In addition, OnX was able to use the clients existing licence agreement, something that the other large telco’s would not agree to and would have added a large unnecessary cost to moving to the cloud.

How does the solution further your client’s green or environmentally friendly plans?

This solution allows the client to retire old, inefficient hardware and move to a converged infrastructure cloud which is much more efficient from a power and cooling consumption requirement. In addition, because the client’s environment is in a multi-tenant cloud, the y not have to order and deploy individual servers any longer, reducing the need to large manufacturing of hardware. Finally, because OnX can free cool the facility in the winter months, we can help all clients reduce their environmental footprint over what they would traditionally deploy in house.

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