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Case Study

Ambientia

Digitisation steered by software-defined data centre technology

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As a leading-edge software developer, Ambientia has every reason to have high ambitions for its own IT infrastructure. A software-defined storage platform supported by Proact enables Ambientia to build and deliver cloud-ready applications tailored to customer needs. When it came to building this solution, zero downtime was the first, but not only, critical equirement.

Challenge

With 170 professionals on its staff in seven offices across Finland and Estonia, Ambientia has enjoyed more than 20 years of successful growth. Ambientia develops key business applications to support today’s digital enterprises, helping them drive digital transformation.“Our basic idea is to enable customers to make their businesses go digital,” says Matias Mäkinen, Ambientia’s Director of Cloud Services.

For its development projects, Ambientia prefers using commercial tools based on open source technology. Today, this includes the Red Hat OpenShift platform, with state-of-the-art container technology for building cloud-native applications. As a Platinum Expert and Enterprise Expert partner of Atlassian, Ambientia also leverages the latest tools for software lifecycle management, including development support and maintenance.
From the outset, Ambientia has experienced – and has actually been driving – a fundamental shift to the cloud as the environment of choice for its customer projects.

“We follow a multi-cloud strategy for the solutions we deliver, allowing customers to choose the deployment option best suited for them – including public clouds such as Azure, AWS or Google,” says Matias Mäkinen.

The challenge

To meet customer expectations and to stay competitive, Ambientia always looks to adopt new technology, but must do so in a smart, predictable way. Through NetApp’s ONTAP data management software and storage platform, Ambientia has extended its use of software-defined data centre technology to include storage. For Ambientia, this offers clear benefits not only for its internal operations, but for product development and ultimately for customers as well. For instance, NetApp’s Trident storage orchestrator enables Ambientia to design applications where storage volumes are created on demand. Previously, storage volumes had to be pre-provisioned and manually registered before they could be consumed by an application.

“Software-defined storage is a must today. We want to bring storage management as close to the application as possible, allowing our developers to build full-stack cloud solutions tailored to individual customer needs,” says Matias Mäkinen.

Proact is an excellent IT partner, not only for support and maintenance. We also appreciate them as a good source of news, sharing information and letting us know what’s brewing in the storage world.
Matias Mäkinen, Director of Cloud Services, Ambientia

How we helped

To manage Ambientia’s transformation and enable development for all clouds, the company’s own IT infrastructure has evolved over time. For more than a decade, Proact has supported Ambientia’s three data centres, which now form a private cloud. At the heart of this infrastructure you’ll find a server environment with some 600 virtual machines and clustered NetApp FAS All-Flash (AFF) storage arrays, together with backup and archiving using low-cost mass storage.

“Even as we have performed many upgrades over time and data volumes are growing rapidly, we have recorded no unplanned downtime in our storage platform during more than 12 years with Proact and NetApp as our partners,” says Matias Mäkinen. “Proact is an excellent IT partner, not only for support and maintenance. We also appreciate them as a good source of news, sharing information and letting us know what’s brewing in the storage world.”

Real-world requirements on storage

Ambientia believes simplicity is the key to reliability, which is the single most critical part of their storage requirements. “If you keep the infrastructure as simple as possible, the applications we develop and deliver as a service will be more reliable, and managing our operations will be more cost-effective as well,” says Matias Mäkinen.

There are a number of additional factors which influence Ambientia’s choice of storage solution and how it is operated:

Flexibility: Ambientia wants a storage platform which adapts easily to different applications and use cases. For instance, with its NetApp platform, there is no need to maintain separate solutions for block and file storage. Backup and archiving functions are integrated with main storage, which also helps reduce complexity.

Predictability: Ambientia values predictability in storage – both in regular operations, as evidenced by stable performance, and during failure scenarios – knowing that data can be reliably restored and how long it will take. From Ambienta’s experience, lack of performance in itself is seldom an issue, and even less so today, when solid state Flash technology is replacing magnetic disk storage.

Lifecycle costs: Ambienta has found that modern storage technology demands very little regular maintenance. A low total cost of ownership (TCO) is what matters most, and by staying with a storage architecture which continuously evolves and offers an attractive upgrade path, lifecycle costs are minimised.

Benefits

  • Cost-effective
    Low TCO/lifecycle costs with predictable upgrade path
  • Flexible
    Software defined storage facilitates adaptation to different use cases
  • New functionality
    On-demand automated storage provisioning built into customer applications
  • Added value
    Partnership with Proact includes updates and consulting on new technology

Key components

  • Clustered NetApp FAS storage arrays in three data centres
  • All Flash storage controllers
  • Software defined storage using NetApp ONTAP
  • NetApp Trident storage orchestrator
  • NetApp SnapVault backup
  • Private cloud with 600+ VMs
  • 200+ containers in Ambientia’s Red Hat OpenShift SaaS platform
  • Proact Premium Support
We believe Ambientia is a role model for modern service providers. They are adopting new technologies to meet customer expectations. Ambientia understands the usual key pain points in IT projects and how to address these by means of innovative technology and solutions.
Samuli Kunttu, Presales consultant, Proact

About Ambientia

Ambientia is dedicated to building digital solutions and services which provide their owners and users with the best opportunities in e-commerce, software development, digital processes, and by introducing new, intelligent technologies. The company provides consultation, planning, development and implementation to leading enterprises, both in the private and public sector. Ambientia has 170 employees with offices in Helsinki, Hämeenlinna, Joensuu, Tampere, Turku, Tallinn and Tartu. Ambientia is among the Top 50 fastest growing technology companies in Finland.

www.ambientia.fi

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