Enterprise Cloud Computing
Case Study: Cloud Success Precipitates an Upgrade
GNAX is now providing its customers higher-bandwidth access to a whole range of new services
Dec. 19, 2011 05:30 AM
Before it started asking vendors its questions about how to upgrade to support rapid growth in customer cloud-bandwidth demands, Global Net Access (GNAX) spent a lot of time and effort on finding its own answers.
The investment in homework paid off. Today, GNAX has a very scalable and flexible connectivity solution between its 70,000-square-foot Atlanta data center and a nearby Telx interconnection facility. The upgrade allows the provider of data center services, colocation, cloud computing and managed hosting to offer its varied customers bandwidth access reaching 160 gigabytes and low-latency links to potentially hundreds of U.S. and international carriers, financial exchanges and media application providers.
What business drivers brought GNAX to its decision to upgrade, and how did it go about achieving the right mix of upfront and ongoing cost efficiencies and long-term scalability that it required?
On the Cusp of the Cloud Wave
For customers across diverse markets such as health care, government and technology, GNAX strives to fully integrate the protocol stack across its fully owned facilities and provide mission-critical, enterprise-grade solutions at affordable, small-business prices. By shouldering the network and IT responsibilities, GNAX seeks to free its customers to focus on the end-user applications, improve their performance at reduced expense and increase organizational agility.
It's an increasingly popular value proposition among customers, who are in dire need of more and more bandwidth, unencumbered connectivity and less complexity. GNAX, consequently, has been in fast-growth mode (retaining net income profitability since 2003), and it has steadily innovated its operations to capitalize on the cloud trend:
The next big advance was completed just this year: deployment of flexible and scalable wavelength division multiplexing (WDM).
Doing Its Homework
To maintain the competitive pricing of its services, GNAX had to be very cognizant of the downstream costs that today's technology's choice might portend tomorrow. That meant factors such as power efficiency, space requirements and maintenance needs would have to be assessed; the solution would have to grow cost-effectively with fast-growing GNAX over time. Plus, because GNAX is under competitive pressure to offer and live up to exacting service-level agreements (SLAs), reliability was a critical consideration. Consequently, GNAX sought a pragmatic solution with fewer possibilities for failure.
Choosing the right solution started with a lot of studying. Multiple engineers within GNAX did their own independent research on technologies and then consolidated notes into a report to the company's chief operating officer. Each agreed WDM was the right technology for GNAX, and they were given no restrictions as to which vendor's products to deploy.
GNAX focused its vendor search around three top priorities: a low upfront cost, small footprint, as "green" an implementation as possible and passive technology to support the best uptimes. And then it started reaching out to potential partners.
GNAX heard a bunch of vendor pitches and asked lots of questions: What if we have a failure here? ... What if we need to deliver more bandwidth there? ... How much is this going to cost? ... How much is this really going to cost - initially and over the years? GNAX listened not only for the right answers, but also for honest answers the first time.
Evaluating the Options
GNAX liked the fact that the ADVA FSP 3000 is not so intricate that it can't be cost-efficiently maintained. Its carrier-grade protection and redundancy capabilities give GNAX the confidence that its SLAs will be met, and the passive, powerless configuration eliminates potential sources of outages. Also, its small-footprint, modular architecture leverages rack-mountable shelves, hot-swappable modules, universal cards, transparent interfaces and qualifications with all leading storage area network (SAN) vendors allow GNAX to easily provision services of any standard protocol today and to dynamically meet its customers' emerging requirements later. There would be no forklift upgrades required downstream.
Even after deciding on which solution it would deploy, GNAX worked through perhaps 20 iterations of models and functionality before settling on the ideal configuration for its needs.
No Hiccups, No Surprises
With the upgrade, GNAX is now providing its customers higher-bandwidth access to a whole range of new services, such as Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and video traffic at higher speeds. Moreover, with a widening array of enterprise customers looking to the cloud for sophisticated application support, GNAX is positioned to flexibly grow its infrastructure services in step with heightened customer demand.
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