A car auction company wanted to explore better disaster recovery options for their critical online auctions. They had never worked in the cloud before and wondered if it might work for them. They turned to SPR Consulting to help them kick the tires and take a test drive, to see if the cloud could provide the levels of security and flexibility that they were looking for.
Since the client’s current system was running entirely on premises, they had a standard disaster recovery practice set up – two data centers and replication, so if one goes down, they could switch to the other. However, the time it took to “fail over” – switch from the down system to the running system – was unacceptably long. With auctions happening in real time throughout the day and night, being offline for any length of time was a business killer.
First, SPR Consulting did a short research engagement to see how they could leverage the cloud and meet the client’s goals. They looked at whether they could leverage certain cloud PaaS (platform as a service) options in which Microsoft would handle their servers for them. SPR looked at simplicity vs. flexibility, compared and recommended what they could and couldn’t do and made recommendations for them.
The team selected Microsoft Azure for several reasons: It offers infrastructure on-demand, scaling up and down to meet the system’s needs at any given time. This offers the client flexibility and a less costly pay-as-you-go system, rather than purchasing and maintaining expensive servers that may not be used to capacity often.
Originally the in-house team was slated to implement the solution, but at the last minute, SPR was called in to do it. The biggest hurdle SPR faced was the separation of the client’s development and infrastructure/operations departments. Although a common occurrence in many organizations, when information is not shared openly between these departments, projects can suffer. Decisions on the front end can adversely affect the back end, and vice versa, if requirements and issues are not discussed in a timely fashion. This lack of information sharing slowed the development and implementation timeframes unnecessarily. During training, SPR Consulting made a point to try to get the two departments to work together since both were learning the new cloud technology.
SPR Consulting was able to leverage a new technology successfully that had not used before by the client – and on their most critical application. SPR consultants acted as the client’s cloud experts in designing the system, and then mentored and trained the in-house teams to complete and manage the installation.