This article was first published in the Winter 2014 issue of Speak
Websites offering comparison services face big expectations. The day that visitors don’t get up-to-date information on the best deals online could be the last day they visit. High-performance IT systems with the power to crunch large quantities of data fast are everything.
Leading shopping comparison website LeGuide.com has to meet the expectations of consumers across Europe. In each of the 14 countries where it operates, the pressure is the same.
LeGuide.com’s experience in the market was crucial when it acquired shopping portal Ciao from Microsoft. Up against a strict deadline for taking over the operation, LeGuide.com understood how important it was that Ciao customers were unaffected by the switch. Faced with this challenge, the organisation developed a new vision of a unified platform featuring both Ciao and LeGuide.com services, based on a hybrid IT platform.
Next, LeGuide.com looked for support. It needed a solution provider that was willing to meet the tight deadline and could deliver the technology and services to relocate the existing IT data centre, merge the companies’ systems and offer cloud services.
“We were under no illusions – this was going to be a challenging project,” says Mohammed Bellamine, chief operating officer at LeGuide.com. “We had an immovable date from Microsoft and needed a solution provider that would engage on a global solution and go the extra mile to make it work.”
Bellamine approached a number of vendors and quickly realised the project’s timeframe was proving problematic for many of them. But LeGuide.com got the response it was looking for from Dell. “Many people said this was mission impossible,” he says. “But Dell’s response was, ‘no problem, we can do it’.”
Bellamine felt confident that Dell could deliver on its promises, since both companies had a history of working together successfully. “We had experience with Dell solutions and services, having expanded the LeGuide.com platform with Dell servers,” he says. “So when I told Dell that I needed its teams to deliver the hardware, software and cloud services, I kind of expected the answer to be yes – and it definitely was.”
LeGuide.com successfully designed a hybrid platform with the help of Dell Consulting Services. There was extensive collaboration throughout and numerous iterations of the design plans before the infrastructure was given the go-ahead.
“We visualised the architecture in three layers,” explains Bellamine. “The first layer was a traditional physical part. On top of that, we wanted a private cloud environment and then a third cloud-on-demand layer. This would come into play during peak periods when traffic to the site spikes dramatically. We worked with different teams from Dell and they were all on board with the project from day one. They were responsive to our needs and worked really hard to make sure that work stayed on schedule.”
The company now has a mostly virtualised IT infrastructure that’s leaner, and easier to manage and scale. The on-premise solution is based on Dell PowerEdge R620, R420 and R320 rack servers with Intel Xeon processors running CentOS and Windows Server 2012. Storage is provided by Dell EqualLogic PS6100S storage arrays, which are optimised for virtualised environments, providing input/output performance that’s fast enough for the most demanding applications. Plus, both servers and storage offer management flexibility to help minimise downtime and administration.
“We’ve gone from 250 servers in our environment to just 150 – a reduction of 40% – with our Dell solution,” says Bellamine. “When you cut down that much IT, you also cut down on management time and cost. We plan to use this success to streamline our infrastructure still further and merge the Ciao portal with our legacy infrastructure.”
Customers can expect a great user experience on LeGuide.com regardless of the time of year. Because of the platform’s hybrid cloud capabilities, the business can ramp up capacity on demand to cope with any sudden spikes in site visitors during peak periods. And performance is ensured by Dell partner Quadria, which delivers the solution as Dell Managed Services.
“Thanks to Dell Cloud Services, we can boost capacity at peak periods while maintaining the same level of security as our on-premise infrastructure,” says Bellamine. “This is the kind of flexibility that the industry requires.”
LeGuide.com customers now get a better level of service thanks to the successful migration of the Ciao portal to its own data centre and the switch to a new infrastructure for existing LeGuide.com systems.
“LeGuide.com has entered a new phase in its development,” says Bellamine. “The Ciao service has increased both our customer base and our service offering, plus our adoption of cloud technologies gives us more flexibility. Combine these elements and we can offer richer services to more customers much faster. It’s easier for us to be innovative with our Dell solution – and meet the challenges of staying ahead in a rapidly evolving online world.”
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