Sector: Retail, IT Consultancy Services
Technology: Cloud, Infrastructure
Products: AWS Cloud Environment
Services: Managed Services & Support / Consultancy

  • A luxury hotel gift voucher solution provider that was established in 2003
  • Has over 300 of the UK’s most luxurious hotels as clients
  • Provides a platform to manage the sale, transaction, promotion, and delivery of the vouchers

Continue reading for the full case study...

The challenge

  • Flexible infrastructure for seasonal fluctuations in demand to reduce costs
  • A virtualised method of scaling servers without downtime
  • Reliable disaster recovery to prevent losses

The solution

  • Network optimisation – from on-premise to the cloud
  • Cloud solution delivered by Amazon Web Services (AWS) infrastructure and Microsoft SQL databases
  • Two-tier architecture design with Microsoft SQL databases securely placed behind a web tier in a private setup
  • Ring-fenced the solution from the rest of the internet for extra security
  • Fully outsourced managed service to Perfect Image

The benefits

  • Infrastructure that is dynamic and responsive instead of fixed and expensive
  • To scale to meet anticipated demand during peak holiday periods, and remain efficient during less busy periods, servers are easily and individually rebooted by selecting a new instance type – whether an upgrade or downgrade – and for an updated hourly rate for the new server
  • Saving a huge £16,000 per year in infrastructure costs
  • Resilient, secure AWS cloud environment
  • Simplified Microsoft SQL License management and compliance now simplified and wrapped into the AWS bill
  • High levels of access control with security groups acting as firewalls to permit varying degrees of secure access to servers within public or private subnets
  • Outsourcing maintenance and management to reduce support expenses
  • Single Availability Zone design to keep costs low, but with resilience supported with secure backup to Amazon S3
  • Keeping customers happy with better availability
  • Proactively monitoring their network for additional protection against downtime

Continue reading for the full case study…

 

Cloud Offers Seasonal Scalability to Save £16k a Year for Luxury Hotel Gift Voucher Solution Provider

About SK Chase

SK Chase is a luxury hotel gift voucher solution provider that was established in 2003 and has over 300 of the UK’s most luxurious hotels as clients. The company provides a solution that allows hotels to create and manage gift vouchers that they can sell for afternoon tea, spa days, champagne receptions, etc. SK Chase provides a platform to manage the sale, transaction, promotion, and delivery of the vouchers.

Needs:
An Infrastructure to Handle Seasonal Fluctuations in Demand

As a retail company, events during the year such as Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Black Friday, etc. increase levels in demand exponentially. SK Chase was using on premise servers and datacentres that were costly and inflexible – their costs during quieter summer periods were the same as at Christmas time.

The company needed a change, and a solution that could offer the following:

Flexible infrastructure for seasonal fluctuations in demand to reduce costs

Whether SK Chase required it or not, their servers were running at a high specification all year round, which was particularly expensive. Their needs were flexible, but in terms of their software and hardware, their infrastructure was not. It was costing the company far more than it should to run physical infrastructure at a rate that could handle the slower times, but also the peak times of business.

A virtualised method of scaling servers without downtime

To increase or decrease computing power would require physically going to the server, and putting in a new hard drive or a new stick of RAM for better network performance. There would also be downtime as they would need to turn the server on and off, causing losses in productivity and money, and this wasn’t feasible.

Reliable disaster recovery to prevent losses

Previously if their on-site server failed, for example, if a power pack for a PC breaks, then having a new part delivered and fitted would equate to a day or two of downtime. If that happened on a wide scale that would have meant huge losses.

Solution:
Network Optimisation – From On-Premise to the Cloud

After careful consideration of the on-premise and cloud solutions available it was decided that for SK Chase, the best solution for them would be a cloud infrastructure delivered by Amazon Web Services (AWS). This was because it could provide a Platform as a Service (PaaS) offering that would provide them with the cloud services and applications they needed but as part of a time saving, cost efficient managed service. Even better, whatever isn’t part of Amazon’s service, Perfect Image will handle.

Support, guidance and consultation

Perfect Image’s work with SK Chase implementing the solution included:

  • Recommended AWS as a perfect fit for the reliability, scalability and cost effective solution it would offer.
  • Ring fenced the solution from the rest of the internet for extra security, that follows best practices from an implementation point of view. For example, their web server 1 and 2 are web visible, but their database server isn’t.
  • Designed and implemented the whole architecture, service specifications, scalability, etc.
  • Training wasn’t required as they fully outsource the solution to Perfect Image.
  • We undertake the scaling of their servers up and down based on when we know to be busy periods for the company or seasonal demand.

Benefits:
Saving £16,000 per Year with Infrastructure that is Dynamic and Responsive Instead of Fixed and Expensive

Flexible, responsive scalability for on and off-peak periods

With AWS, the company’s cloud servers can now be run on a much lower spec during off-peak times, which keeps costs down. They only pay for the heavy-duty servers when their business really needs them, rather than all year round. Even overnight, a low power state can be set to save resources. The infrastructure flexibly scales to the demands of the business and is dynamic and responsive, instead of fixed and expensive.

A Perfect Image infrastructure consultant who was part of the work says, “They’ve continued to grow and their infrastructure is infinitely more scalable than it was. It’s outsourced so they don’t have to worry about it, it’s been a pretty successful project, and lead to a cost saving.”

Saving a huge £16k per year in infrastructure cost

Migrating to the cloud has also proved to be a worthwhile investment as previously they were paying around £36,000 a year to run their on-site servers and with the cloud that is now down to £20,000, broken up into manageable monthly payments. Saving £16,000 a year for a small company means huge benefits and being able to invest the money elsewhere or back into the company.

Outsourcing maintenance and management to reduce support expenses

SK Chase now benefit from a reduced administrative overhead. Outsourcing the management and maintenance of the solution to Perfect Image means they didn’t have to worry about having the internal resources, and it took a burden off their technical teams.

One of Perfect Image’s consultants who worked on the project says, “I always believe the client should focus on what they’re best at doing, and we can focus on the technology side.”

Resilient, secure cloud environment

Now, the company has resilience far beyond their previous infrastructure. With the way we have set up their cloud environment, if one server goes down, it will automatically switch the workload to another server because it is virtualised. If servers ever went down (which is unlikely because of the high resilience of the cloud) they will only have a maximum of around 20-30 minutes of downtime, instead of a few days as they would have experienced previously.

Keeping customers happy with better availability

From a sales perspective, hosting SK Chase’s servers on the cloud provides the company with better credibility, to be able to promote that their clients’ service will be available 99.9999 times out of a hundred. Customers get reassurance from the fact that the cloud is reliable, available, and secure. This enhances the service clients receive, and increases customer satisfaction.

Proactively monitoring their network for additional protection against downtime

SK Chase also receive proactive maintenance services from Perfect Image, which monitors the following:

  • Servers with a comprehensive IT monitoring platform
  • Websites are available and running
  • Disc space and memory allocation
  • Resource utilisation
  • Web traffic at peak times

This service allows us to find and fix issues before the company are aware there is a problem, so the stress is taken away from SK Chase of monitoring and fixing their own servers.