ICU IT Services aims to create the next generation of enterprise IT by developing innovative solutions and services that break new ground and provide game-changing benefits to clients.
ICU IT Services uses its own IBM LinuxONE Rockhopper to help clients explore how IBM enterprise servers running the Linux operating system can help them to reduce costs and transform their businesses.
Helpsclients harness the power of new technologies to develop innovative products and services
50%reduction in Oracle licensing fees achieved by a government organization working with ICU IT
10%revenue growth achieved by Visma Connect (formerly EBPI) thanks to the scalability of IBM LinuxONE Rockhopper
Business challenge story
Identifying an opportunity
Built on entrepreneurial spirit, ICU IT Services knows the benefits and risks of innovation better than most. In the competitive managed services industry, however, having the courage to lead the way can be a lucrative strategy.
Ron Eland, Managing Partner and CEO at ICU IT Services, says: “Our company has long specialized in delivering customized solutions and services around IBM’s largest infrastructure systems. IBM enterprise platforms have many advantages: they are an effective solution to server sprawl, and can deliver unparalleled security, availability and reliability. And yet, for many companies, these platforms are not even on their radar or they simply lack the technical expertise and resources to be able to adopt them. We always want to provide the best possible service for our customers, so we decided to figure out how we could bring the benefits of IBM enterprise platforms to a wider audience.”
To do so, ICU IT Services needed to offer a new entry-point to enterprise servers that clients would not be able to resist. Recognizing the growing popularity of open-source technology, the company saw an opportunity to tap into a new part of the marketplace.
Johan Schelling, Infrastructure Solution Architect at ICU IT, adds: “Effective use of data is vital for good decision-making: improving data use will boost performance in any company. And with new solutions such as blockchain technology that are expected to transform the way businesses view and use data across sectors, it is more important than ever that we stay ahead of the latest technological trends and provide our clients with the tools they need to develop next-generation products and services.
“For many, Linux is a byword for innovation, which is why we wanted to introduce Linux-based solutions alongside our existing offerings. We knew that by showcasing the potential of our own Linux-based systems, we could appeal to companies that wanted both flexibility and the confidence that their data was in the best possible hands. Critically, for the offering to be a viable proposition for us, it needed to be highly cost-efficient.”
Breaking new ground
ICU IT Services seized the opportunity to become the first company in the BeNeLux region to deploy an IBM LinuxONE Rockhopper system. Combining the best of enterprise Linux and open-source technologies, the solution offers an ideal foundation for the company to broaden its service portfolio.
“We were an early adopter of Linux in the enterprise world ten years ago when we started using Enterprise Linux as a basis for our solutions. We had already made our move into the Linux world when IBM approached us, so when they suggested the LinuxONE Rockhopper, we immediately saw the potential,” says Ron Eland. “The LinuxONE Rockhopper represents the next generation in enterprise IT design, aligning perfectly with our strategy for the future. Offering a host of capabilities within a single, scalable, secure and ultra-reliable platform, LinuxONE gives us everything we require to develop solutions that match up with specific client needs. Having used the platform for some time, we’re convinced that LinuxONE is a wonderful piece of technical engineering and a solid investment for large enterprises.”
ICU IT Services worked closely with IBM to prepare the installation. ICU IT Services now runs both SUSE Linux Enterprise and Red Hat Enterprise Linux distributions on the LinuxONE platform, with virtualization capabilities delivered by KVM and IBM z/VM® hypervisors.
Ron Eland recalls: “We participated in a proof-of-concept exercise at the IBM Client Center in Montpellier, which showed us how to get the best out of the solution. Then the IBM team helped us get our data center ready to house our first enterprise-class server. We were also part of IBM’s Beta Testing program for KVM, the open-source hypervisor, giving us early knowledge of KVM on the LinuxONE platform.”
ICU IT Services began using the solution to support training and development environments, and showcasing the environment to new clients and prospects. By using the solution as the basis for an exclusive laboratory set-up, the company’s team can rapidly expand its knowledge and expertise. These experiences help the team to create and implement innovative solutions, providing high-end services for clients.
As an example of the innovation enabled by the IBM solution, ICU IT has created its own multi-architecture cloud environment using OpenStack solutions and IBM Cloud™ Private. This sophisticated cloud infrastructure incorporates both Intel and LinuxONE nodes and is integrated with the IBM z/OS environment. Looking ahead, ICU IT plans to develop this cloud infrastructure further by integrating its on-premises data warehouse, currently managed with IBM Db2® Warehouse, to create a database-as-a-service (DBaaS) offering.
In addition to using its LinuxONE Rockhopper to test new system architectures for prospective clients, ICU IT is also exploring the possibility of offering managed Linux environments on a cloud platform hosted on an IBM LinuxONE Rockhopper server. This way, ICU IT can bring the benefits of enterprise servers to small and medium-sized businesses that may lack the budget and technical expertise to establish their own enterprise grade systems.
Delivering huge savings
ICU IT Services is able to host hundreds of virtual Linux servers on the LinuxONE Rockhopper, offering the company savings on management time and effort, complexity and licensing costs. By passing these efficiencies onto clients, the company can deliver dramatic cost reductions to them.
Johan Schelling comments: “IBM LinuxONE Rockhopper will be a huge differentiator for ICU IT Services—working with the solution, we are able to deliver IT environments that are tailored specifically to our customers’ needs. IBM LinuxONE Rockhopper affords us the freedom to experiment and develop new ways of working, helping us to provide more effective services for our clients without compromising on security.”
In one notable case, ICU IT helped a government organization reduce the cost of its IT infrastructure by migrating mission-critical systems to the IBM LinuxONE Rockhopper server.
Johan Schelling explains: “Recently, we demonstrated to one of our clients that they could cut their Oracle database licensing costs by 50 percent with the IBM LinuxONE Rockhopper server. Simply migrating its 300 Oracle databases, running on 50 appliance servers with 200 cores, to two LinuxONE Rockhopper servers with ten Integrated Facilities for Linux (IFLs) would enable them to make this huge saving. No other technology vendor or service provider could offer the same level of cost efficiency as we could with IBM LinuxONE, which goes to show that the platform truly can deliver unparalleled savings and eliminate barriers to growth.”
The new offering is also helping ICU IT Services reach new types of clients, growing the company’s market share and revenues. Recently, ICU IT helped Visma Connect, formerly the European Business Process Institute (EBPI), to launch a new SWIFT Payment Bureau service powered by IBM Financial Transaction Manager on an IBM LinuxONE Rockhopper server.
Johan Schelling comments: “Visma Connect were attracted to the LinuxONE platform because it offered the scalability, flexibility, security and resiliency required to support an industry-compliant payment service. Since building this service on an IBM LinuxONE Rockhopper server, Visma Connect has seen a 10 percent growth in revenue and can easily expand its operations to handle over eight million transactions per month.”
Visma Connect isn’t stopping there; the company is currently experimenting with ways that it can incorporate disruptive technologies such as blockchain into its services—enabling the company to stay ahead of current and future trends in technology and finance.
Not content to rest on its laurels, ICU IT Services is planning a range of further developments in the years ahead. These include integrating its mainframe systems with cloud-based applications, as well as exploring the possibility of offering containerization and microservices technologies. ICU IT Services even plans to investigate the possible applications and benefits of quantum computing for its clients. Whatever the future holds, the company plans to use IBM LinuxONE Rockhopper to deliver the scalability, security and reliability required to support innovation.
Ron Eland concludes: “By becoming the first in BeNeLux to deploy the IBM LinuxONE Rockhopper, we have seized priceless first-mover advantage over our competitors. IBM is reinventing the enterprise server for the current generation, retaining the performance and scalability that make it hard to beat, but combining it with the flexibility of open-source technologies. As result, we can appeal to new corners of the market with an offering that is hard to turn down. With the LinuxONE Rockhopper, we feel that the possibilities are endless.”
About ICU IT Services
ICU IT Services is a Dutch IT infrastructure specialist that wants to create the next generation of Enterprise IT. Specialized in designing and implementing large and complex Enterprise IT infrastructures, ICU helps businesses to construct more efficient and secure IT environments. With its team of 40 highly skilled professionals, the company focuses on the interaction between platforms and applications; in particular availability, scalability, security, management and reliability of the z/OS and Linux platforms.