To improve customer service, c.a.r.u.s. planned to introduce a solution to help its clients boost performance of critical systems. To support the venture, it needed an efficient technology platform.
c.a.r.u.s. launched a new storage monitoring application tailored for mid-sized companies, building the solution on the latest IBM Power Systems servers and the open-source MariaDB database.
130% higherperformance from Power compared to competing platforms
40% fasterperformance at lower cost from running MariaDB on Power and Linux
Drivestruly outstanding customer service, boosting satisfaction and loyalty
Business challenge story
Pinpointing a gap in the market
In Germany’s crowded IT services market, providers that fail to stand out from the crowd risk getting left behind. When c.a.r.u.s. spotted an innovative way to provide even better IT services to clients, it didn’t hesitate to act. Andreas Lieser, Senior Consultant at c.a.r.u.s., takes up the story: “More and more companies are taking advantage of virtualization, which enables them to save money by operating one central storage solution to support all business systems. If all mission-critical applications rely on the same storage, keeping it up and running smoothly is vital to avoid disruption to commercial operations. But unless you can pinpoint the root cause of any problems that arise, trying to fix them is a game of trial and error.
“To help companies identify the cause of sluggish storage, several IT vendors have launched storage monitoring solutions. But when mid-sized clients asked us to recommend one, we couldn’t find anything suitable. Existing solutions were either very sophisticated and came with high licensing costs—putting them beyond the reach of smaller organizations—or very rudimentary, lacking the functionality demanded by mid-sized businesses. “To provide even better customer service and to distinguish ourselves from competitors, we set out to launch our own solution tailored to suit mid-sized companies.”
Launching an innovative offeringc.a.r.u.s. developed a new storage monitoring application called c.a.r.u.s. Storage Analytics cSA, which measures the performance of IBM Storwize® family and IBM FlashSystem® storage devices as well as IBM Spectrum Virtualize™ clusters.Performance data is continuously measured, compiled and aggregated using the open-source MariaDB database. Users can view this data in eye-catching charts and graphs, making it quick and easy to pinpoint the root cause of any problems in real time.Initially, c.a.r.u.s. supported the cSA solution with a different database running on Linux on Power Systems servers. By switching to the powerful combination of MariaDB running on Linux on Power, c.a.r.u.s. achieved performance gains of around 40 percent. Having such high performance enables the company to monitor even very large storage environments in real time.“A database provided a simple, effective way of storing and managing the performance data we captured,” explains Andreas Lieser. “We selected MariaDB because it offers a streamlined database with excellent performance and high availability. And choosing an open-source solution keeps operating costs down, and meant that we could include the database in our offering without requiring clients to pay separate licensing fees.“This was our first time working with MariaDB, and we were delighted with the support we received from the team as we designed and launched the cSA offering. If we choose to purchase a MariaDB subscription, the MariaDB team will keep the database running optimally at all times, and respond to any problems within 30 minutes.”To support the new offering, c.a.r.u.s. deployed a state-of-the-art IBM Power® System S822L server.“We chose POWER8® technology because it scales seamlessly to support clients of all sizes,” recalls Andreas Lieser. “What’s more, many of our clients are big fans of the IBM Power architecture because of its proven performance and availability, so building cSA on Power would make the offering more appealing.“MariaDB and Power Systems is the perfect combination. MariaDB is optimized for Power, so we achieve exceptional performance. For example, read operations on the MariaDB database are 130 percent faster on our Power server running Red Hat Enterprise Linux than on a comparable x86 architecture, while combined read-write operations are 115 percent faster.”For clients with sufficient capacity on their existing servers, c.a.r.u.s. sets up a Linux partition to support the cSA solution. If the client lacks the required capacity, c.a.r.u.s. gives them an option of purchasing a Power System S822L server to run the cSA application.So far, c.a.r.u.s. has sold the cSA solution exclusively to clients managing their storage environments on-premise. In future, the company plans to offer the solution on a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) basis so that clients can monitor their storage infrastructure via the cloud.c.a.r.u.s. is also taking advantage of the cSA solution to monitor its own IBM Storwize V7000 storage environment in-house, helping to boost performance and availability. The company performs tests for customers on its own storage environment to see how changes—such as the deployment of new applications—will affect performance.
Providing eye-opening insights and superb customer service
With the cSA solution, c.a.r.u.s. empowers clients with detailed insight into the performance and availability of their storage environments.
“Our clients can see the performance of their entire environment, particular storage volumes or even individual disks—all in real time,” comments Andreas Lieser. “This detailed insight helps our clients identify if, for example, a certain disk needs to be replaced.
“The cSA application collects data around the clock, and our clients can study the data to identify causes of common problems, predict when issues are likely to arise, and take preventative action.”
c.a.r.u.s. has received excellent feedback from several clients about the new offering.
“One of our larger clients recently rolled out an application to 12,000 staff,” adds Andreas Lieser. “When everyone began using the new solution, the company incurred major performance problems across an array of critical systems. Luckily, our cSA solution enabled the IT team to quickly detect the root of the problem. Because we have access to the cSA solution too, we were able to work with the client to resolve the issue fast.
“Another client recently switched to a new data mirroring solution. Using cSA, they could see how the change impacted performance, and decide which technology suits them best.”
Launching the new solution has enabled c.a.r.u.s. to bring customer service to new highs.
“We manage the cSA application, so our clients can boost the performance and availability of their critical systems with no additional work,” states Andreas Lieser.
“The solution also helps us spot opportunities for cross- and upselling. Because we can access the cSA data, we can see whether a client will soon need to expand their storage environment, and even recommend the most appropriate type of storage. That service is useful for customers, and helps us close more deals too.”
Underpinning the cSA solution with MariaDB running on Linux on the latest Power Systems servers ultimately enables c.a.r.u.s. to offer customers better performance at lower cost.
Next, c.a.r.u.s. plans to augment the cSA solution with analytics functionality. This enhancement will enable the solution to recognize patterns in storage performance, and send automatic alerts in case of deviations from the norm, as these could indicate unknown problems.
Andreas Lieser concludes: “With IBM and MariaDB, we have built a solution that delivers great value to customers, boosting their satisfaction and loyalty. What’s more, the new offering helps us differentiate ourselves from rival providers, sharpening our competitive edge.”
One of Germany’s leading IT service providers, c.a.r.u.s. Information Technology GmbH Hannover serves clients across the nation. The company specializes in providing consulting services and IT infrastructures that help clients run their businesses more efficiently.
- IBM Power System S822L
- IBM Spectrum Virtualize Software for V7000
- IBM Spectrum Virtualize for Public Cloud
- Storage: IBM Storwize V7000
Take the next step
The MariaDB Foundation provides one of the world’s leading open-source databases for data-center and cloud environments, with nine million users across more than 45 countries. To find out more about the MariaDB Foundation, please visit: www.mariadb.org To learn more about IBM Power Systems, please contact your IBM representative or IBM Business Partner, or visit the following website: ibm.com/power