Ricoh needed to ensure reliable service quality and low latency as it expanded its video and web conferencing services, as well as avoiding system outages caused by hardware failure.
Ricoh chose to migrate to IBM Cloud bare metal servers in five IBM Cloud global data centers to ensure reliable service, and created a mechanism to leverage redundant capacity to eliminate outages.
Migratedvideo delivery operations to the cloud without configuration changes
Ensuredlow latency, high-quality service with IBM Cloud bare metal servers
Halvedoperational costs in the three years since moving to IBM Cloud
Business challenge story
Maintaining quality service
Ricoh first offered its video and web conferencing business suite, Unified Communication System (UCS), in August 2011, enabling users to start a conference by simply powering on and pressing a button. To Ricoh’s delight, the following years saw a rapid increase in the number of business users, and workload soared.
“UCS is very much a delay-sensitive service,” says Naoki Umehara in Ricoh’s Cloud Platform Department. “The closer our data center locations are to our users, the higher the video and audio quality we can provide. We had only two data centers, in the United States and Japan, and it became challenging to provide stable services as the number of UCS users was increasing worldwide."
Ricoh’s infrastructure consisted of virtual machines on VMware vSphere in a private cloud hosted at the two data centers and managed using VMware vCenter Server. As service demand increased, the company began to experience problems with outages caused by hardware failures.
“Our foremost priority is to provide a super-stable, high-quality service that is available 24/7. UCS is used for global business video and web conferences, and ensuring always-on service delivery is essential,” says Naoki Umehara.
To build resilience and maintain quality, Ricoh planned to add a further data center, in Australia. However, there were concerns about latency, given the distance to the US and Japan, and about the cost of operating data centers in multiple locations.
A global solution
Ricoh reviewed its strategy and chose to switch from its own data centers to trialing commercial cloud providers. The company decided that its new Australian operation would be the ideal first step, and looked at ways to enable the new UCS services with as little change as possible. Ricoh investigated the IBM Cloud bare metal servers offering, and selected the IBM Cloud Melbourne data center to expand its UCS footprint, replicating the same stack of VMware vSphere and vCenter so that its applications would continue to run as before.
Hiroyuki Kanda in Ricoh’s Cloud Platform Department takes up the story: “We saw that there were no problems with packet loss and latency, which had been among our main concerns. After testing the connection between the Melbourne data center and Ricoh's on-premises data centers, and comparing the underlying workload and the video delivery servers, we saw that the IBM Cloud bare metal servers support higher loads and are more flexible to manage.”
After a successful Melbourne deployment, Ricoh followed with additional server rollouts in Amsterdam, Washington DC, and Seoul (see diagram). For the Japanese domestic workload, where a large portion of Ricoh’s users are based, the existing private cloud and IBM Cloud operated in parallel until the migration to the IBM Cloud Tokyo data center was complete, ensuring a continuous service as Ricoh made the transition.
“We were able to achieve a smooth transition from on-premises virtual machines to IBM Cloud bare metal servers,” says Hiroyuki Kanda. “Since there were no application configuration changes needed, it was simply a matter of capturing the images, moving the virtual machines to the IBM Cloud, and changing the IP addresses.”
With UCS now running in the IBM Cloud, Ricoh has seen its operational costs halve in the last three years. Where the company had previously dealt with long planning cycles and assessing capacity, Ricoh is now able to deploy additional physical server resources on an on-demand basis whenever required.
“Since adopting IBM Cloud, we have adopted an Immutable Infrastructure approach in which infrastructure is automatically rebuilt whenever the system changes, to help ensure greater stability, efficiency and reliability,” says Hiroyuki Kanda. “We have also introduced automation through the wealth of APIs offered by IBM Cloud. For example, we created a mechanism to deploy extra development environments automatically at 8:00AM on weekdays, and then scale back at 8:00PM. This offers us capacity when we need it, avoids over-investment, and helps us cut costs.”
In addition, by switching to IBM Cloud, Ricoh has enhanced system stability and improved availability. As demand rises, Ricoh can add further servers and deploy virtual machines to ensure that it has sufficient capacity. Rather than commit investment capital to just a few large, geographically distant, data centers, the IBM Cloud enables Ricoh to increase capacity on demand, as and when required, and select delivery locations that will maximize service quality.
Building on the success of adopting IBM Cloud, Ricoh is taking advantage of the new capabilities. The company plans to create an automated disaster recovery mechanism, transitioning workload between data centers without service interruption. “IBM Cloud has opened a lot of doors for us,” says Hiroyuki Kanda. “We are confident that IBM Cloud will deliver stable, reliable, high-capacity video and web conferencing, and help us develop exciting new services in the future.”
Headquartered in Tokyo, Ricoh operates in approximately 200 countries, empowering digital workplaces using innovative technologies and services, enabling individuals to work smarter. Ricoh has been driving innovation for more than 80 years, and is now a leading provider of video and web conferencing, document management solutions, IT services, and industrial systems.