For more time to focus on delivering relevant content to the right audience, online video marketing specialist Vuble sought to simplify and accelerate its IT infrastructure.
Vuble broke its costly physical server growth cycle by working with IBM and IBM Gold Business Partner D.FI. to replace 15 commodity x86 servers with just three IBM Power Systems S812L servers.
5Xserver consolidation simplifies infrastructure and cuts costs
15%reduction in response times directly drives higher revenues
94%reduction in server administration frees up experts for value-add services
Business challenge story
Online video marketing is booming, with many believing that it is the future for both advertising and content marketing—if that future is not here already. Vuble is taking advantage of the unstoppable rise of video to raise its own fortunes, successfully expanding its operations from headquarters in Paris to open offices in New York.
Since then, Vuble has continued to expand, and its corporate strategy is to accelerate this growth. With data volumes and transaction numbers set to rise exponentially in the coming years, a major challenge for the business is to manage these increased demands in a cost-effective and sustainable manner.
Pierre Claudon, CTO of Vuble, comments: “From the technical perspective, our goal is always to process all of the data in the most efficient and rapid way possible. The better we can do this, the better we can serve our clients and the more revenue we can generate. And, of course, efficiency implies lower costs and therefore improves profitability.”
Vuble uses a suite of applications developed in-house on the LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP) stack, which it was running on Debian Linux across 15 dedicated x86 servers. These servers were hosted in a third-party data center, but Vuble had already decided to bring them into its own data center.
Vivien Prodhomme, DevOps Lead for Vuble, says: “Bringing the servers in-house was an opportunity to look again at the architecture. We were adding a new physical server approximately every three months, and this was clearly not sustainable. And as the number of machines grew, we had reached the point where we were spending more time managing the servers than pushing the applications forward.”
“We could do everything we needed on the existing servers, but the growth of that environment meant that we would soon need an army of administrators,” adds Pierre Claudon. “We set out to find a more compact, scalable and easy-to-manage infrastructure for our most critical line-of-business applications. In particular, we aimed to choose a solution that would serve our needs without upgrades or expansion for at least the following three years, because we did not want to commit more time to developing the infrastructure.”
Shrink to fit
Vuble approached several vendors for solutions, and worked down to a shortlist of two: IBM and a major global x86 vendor. “We had no previous experience with the IBM Power Architecture®, but IBM provided us with great information and the ability to try out a test landscape with our existing hosting partner,” recalls Pierre Claudon.
Working through IBM Gold Business Partner D.FI., Vuble purchased and deployed three single-socket IBM Power® S812L servers, each with a 10-core, 3.42 GHz IBM POWER8® processor and 128 GB of memory. The company continues to run its mission-critical business applications on Ubuntu Linux, as virtual servers on the IBM PowerKVM hypervisor.
“The migration ran very smoothly, and we were able to move our Ubuntu landscapes over to Power with no modifications,” says Vivien Prodhomme. “All that really changed is that we went from 15 physical servers down to just three, running a total of ten virtual servers.”
Two of the Power S812L servers handle the live traffic for the business; Vuble ensures high availability at the application level by automatically moving workload from one machine to the other in the unlikely event of a problem, or if the company needs to shut down a server for maintenance. The third Power S812L runs less critical back-office and administrative systems.
“The IBM Power Systems servers have enabled us to shrink our physical landscape from 15 servers to just three,” says Pierre Claudon. “At the same time, they offer much higher performance and give us plenty of room for growth. Indeed, we estimate that our landscape would already have grown to 22 physical machines if we had stayed on the x86 architecture rather than moving to IBM Power.
“Although the IBM Power architecture brings all the benefits of decades of investment in enterprise-class computing, it is just as accessible as the commodity x86 architecture,” continues Pierre Claudon. “Not only were we able to migrate our Linux servers without making any changes, but we have also set up a hybrid development/production landscape. Developers continue to write their code on the same x86 workstations they have always used, then deploy it directly into production on the Power Systems servers.”
Fast, open, resilient
The migration from x86 servers to the new IBM Power S812L delivered an immediate improvement in performance, with response times improving by 10 to 15 percent on average.
“Performance wasn’t really an issue in the past, so the improvements are not necessarily visible for individual users,” says Pierre Claudon. “After all, people are not likely to notice the difference between 300ms and 250ms! But from our perspective, looking at the whole system, this performance boost is a huge benefit.”
He adds: “The rate at which we can serve videos has significantly increased, and that translates directly into more revenue for Vuble. Videos start playing faster, which drives higher conversion rates, and the end-users are happier because their pages load faster. The publishers are happier because they can sell more inventory to advertisers. And the advertisers are happier because they reach a more receptive audience at higher speed.”
The Power S812L servers also help Vuble to handle peaks in demand better than before. The key challenge with the former x86 infrastructure was in getting data from memory to the CPUs for processing. “In the past, we had memory bottlenecks, so the x86 CPUs were spending a lot of time waiting for fresh data,” says Vivien Prodhomme. “With Power, we can get the data in as fast as we need, so we can take full advantage of our POWER8 processors to absorb peaks in demand.”
The Vuble business has continued to grow since the migration to Power, and yet the company has not needed to add physical servers or IT staff. In fact, the workload has even decreased: where the team was previously spending one hour a day on server management, it now spends just 10 minutes every three days—a 94 percent reduction.
“The stability and availability of the Power Systems servers helps us to minimize server administration,” says Pierre Claudon. “That’s not to say that we had availability problems in the past: our software is highly resilient, so although we would typically see a complete machine failure every three weeks in the old x86 landscape, there was no impact on our services. But, of course, there was a significant impact in terms of our internal workload.”
With less administration to do, the team at Vuble is free to spend more time helping the business to develop and grow. The programmatic advertising industry in which the company operates is highly innovative, technology-driven and fast moving, so the ability to improve the technical focus on the core business is a significant advantage.
Summing up the value of the IBM solution to Vuble, Pierre Claudon concludes: “The Power architecture has a number of strengths that make it ideal for hosting web services: ultra-high reliability and performance, and the ability to absorb peaks in workload and keep CPUs fed with data. Equally, the ability to host large numbers of virtual machines on each physical server makes it a very cost-effective platform. Finally, we also value the openness of the platform. This is no longer an architecture just for proprietary Unix workloads—it is also ideal for our open source environment.”
As an online video marketplace, Vuble offers publishers and advertisers an advanced advertising platform on a unique CPCV (cost per completed view) basis. The company connects content owners (advertisers) with web publishers programmatically, using sophisticated algorithms to ensure that the right ads are displayed on the right websites. This means that advertisers can maximize the visibility and impact of their messages, and publishers can maximize their ad income. Vuble has offices in Paris and New York, and serves more than 1.5 billion page views per month.
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