2-page Partner Case Study
Posted: 9/24/2012
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K2 Developer Helps Clients Increase Availability, Automate Recovery, and Improve Control

Software developer K2 wanted to help customers increase system availability, speed disaster recovery, and collect more in-depth business intelligence (BI) without engaging IT personnel. To address these challenges, K2 updated its products to support Microsoft SQL Server 2012. As a result, K2 helps clients boost availability, automate disaster recovery, improve insight and control, and minimize IT complexity and costs.

Business Needs

Microsoft partner K2 provides software and IT solutions that help organizations of various sizes simplify and automate business processes. Many clients require mission-critical availability. To achieve this, in the past, K2 used database clustering, mirroring, and backup and restore capabilities in Microsoft SQL Server software.

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* Maintaining higher levels of availability and achieving an affordable, easy-to-manage, disaster-recovery solution are two of the top benefits of using K2 products with SQL Server 2012.  *

Dave Marcus
Vice President of Global Alliances
K2

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In 2011, K2 wanted to streamline the processes for facilitating high availability. The existing failover and recovery processes were largely manual and time-consuming, especially for enterprise customers that used K2 blackpearl workflow and business-process management software, which included 14 distinct databases. Dave Marcus, Vice President of Global Alliances at K2, elaborates, “Managing backup, restore, and failover processes for installations with 40 mirrored databases in different data centers was a significant challenge, especially when we needed to synchronize data.”

The company also wanted to give customers more control over collecting and analyzing data. Explaining why business intelligence is crucial to its solutions, Marcus says, “It’s not just enough to automate a process. If you don’t have good insight into it, there is no way to measure its effectiveness.”

K2 solutions most often use Microsoft SQL Server Reporting Services to generate static reports about workflows. However, because each solution is unique, IT personnel from K2 had to invest varying amounts of time to create and maintain reports for clients. Marcus explains, “We often ended up having to do a lot of work on behalf of a business to collect analytics that the business should have been able to collect on its own, if it wanted to do so.”

K2 sought tools that it could use to help customers achieve high availability, disaster recovery, and in-depth BI with less effort.

Solution

In August 2011, K2 began testing Microsoft SQL Server 2012. Many customers had already expressed an interest in the new platform, and K2 wanted to be ready to support it. In addition, K2 was especially interested in SQL Server 2012 AlwaysOn. By taking advantage of AlwaysOn, K2 could give its customers the option to automate the processes required for achieving high availability and disaster recovery by using availability groups instead of traditional clusters.

AlwaysOn availability groups can include up to four secondary copies of a primary system at multiple locations. SQL Server 2012 automatically maintains the system copies, using synchronous or asynchronous replication, and it can initiate automatic failover if the primary instance goes offline.

To further simplify availability and recovery processes, K2 decided to restructure its K2 blackpearl application so that it uses only 1 database instead of 14. “Consolidating databases will simplify manageability and give users more control over availability,” says Marcus. “This consolidation is also an important step in increasing simplicity, which will help facilitate future solutions based on Windows Azure.”

As part of this investment, customers also have the ability to use Power View, a new capability in SQL Server 2012 Reporting Services. With Power View, customers can generate detailed, self-service reports. In addition, customers can create custom BI with Microsoft SQL Server 2012 PowerPivot for Excel and SQL Server 2012 PowerPivot for SharePoint.

In June 2012, engineers updated K2 blackpearl, K2 blackpoint, K2 connect, and K2 smartforms to fully support SQL Server 2012. This included consolidating K2 blackpearl databases. To take advantage of SQL Server 2012 internally, IT personnel also began modifying corporate databases to run SQL Server 2012 Enterprise. These databases support 30 applications and the company’s corporate website, partner website, and customer-support portal.

Benefits

By updating its offerings to support SQL Server 2012, K2 helps customers increase availability levels, obtain insight into processes without the help of IT personnel, reduce complexity, and save money.

Boosts Availability and Speeds Disaster Recovery with Automation

With its new solution, K2 can help customers boost availability with less effort. “Maintaining higher levels of availability and achieving an affordable, easy-to-manage, disaster-recovery solution are two of the top benefits of using K2 products with SQL Server 2012,” says Marcus. “And we give our customers more choice about how they want to protect data with SQL Server 2012.”

For example, with SQL Server 2012, organizations can opt for traditional clustering or use AlwaysOn availability groups. If clients use availability groups, they can choose how many system replicas to maintain, where the replicas are located, and whether there is a delay in data synchronization.

In addition, by supporting SQL Server 2012, K2 can automate IT processes. “With AlwaysOn, it takes less effort and time to set up and maintain high availability because we no longer have to rely on manual system failover or restore processes,” says Marcus. “We can also use availability groups to help balance loads using system replicas to spread processing across multiple systems.”

Improves Business Insight and Control

With its updated solutions, K2 can give its customers more control over business processes. “Companies can use Power View to instantly gain in-depth insight into workflows without the help of IT personnel,” says Marcus. “With this new level of self-service, people can better understand data and processes, and they can identify new ways to improve efficiency with business-process automation.”

Reduces Complexity and Costs

By expanding its offerings with built-in tools in the Microsoft platform, K2 helps organizations maintain simplicity and save money. “With Power View, we give customers self-service BI along with an already rich set of Microsoft BI capabilities,” says Marcus. “We also help them achieve mission-critical availability at a much lower cost than they ever could without AlwaysOn. And, really, that is what K2 solutions are all about: helping our customers realize even greater benefits from their core platform investments.”

This case study is for informational purposes only. MICROSOFT MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, IN THIS SUMMARY.
Solution Overview



Organization Size: 300 employees

Partner Profile

  • Founded in 2000, K2 is a privately owned company that provides business-process automation and workflow solutions. More than 2,000 customers use K2 products in more than 50 countries. The company is based in Redmond, Washington.


Software and Services
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2012
  • Microsoft SQL Server PowerPivot for Microsoft Excel
  • Microsoft SQL Server PowerPivot for Microsoft SharePoint
  • Microsoft SQL Server Reporting Services

Vertical Industries
Manufacturing & Resources

Country/Region
United States

Business Need
Business Intelligence and Reporting

IT Issue
High Availability

Languages
English

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