Contact centre software provider Aeriandi in the United Kingdom (UK) wanted to meet Payment Card Industry (PCI) compliance standards to offer hosted services to high-street banks and large retailers. Microsoft System Center 2012 SP1 helped to
improve performance, reduce costs, and meet PCI requirements. In addition, time to market with new systems for customers has been cut from two months to just 48 hours, without significantly expanding the IT team.
Aeriandi offers hosted services to leading high-street banks and major retailers in the UK. It provides web services, voice over IP (VoIP), predictive dialling, interactive voice response, and web-based line-of-business applications—serving thousands of
clients simultaneously 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Aeriandi, founded in 2003, was quick to recognise the potential for cloud-based business services. Under Chief Executive Matthew Bryars, the firm is making innovative use of cloud-based technology to help stockbrokers, customers in retail banks, and private
banks reduce costs while maintaining optimal levels of service.
The company has experienced exponential growth in the past two years, with 50 per cent expansion in 2012. Bryars says: “We have an aggressive growth strategy for the next three years, which means we’ll need to expand and scale up our cloud-based infrastructure
to meet demand.”
To underpin its business strategy, Aeriandi needed to design a reliable, scalable, and secure platform that was easy to maintain and PCI accredited. Bryars says: “We needed to have clearance from a compliance perspective to host PCI-sensitive data on behalf
of our customers in financial and retail services, where strict standards of security apply.”
However, given the economic climate, it also needed to improve customer service while keeping operational costs as low as possible. Bryars says: “Our time to market for new systems was running at up to two months. We also wanted to deploy software updates
more quickly. Our system works hard. We serve thousands of simultaneous users processing hundreds of web requests and initiating tens of thousands of phone calls every second.”
Aeriandi implemented Microsoft System Center 2012 SP1, taking advantage of the Operations Manager and Virtual Machine Manager components, as well as Hyper-V virtualisation software. Aeriandi also deployed the Windows Server 2012 operating system. VMware
was initially considered but rejected in favour of System Center 2012 with Hyper-V, which was found to be highly automated, secure, and cost effective.
With System Center 2012 SP1, another advantage for Aeriandi was the ability to pool its data-centre resources into a private cloud while using the IT assets it already owned, including earlier versions of Microsoft software.
Robbie Roberts, IT and Infrastructure Manager, Aeriandi, says: “The new operations platform needed to integrate with the automated deployment of services, both software and hardware, to ensure software updates happen with no downtime to hosted customers.
System Center 2012 SP1 offered us a complete operations management solution and with Hyper-V as part of the package at no extra cost it was a more resilient solution than VMware.”
Aeriandi also valued the combination of System Center 2012 SP1 and Windows Server 2012 to operate the platform and will in future use more of the features built-in to System Center 2012 SP1. Roberts says: “In particular, we wanted to use the Virtual Machine
Manager and Operations Manager components of System Center 2012 SP1, together with Orchestrator and Endpoint Protection. They help us to automatically push out system and software updates with greater consistency and no manual configuration.”
Aeriandi licensed the System Center 2012 SP1 software under a Microsoft Services Provider License Agreement—the premium offering for service providers and independent software vendors that charges a monthly fee.
Aeriandi is using Microsoft System Center 2012 SP1 to work smarter and has expanded the number of its servers while only marginally increasing IT headcount. Time to market for new systems has been cut significantly, from two months to 48 hours. The Operations
Manager feature of System Center 2012 SP1 helped the company gain its valued PCI Data Security Standard (DSS) accreditation, thereby transforming the business.
Customer service boosted as time to market cut from two months to 48 hours. Bryars says: “For example, a hosted telephony system requiring a new network topology was deployed using Microsoft System Center 2012 SP1. We drew the design on
the whiteboard, configured Virtual Machine Manager, and deployed. We’re giving our customers even better service—24 hours a day, seven days a week—and delivering on all our promises.”
System Center 2012 SP1 improves customer service with no extra costs. Roberts says: “Microsoft System Center 2012 SP1 helps us to offer customers much more complex environments over greater distances for data centres and the public and private
cloud, while maintaining full PCI compliance.”
Automation reduces time spent on manual processes. Through automated event logging in System Center 2012 SP1, the Aeriandi IT team now identifies issues before they occur. Roberts says: “It has saved the time previously spent manually checking
disk space in the data centre.”
Servers expand fivefold with only one extra technician required. Aeriandi has integrated its development, servicing, and provisioning using System Center 2012. It has created its own private cloud hosting open source and Windows software.
The IT team has grown from two to just three people, while the number of servers has increased from 30 to 100. Databases are terabytes in size with billions of rows.
PCI DSS accreditation helps to win new customers. Bryars says: “Operations Manager helped us to gain our PCI DSS accreditation. We now expect our growth to accelerate further in 2013—there’s no way we could do that without Hyper-V and System
Center 2012 SP1.”
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