Hosting and cloud services specialist PoundHost Internet wanted a new virtualised platform that could offer redundancy, stability, and performance. Working with Microsoft, Silversands, and NetApp, it built a solution using Microsoft System Center
2012 to replace its existing platform. As a result, clients benefit from Windows operating system licences through the public cloud. Both Windows and Linux are available from the same hardware cluster.
PoundHost Internet was founded in the United Kingdom (UK) in 2001 to provide high-quality, cost-effective Internet hosting. It is now a subsidiary of Namesco, part of the Dada Group, an international group specialising in online services. PoundHost started
out by offering web hosting at £1 (US$1.51) per megabyte—hence the name. The company now has more than 6,500 servers and 200 racks. It operates from four data centres across two locations with its own data centre in Reading in the UK serving clients in the
UK, India, Turkey, and across Europe. It offers customers a round-the-clock technical engineer service with priority response times of less than 15 minutes, same day setup on all services, and a 99.9 per cent uptime service-level agreement.
PoundHost needed to upgrade its existing virtual server platform, which was deployed in 2009, to further automate the maintenance of customer virtual machines and the cluster infrastructure. But automation of support systems was not the only requirement.
Chirag Patel, Head of Dedicated Hosting—Europe, PoundHost Internet, says: “Redundancy, stability, and performance were primary considerations. We wanted to offer customers the ability to build their own cloud servers and pay only for the resources they use.
We now offer Linux in addition to Windows cloud servers, and wanted to administer them from the same control panel. Another improvement was to give customers seamless backups and disaster recovery through the new virtual server platform. Our aim was to provide
customers with a complete solution out of the box, without relying on third-party software or code.”
As a result, PoundHost focused on researching and developing a new virtual server platform built on the best hardware and software available. The hosting and cloud services provider worked with Microsoft Gold Management and Virtualisation Partner Silversands
and Microsoft Gold Platform Partner NetApp to develop the solution.
PoundHost tested several platforms—including VMware and OnApp—before it deployed Microsoft System Center 2012 with Hyper-V, Windows Server 2008 R2, Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2, and Windows Server Update Services. The virtual server platform is using several
components of System Center 2012 to enhance customer services, including Data Protection Manager, Orchestrator, Virtual Machine Manager, and Operations Manager. Patel says: “None of the alternative solutions to System Center 2012 with Hyper-V provided us with
a complete turnkey solution. Microsoft offered Windows and Linux virtual machine support.”
PoundHost has praised the role of Silversands in delivering the new product set. Vikki Wildsmith, Project Manager, Silversands, says: “We knew it was going to be a complex task, but with excellent planning and implementation, we delivered on time and within
PoundHost plans to integrate the components of System Center into its web control panel, offering a comprehensive solution to customers without reliance on third-party software or code.
Patel says: “The latest version of System Center offers a multitude of features that are ideal for hosting and public cloud services providers like us. For example, Orchestrator provides a central place to manage all our automated tasks such as deploying
cloud servers. We’re working closely with Microsoft to develop a range of web tools that interface directly with Orchestrator. Data Protection Manager gives us the ability to offer backups of cloud servers to customers.”
PoundHost has boosted the stability, redundancy, and performance of its cloud server platform with System Center 2012. Customers access the service on a pay-as-you-go basis without contracts or annual tie-ins, and benefit from Windows operating system licences
through the public cloud. Both Windows and Linux are available from the same hardware cluster.
Automation helps improve customer service. Patel says: “Orchestrator allows us to streamline many processes as well as give us complete control and visibility of all our automation scripts. This automation is where we see a major benefit
to our business.”
Pay-as-you-go solution offers clients value for money. PoundHost has low barriers to entry—the minimum commitment is £23 (US$36) a month and no contracts or annual subscriptions are required. Patel adds: “Round-the-clock UK-based support
is perfect for customers in any part of the world and we can offer Windows or Linux from the same hardware cluster.”
Customer satisfaction is enhanced with new virtual platform. Patel says: “Some customers have now migrated from the former virtualisation platform to our new cloud server environment. At the same time, a large number of other cloud server
clients have upgraded to an improved specification.”
PoundHost can provision unlimited Windows Server virtual machines. Patel says: “We can provision unlimited virtual machines with Windows Server without paying any more in licensing costs. We pass this saving on to the customer, giving us
the ability to offer Windows licences on our cloud servers.”
Entire environment is housed in
a secure data centre with round-the-clock support. PoundHost is using an enterprise-class NetApp device that offers redundant storage with scope for upgrade should the cloud services provider need it. Patel says: “The entire
platform is housed in our own data centre in Reading with our technical staff onsite 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”
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