SaaSplaza is an open platform that brings together software suppliers and implementation partners for the transparent supply of cloud-based solutions. The SaaSplaza offering is designed to give customers scalable, cost-effective access to Microsoft
technologies with enhanced options for managing their own IT environments. When its Citrix solutions based on VMware virtualization technology began to lack flexibility, SaaSplaza migrated to the Windows Server 2008 R2 operating system with Hyper-V virtualization
technology and the Microsoft System Center suite of management products. With Hyper-V supporting its cloud-based offering, SaaSplaza gives customers greater insight into their systems, sustainable operational efficiency, and more freedom to focus on their
Founded in the Netherlands in 2008, SaaSplaza offers a cloud platform that helps software suppliers and implementation partners deliver enterprise resource planning and customer relationship management solutions to its customers. These cloud-based solutions
take advantage of virtualization technology, bringing Microsoft systems to businesses worldwide in a way that’s cost effective, highly scalable, and easier to manage.
After more than seven years working with this technology, Herb Prooy, Chief Executive Officer at SaaSplaza, understands that the management needs of organizations using the cloud are varied. He says: “It’s a common misconception that cloud computing removes
all control from the enterprise. It’s possible to leave the running of the IT infrastructure in the hands of a partner, but most customers prefer to understand their IT environment. They want to know how well systems are working, how intensively they are used,
and the status of their backups. After all, their livelihood depends on it.”
Prooy says that customers want the best of both worlds—less day-to-day monitoring, but greater control over users and applications. “Customers need to be able to focus on their business without the distraction of IT management, but also know that their computer
systems can quickly scale to meet the demand of new projects or staff increases,” he says.
With this in mind, SaaSplaza created a service model that offers optimum flexibility. Software suppliers and partners use it to deliver Microsoft collaboration technologies—such as Microsoft Dynamics, Microsoft Exchange Server, Microsoft Office applications,
and Microsoft SharePoint collaboration software—as a shared pool of configurable resources. This way, customers benefit from on-demand access to a range of highly scalable systems without the need for large infrastructure implementations.
But in 2010 SaaSplaza started to encounter scalability and system issues of its own. When the business began, there were few virtualization solutions available, so SaaSplaza was built on VMware virtualization technology integrated with Citrix software. But
elements of the technology soon became a challenge. Prooy says: “As management requirements became more demanding, it was almost impossible for us to use Citrix XenServer technology on VMware. It could no longer meet availability needs and the deployment of
new servers and software required increasing amounts of effort.”
SaaSplaza began to examine alternative products. “Our specifications for a new infrastructure were straightforward,” says Prooy. “We wanted a platform with high availability, which would support the rollout of servers and software quickly and smoothly using
an automated process.”
||We had expensive operating licenses for our Citrix terminal services solution. But with Windows Server 2008 R2, Remote Desktop Services comes as part of the operating system, providing us with a more cost-effective and flexible licensing
Chief Executive Officer
SaaSplaza is a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner, but the organization’s choice of Windows Server 2008 R2 operating system with Hyper-V technology was still carefully considered. Prooy says: “The decision was based on two factors. First, the cost of implementation
was critical. VMware is more expensive than Hyper-V, yet it doesn’t offer any additional functionality. We had expensive operating licenses for our Citrix terminal services solution. But with Windows Server 2008 R2, Remote Desktop Services comes as part of
the operating system, providing us with a more cost-effective and flexible licensing model.”
Remote Desktop Services removes data and applications from the desktop so that any supported computer can run any of an organization’s Windows applications or operating systems. “Second, the solution had to integrate seamlessly with our existing systems—most
importantly, the Microsoft System Center 2012 suite of management products. The tools provide a total management solution for our ever-expanding server and application environment,” says Prooy.
Microsoft System Center, which offers a common toolset for both cloud and data center management, also captures and consolidates information about customers’ systems, helping to meet their increasing demand for greater insight and control.
SaaSplaza phased out Citrix solutions and VMware, and standardized its entire hosting environment on Microsoft software. Prooy says: “With Hyper-V and Microsoft System Center supporting our cloud-based offering, management and monitoring are far stronger
than before. We can now deploy a new server or application in just a few clicks.”
In a market that has an increasing number of virtualization solutions, customers are looking for more flexible control over their systems. With the SaaSplaza platform, partners can activate specific functions according to their needs, whether it’s incorporating
a server or a rollout of new software. Prooy says: “Customers no longer depend on partners to intervene in deployments. SaaSplaza offers them a level of flexibility that has become far easier, mostly due to our change to a Microsoft infrastructure.”
Virtualization Solution Better Supports Cloud Technologies
SaaSplaza is now in a position to put integrated Microsoft software as services on the cloud, supported by Microsoft virtualization technology and management software. Customers can achieve the best from their IT infrastructures and benefit from the reduced
costs of a single licensing and support vendor.
When supported by Hyper-V, Microsoft SharePoint Server applications, for example, can scale to hundreds of thousands of users across a reduced number of physical machines. This can significantly reduce management, hardware, and energy costs for customers.
Service Scalability Cuts Physical Hardware and Energy Use
With Hyper-V, SaaSplaza has dramatically increased its potential for scalable offerings. Prooy explains: “In Amsterdam and the United States, we have around 1,500 physical servers. Each has a virtualization level of 15 to 20 servers and the number is growing,
meaning we can reduce carbon emissions and subsequently our environmental footprint.”
Hyper-V also enhances performance through memory sharing across virtual machines, making the technology more efficient than its competitors’ offerings. Using its Dynamic Memory feature, Hyper-V treats memory as a shared resource that can be automatically
redistributed among other virtual machines. Prooy says: “One of the virtual servers can temporarily make use of the memory that other virtual servers on the same physical machine are not using.”
Tools within Microsoft technologies help SaaSplaza to expand its offering with minimum development. Microsoft System Center in particular offers features that provide customers with the control they need. Prooy says: “We had to develop many tools in-house
with the Citrix solution, whereas Microsoft provides these tools as standard. They include monitoring tools, such as an online dashboard, which give the customer complete insight into the infrastructure. They use these to create reports and generate graphical
presentations.” Meanwhile, self-service features give customers and partners the freedom to decide how their cloud services are delivered.
Licensing Model Cuts Costs
SaaSplaza uses the Microsoft Services Provider License Agreement (SPLA) designed for organizations that offer hosted software and services to customers. Within this agreement, partners benefit from a flexible cost structure, with no startup costs, monthly
sales minimums, or required term of commitment. Prooy says: “It’s vital in our industry that we are not faced with one enormous bill each year, but instead can manage our finances more easily with monthly fixed costs. In addition, the discounts that apply
to large implementations make Microsoft an attractive option for this industry.”
Business Growth Supported Long Term
SaaSplaza continues to develop a range of services internationally using Microsoft products and partners. It attributes—in part—its increasing visibility in the market to its choice of technologies. Prooy says: “Our partnership with Microsoft has helped
us grow significantly. Microsoft has a strong focus on the cloud and supports its partners in the transition of their customers to this model. In the United States alone, we are a leader in cloud deployments, with up to three a week. We expect this figure
to rise to one a day in 2013.”
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||Customers no longer depend on partners to intervene in deployments. SaaSplaza offers them a level of flexibility that has become far easier, mostly due to our change to a Microsoft infrastructure.
Chief Executive Officer
Built-in Features Minimize Development