Five nines hybrid success story

Issue 3 2021 Infrastructure

Modernised infrastructure. These two words are weighed with far more than just the idea that legacy technology and systems are replaced by the shiny and the new.

For Principa, modernised infrastructure was the terminology that defined their smart move to a hybrid cloud environment that allowed the company to fully align internal systems with strategic objectives and overcome lingering system performance and infrastructure challenges.

“Principa wanted technology that would allow them to free up capacity and focus outwards, on strategic initiatives, rather than having to focus inwards on addressing operational challenges,” says Johan De Villiers, CEO at First Technology. “They wanted their data and analytics toolkits to be compliant and capable, providing them with the insights they needed to run innovation, not run around patching operational problems within their internal environment.”

Principa had been juggling numerous challenges with regards to system efficiency and scalability, delivering a less than optimal support to product innovation and growth. The company serves multiple clients over more than 20 countries and has delivered more than 2000 analytical projects to date.

Building software solutions, predictive models, wrangling client data, refining complexities – the company was focused on providing exceptionally high-end data driven solutions and services to its customer base, while navigating ongoing IT operational constraints.

“Our infrastructure partner was holding us back and consuming valuable time and focus from our IT department” says Rossouw. “We had to shift the focus away from problem solving support towards business strategy, proactive investment and streamlined IT infrastructure. We had already partnered with First Technology in modernising our hardware so it made sense to partner with them in modernising our data centre infrastructure, streamlining our business operations and leveraging the capabilities of a hybrid cloud environment.”

The first step was to move the Principa core servers hosted in an on-premise data centre in Johannesburg to Cape Town in the middle of a global pandemic. This involved shifting vast racks down a long road at a time when transport systems were locked down and difficult to navigate. It was a task seamlessly managed by the First Technology team and the data infrastructure was efficiently re-located, connected and integrated.

“It took the team less than 24 hours to move the equipment from Johannesburg to Cape Town, get all the connectivity up and running and then activate the required access for our teams,” says Rossouw. “In spite of a severe national lockdown, the racks were ready, the data integrity assured, and the system running to our high standards of five nines (99,99999) availability. The move gave us the improved latency, connectivity and heft we needed to tap into a fully realised and capable hybrid cloud environment.”

First Technology ensured that the infrastructure was properly integrated into a hybrid cloud environment. The company now has dedicated server racks in a FirstNet Cloud environment with the guaranteed five nines of uptime availability and has fundamentally shifted the complexities of system maintenance and IT downtime.

In addition, the problems of connectivity, power, cooling and both physical and cybersecurity had to be addressed. “Security is one of the critical aspects of this move,” says Rossouw. “Our data and solutions have to be hosted in a highly secure environment so this move allowed us to invest into robust security designed to mitigate serious risks such as data or security breaches.”

The solution delivers to all of Principa’s comprehensive Infrastructure-as-a-Service and Software-as-a-Service requirements, minimising the need for additional support and ensuring that there is a reduced risk of poor service delivery. With one service provider and a single point of service, the Principa hybrid cloud solution is tightly managed within rigorous confines. It also opens the door to further expand services, customer solutions and capabilities as the IT team can now focus on critical strategic initiatives rather than on day-to-day operational support.

“We specialise in data-driven solutions and we had to position our technology to align with our solution delivery,” concludes Rossouw. “We are absolutely compliant with regulations such as PoPIA and GDPR, among others and we provide comprehensive protection for the data we work with. We can engage with our remote workforce, a diverse client base and ongoing market demands, on demand. And we can adapt our proficiencies to meet evolving business strategies as and when required, scaling our hybrid cloud investment to suit what we need. It’s the best of both worlds.”

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