The Connect Distribution websites are accessed daily by a high number of customers who depend on the sites to order, track and manage various stock lines. Customers place high levels of trust in the company to ensure real-time visibility of stock and distribution, which is hugely dependent on the reliability and management of the hosted platform and applications underpinning the websites’ functionality.
In the 2009 financial year, Connect Distribution experienced an exponential increase in consumer traffic to its websites, and recorded 27% growth in its online business. Following this success, the business began developing its consumer services and strengthening its repair care offering. However, Andrew Button, Systems Designer at Connect Distribution, found this online expansion raised significant challenges in terms of the management of the business’s hosting platform and its increasingly complex applications.
Button said: “Before our expansion into the consumer and service sectors, our business customers had intensive, yet relatively predictable, usage patterns. However, as the diversity and number of visitors to our range of sites increased, we were faced with unexpected capacity demands, and began to experience outages that could have negatively affected our entire customer base.”
"In addition, the skills and resources of the IT team at Connect Distribution were being sorely stretched,” said Button. “When faced with large traffic spikes as a result of a customer’s successful marketing campaign for instance, we’d have to manipulate and re-engineer the existing platform ourselves to get that extra bit of necessary performance out of it. However, this led to a system which was increasingly complicated and difficult to support. So we urgently needed to simplify our hosting infrastructure, and find a way to improve our website support.”
Connect Distribution had been using Claranet’s hosting and connectivity services for some time, and in 2009, it approached the managed service provider to explore how it could better leverage the partnership. “Ultimately,” said Button, "our in-house team was limited in terms of its ability to provide 24/7 support to the websites. So outsourcing more of our hosting work to Claranet seemed a natural progression. In the face of steadily increasing capacity demands and service complexity, Claranet’s managed application hosting service was of tremendous interest to us because it was capable of supporting our business growth strategies."
As such, the company decided to upgrade to this hosting service.
Claranet then put together a managed application hosting solution that, as Andrew Button explained, "ticked all our boxes. Claranet ran technical workshops to determine how their team could cater to our needs. Together we devised key boundary markers in terms of responsibilities for maintenance and support.”
Explaining why Claranet was chosen over competitors, Button said:
Throughout this period of change, we had been keeping an eye on the hosting market, and it was clear that Claranet offered a highly innovative application hosting solution. Claranet’s key differentiator is that it can offer an integrated networking, hosting and management solution. Another unique attribute that attracted us was its provision of a single Service Level Agreement (SLA).
This allowed us to negotiate an overall uptime guarantee that was inclusive of every service element. This was in stark contrast to other managed service providers who insisted upon separate SLAs for the firewalls, the services, the networking and so on. Claranet has certainly alleviated the stress of managing multiple SLAs!”