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In this digital on-demand era, it can be business-critical for start-ups and SMEs to gain access to the strongest technology from day one – but the cost often makes that impossible. Ambitious Norwegian start-up CloudX Services has solved this dilemma, accessing the best Kemp Application Delivery technology to guarantee customer satisfaction, thanks to an innovative new metered licensing model.
Founded by serial entrepreneur Jan Solvang and former CGI director Jon Sjølie, CloudX Services offers the pioneering BIZSKYPE service. This utilizes Microsoft Skype for Business’ little-known telephony capabilities to enable companies to set up every employee’s desktop and mobile device as a universal, integrated communication tool – not just web browsing, emailing and sharing documents with colleagues, but also making and receiving mobile and fixed phone calls from anywhere on any device.
BIZSKYPE works with all the major telco systems, so users can simply plug into the platform through their existing telephony provider and use it for all their business telecom needs. There are no phone subscriptions and being a cloud service, virtually zero initial cost.
With BIZSKYPE, CloudX Services aims to rival Microsoft in the global online telephony business. “We are quite ambitious and want to be the alternative to Microsoft Skype for Business Online,” explains Jan Solvang. “We hope in the future there are just two global cloud services in play – and if Skype for Business Online is not providing customers with what they want, we are the choice.”
But when CloudX Services launched BIZSKYPE based in its Dutch data centre, it quickly realised this centre was too small to support its global expansion plans. So CloudX Services switched to offering BIZSKYPE through the IBM Cloud service, giving it the scalability to deploy the service worldwide through a wide choice of data centres.
However, this switch brought another major business challenge. To make BIZSKYPE ultra-reliable, CloudX Services has to minimise service downtime. That requires load balancing across the servers running BIZSKYPE, so that if one server goes down, customer traffic can be quickly re-routed and kept running. But when CloudX Services trialled BIZSKYPE in the IBM Cloud using the Microsoft-recommended DNS load balancing approach, it found that with any server problems, the service was going down for an unacceptable time of more than 1 minute before it kicked back into action.
“From the very start of BIZSKYPE we have been committed to a ‘customer first’ philosophy, which means that customers need to experience a really great service, even if a server goes down,” Jan said. “We saw that with DNS load balancing – it was 60 seconds-plus before the user was fully up and running again, which would lead to customers getting annoyed and starting to call support.”
Advised by systems integrator blinQ, a high-level Kemp partner, CloudX Services tested Kemp’s virtualized load balancers in their environment. “Our findings in that test were quite dramatic,” Jan said. “Compared to the DNS load balancing delay, when we tested the Kemp load balancers, we saw that we were between 14 and 19 seconds. It was a huge difference.”
Jan was clear that CloudX Services had to have this level of performance.
CloudX Services considered other virtual load balancing options, but Jan said: “We believe Kemp is the best in the world in this field.”
And Kemp offered another crucial advantage – its revolutionary new MELA (Metered Enterprise Licensing Agreement) pricing model. With MELA, customers do not have to buy any licences or hardware upfront: they can access as much Kemp application delivery capacity as they need and simply pay for what they use each month, nothing more.
“Kemp’s MELA option was really important for us,” said Jan. “Being a cloud service ourselves, it fits our business model. We get paid for the consumption of the service and earn all our income per month. So, we always want back-to-back agreements with our vendors to have the same approach to billing.”
CloudX Services fully launched BIZSKYPE in October 2017, running with Kemp 360 Central and Kemp Virtual LoadMasters supported by blinQ. It already has around 100 corporate customers, with 5-200 users each across Norway, The Netherlands and Belgium. The Kemp application delivery fabric is initially designed to support up to 200,000 users but can scale to 1 million users as needed.
Kai Stenberg, Chief Consultant – Kemp VIP at blinQ, points out how Kemp’s always-on approach suits CloudX Services’ growth strategy. “Cloudx Services are planning to go global with BIZSKYPE, so it's vital for them to have the service up and running 24/7. They have to ‘follow the sun’ and cannot just do maintenance in their evening time. With Kemp, they can take down any server for maintenance without losing any connections – the users will not know there is an update going on. CloudX Services can deploy new services and servers quickly with no downtime and as soon as they add a new customer portal or server into the Kemp 360 dashboard, it will be load balanced. They have an application delivery fabric that is flexible, cost-effective, scalable and always right-sized.”
Jan Solvang says simply that Kemp has solved all of CloudX Services’ core business challenges. “The most important thing for us is that customers have a good experience of our service and if something does go down, most of the users should not even notice it, because it’s so quick to get back online,” he said. “It’s all about keeping the customers happy and making sure we don’t kill our support desk. Kemp delivers in terms of that user experience and is the best in the world in doing this.”
He concluded: “We went to Kemp because they gave us the best user experience and also because they offer the MELA licensing model. The fact that we can just consume Kemp services while we grow and only pay for what we use is vital for us. We are now in a position to scale quickly and easily and that’s what we’ve been working on – making sure we are ready for global expansion.”
Kemp is the big differentiator for us when it comes to the user experience and making sure the users do not need to call us. With Kemp we are actually able to achieve that.Jan Solvang