Hosted Exchange Server
Rip and Replace
As a managed service provider, Unico Data wanted to offer its Exchange customers an enhanced service, which required the replacement of its legacy Citrix Netscalers with an intelligent, easy to manage and flexible alternative ADC solution that could also provide them with significant CapEX and OpEx savings.
Kemp's innovative metered licensing model, MELA, proved to be the key differentiator for Unico Data when evaluating ADC vendors, by providing increased deployment flexibility and the replacement of a costly up-front investment in ADC infrastructure with a simple monthly charge based on ADC usage.
Unico Data replaced Citrix Netscalers with Kemp’s Virtual LoadMasters, allowing them to break away from the traditional box licensing model with a usage-based subscription that places no restriction on the number of actual load balancer instances deployed and can flex to meet changing demands on a month-to-month basis.
Unico Data switches ADC vendor to Kemp for a flexible, scalable licensing model that allows them to provide optimal services for their customers
The analysts at MarketsandMarkets predict that by 2022 the market for managed and hosted services will grow by around 11 percent, with the digital transformation serving as the main growth driver. Unico Data is well positioned for this development, offering innovative services for the optimisation, management and maintenance of infrastructures.
The company was founded in 1991 and has its headquarters in the Swiss village of Münsingen. Specializing in outsourcing and cloud services, it has some 50 employees whose expertise ranges from analyses and consulting to service and 24/7 support. The IT service provider considers managed cloud stations to be a field with great potential for its customers, which include both large corporations and SMEs.
More than 25 years of experience and extensive know-how enable the specialists at Unico Data to set up ICT environments that meet a wide range of requirements in terms of ergonomics, security and performance – a claim to which the service provider has committed itself in front of both its customers and its employees. Hosting customers work directly on the servers in the Unico Cloud, enabling them to benefit from maximum security, the latest virus protection and continuous data backup as well as up-to-date software and state-of-the-art technology.
Via its data centre, Unico Data provides a multi-client capable Exchange infrastructure with several thousand mailboxes to around 160 hosting customers. In addition, the IT specialists can operate a dedicated Exchange infrastructure for individual customers on request. Until October 2017, Citrix NetScaler was Unico’s ADC of choice, both in the hosted Exchange and the dedicated Exchange infrastructures to balance the loads and thus ensure high availability and reliability. However, the all-in-one application delivery controller (ADC) still used Microsoft’s Forefront Thread Management Gateway (TMG) as a reverse proxy, which has been discontinued by now. The NetScalers were supported and configured by the network team while the Exchange team was responsible for the Exchange servers and TMG servers.
This division of tasks proved to be impractical: The teams’ different focal points – i.e. Exchange versus infrastructure – meant that it was not always possible to clearly allocate responsibilities and the underlying tasks, leading to unnecessary delays when it came to troubleshooting. In addition, the performance of the Citrix NetScaler load balancers did not meet their expectations.
The aim: a highly available and secure Exchange environment
In January 2017, Unico Data therefore went on the search for a new solution that had to be quick and easy to implement with minimal employee training. It also had to enable customers to access Outlook both internally from their terminal server environment in the data centre and externally via fat clients, tablet PCs, smartphones and the like. In addition, the service provider attached great importance to high user-friendliness.
“During our search for a suitable solution, we carried out a detailed market analysis and decided on Kemp’s Application Delivery Controllers with their usage-based licensing capabilities.
“The license takes the form of a Metered Enterprise Licensing Agreement, or MELA for short. This is a usage-based and therefore very flexible license model which meets our requirements optimally because it avoids costly initial investments in infrastructure and thus reduces our risk.”
As virtual appliances, the usage-based Using MELA to license our ADCs is real alternative to hardware in virtualization-focused data centres or hybrid environments. Thanks to their powerful performance we are capable of scaling 10,000 SSL-encrypted transactions/second (TPS) up to a data throughput of 5 Gbit/second.
Kemp’s usage-based license model offers simple, flexible, multi-level licensing. The solution dynamically provides as many ADC instances as necessary, ensuring permanent availability and optimum response times of the applications. The costs can be easily calculated in advance, and as a protective measure there are cost limits that cannot be exceeded even during unplanned usage peaks.
The first ADCs were installed in just one day and have been running without problems ever since. “They were implemented by our IT partner Smart Outcome As one of the first MELA customers, we maintained an ongoing dialogue with Kemp. Additional features we wanted were included;. for example, it’s now possible to download and use commercial WAF and GEO-IP blacklist rules” added Enggist. Thanks to predefined templates, these features were quickly set up, configured and integrated in the infrastructure. According to Enggist, the configuration and administration process is so straightforward that the time required for deployment and operation could be reduced considerably.
Since the installation, the Exchange servers are accessed solely via Kemp’s ADCs, which effortlessly balance the loads on the servers. Furthermore, they ensure the security of the IT architecture through enterprise features such as Edge Security Pack (ESP) and a Web Application Firewall (WAF). Customers of Unico Data thus benefit from a highly available, modern and secure IT environment.
Conclusion and outlook
Unico Data is very satisfied with Kemp’s fast and competent support. The same is true of the software’s user-friendliness, both in terms of implementation and subsequent operation. Offered services can be set up very quickly, allowing Unico Data to save time when it comes to support.
Stefan Enggist summarises: “Since the migration, our Exchange servers with Kemp’s ADCs and Metered Licensing have been running flawlessly and reliably. The performance is excellent. Our requirements have been met. We only use these ADCs for load balancing and as an Exchange reverse proxy now. And in the long term, we also expect to save time during the operation of the systems.” Another advantage is that the Kemp products are less expensive to operate than the Citrix NetScaler load balancers.
In the medium term, Unico Data plans to operate the Microsoft SharePoint servers with the help of the Kemp ADCs as well.