About the Client
The client is a leading professional funeral and memorialization service provider, with a mission to offer comfort and care to the deceased family. Over the years, the client’s operations have expanded from a single property to include more than 75 funeral, cremation and cemetery locations serving thousands of families across the United States.
Silicus had earlier helped the client migrate their data center from Rackspace to Microsoft Azure. The previous data center was mostly managed by Rackspace, and key workloads were being managed by the vendor.
The client approached Silicus to manage the data center and take over the operations of the key workloads that were previously managed by Rackspace. The client operated a lean IT organization that was focused on strategic IT driven business initiatives, and they did not see the value in their IT team getting involved in day to day IT operations.
The client chose Silicus after getting an overview of our fully managed Microsoft Azure Managed Infrastructure Ops with 24/7 Cloud Ops Center, Microsoft-certified Azure engineers, service automation frameworks, and advanced cloud tools.
Silicus provided Azure infrastructure managed services for the client, while the client’s in-house team of application owners would manage the application workloads running on the infrastructure.
Each of the client’s 75+ locations connected to the data center via a Checkpoint firewall that doubled up as a VPN concentrator, since Azure VPN could not support the large number of connections. Using Checkpoint VPN as a concentrator wasn’t the industry standard.
Secondly, the client owned a few legacy business applications – the ability to make the applications operate on the older versions of the underlying software was technically challenging (eg: one of the applications needed to run on SQL Server 2008).
The client placed a premium on infrastructure security and went for annual PCI audits even though this wasn’t a compliance mandate for their business. This needed additional tactical activities to be completed as part of the managed services.
- Databases – approx. 89, some in high availability sets
- Virtual Machines – 41 servers
- Applications – approx. 20
- Checkpoint firewall with high availability
Scope of Managed Services
Silicus acted as the customer’s first level point of contact for Checkpoint as well as operational, or technical questions and escalations related to the Azure Cloud Services.
- Initial onboarding, Provisioning and Configuration Support
- Infrastructure Monitoring: Azure Virtual Network: Azure VPN Services, Azure Virtual Machines, Network Virtual Appliances
- Windows Server Management
- VM lifecycle management
- OS patch management
- Anti-virus management
- Monitoring of Backups for Virtual Machines and Files/Folders
- Proactive Server Maintenance
- Database Management
- Proactive management of database configuration
- Database Health checks
- Manage Scheduled Database Backups
- Monthly Performance Analysis and Tuning
- Monitor Database High availability (Log Shipping, Mirroring, Always-On Availability Groups)
- Additional on-demand support services including Database Restore
- Virtual Firewall Appliances
- Network Virtual Appliance (NVA) Baseline Configuration, Maintenance and Incident Troubleshooting
- NVA software and operating system (OS) image patching
- NVA software and operating system (OS) version upgrades
- NVA Baseline Configuration Backup Management
- Azure Virtual Network
- Virtual Network [VNET] Baseline Configuration Maintenance and Incident Troubleshooting
- Network Resource & Network Security Group [NSG] Baseline Configuration Maintenance and Incident Troubleshooting
- Network Resource & Network Security Group [NSG] Baseline Rules, Policy and Settings Management
- Azure VPN Gateway Connection Troubleshooting Support
- Standard Network Vulnerability Scanning [Monthly]
Performance Tuning & High Availability Monitoring
Silicus ensured that client’s application met the performance criteria and enabled peak efficiency by optimizing the application performance. This was achieved through periodic performance tuning based on response times, transaction rates, resource utilization, etc. The activities under Performance Tuning included:
- Scheduled Automated Tuning
- Monthly Performance Optimization Review
- Monitor Mirroring
- Monitor Log Shipping
Optimizations and Value Add
- Rightsizing the environment so the client pays for the most optimal computing set up
- Consolidating servers spread across 80 databases and web servers, reduced the number of servers from the initial 10
- Best practices, such as implemented policies around high availability, data protection etc
- Explore more optimal pricing models such as reserved instance, based on the usage history over the last 3 years of operations
Managed Services Process
Silicus followed a combination of proactive and reactive management to detect issues and fix them before it impacts performance. Events received and issues identified by Silicus are escalated to the client for remediation. Client may upfront request Silicus to deploy additional on demand support services without prior approval.
- During an alert, L1 generates a ticket, which triggers an auto email to the client and Silicus’ L2 team
- L2 immediately works on the issue, fixes it and notifies L1. If it’s a back-up related issue, L2 directly contacts the Microsoft Azure team and gets it resolved without involving the client
- Once the issue is resolved, L1 notifies the client and sends them a detailed report on the incident
Service Level Commitments
Silicus SLAs were offered in line with the service plan selected by the client. The SLAs covered the Initial response goals (acknowledgement and response initiation) and Ongoing communication goals (update frequency). Issues were categorized at four levels – Critical, Urgent, Important and Advisory, and the initial response and ongoing communication SLAs were different for each.
Monitoring & Reporting
Enable (Silicus’ in-house tool)
Log Monitoring & Management
Focus on Core Business
Silicus managed services helped the IT team focus on driving strategic initiatives for business growth and competitive differentiation with assurance that the current IT infrastructure would be running at peak performance.
More Efficient IT Operations
Continuous improvements in resource usage and consolidations, coupled with adopting more beneficial pricing models resulted in significant savings to the client’s IT budget.