Neogenia: The cloud is amazing. We’re always trying to come up with yet another use for it
Neogenia, a successful young company from Brno, Czech Republic, has been excelling in the field of marketing for five years. They’re innovators who try to push the boundaries of their industry through modern technologies. Recently, they have got a new private cloud by Master DC.
What do they like about it the most, how did the migration to private cloud go and what are their future plans? Here are their answers, courtesy of Neogenia’s CTO, Jan Simecky.
Neogenia is a technological innovator, but that’s a really broad term. What do you specifically focus on?
We mainly focus on the development of new technologies that can be used for communication and marketing. One of our flagship projects is the Czech portal Zlate Slevy, one of the biggest discount and deal aggregator in the country. Another is the SMSbrana project that clients use for complex marketing strategies using cell phone text messages. It allows them to manage and send various kinds of messages through an easy-to-use interface. It provides the ability to send transaction info or marketing messages, allows easy feedback collection and has many other features. We can also take care of voice communication. Neogenia has developed Neogenia Voice and we have recently unveiled a project that rolls all these capabilities into one. It can help mayors better inform people, for example.
What is Neogenia, s.r.o.
Neogenia je vyspělý technologický inovátor v oblasti internetových služeb a komunikačních nástrojů. Neogenia působí na trhu už přes pět let a patří mezi přední společnosti na poli slevového, direct a proximity marketingu. Stojí například za úspěšným slevovým portálem Zlaté Slevy. Projekty Neogenie celkem denně navštěvuje až 70 tisíc uživatelů a jejich počet neustále roste. Firma má centrálu v Brně a městu se snaží pomáhat – například dlouhodobě podporuje Nadační fond dětské onkologie Krtek v Brně.
Until recently, your projects have been running in public cloud. Then you have migrated into a private cloud. What makes you favour clouds?
The reason we first moved into the cloud was the fact that all our projects were growing. We’re always expanding them. Their requirements for server performance are growing as well. Cloud allows us to react to these demands. And we can add new features into our products in real time. Right now we’re implementing complex questionnaire structures and other functions into our Neogenia Voice.
The difference between private and public cloud
Zásadním rozdílem mezi oběma druhy cloudu je ten, že klient s privátním cloudem s nikým nesdílí infrastrukturu. Řešení je designováno na míru podle jeho potřeb, nejdříve je nutné provést důkladnou analýzu. Oproti tomu v public cloudu má každý klient zaručený svůj výkon, ale ze stejných hardwarových prostředků čerpá více klientů. Výhodou tohoto řešení je fakt, že vstupní náklady do public cloudu jsou pro jednotlivé zákazníky velmi nízké, zatímco u privátního může být vstupní investice vyšší. Privátní cloud je vhodné využít tehdy, má-li klient velmi specifické požadavky na infrastrukturu, dostupnost výkonu, nebo bezpečnost (třeba kvůli plnění různých certifikačních podmínek).
Why was the private cloud a better choice?
Private cloud is important for us because we’re always developing. That means that we often need to run more than one instance at a time. However, a combination of some types of software can be troublesome to run on a server. That’s where virtualization comes in handy.
But virtualization often means sharing resources and that held us back in the public cloud. Even though we had our performance reserved, sometimes we needed more in such a short time interval that VMware was just not cutting it. We used a reservation pool where performance was ready for these spikes in demand, but with time even this solution wasn’t enough.
As developers, we often need to test new things. Public cloud meant that we had to shut a virtual machine down, copy an image for ten minutes, then start it up again and finally test the change. It was just not quick enough for our needs.
Private cloud allows me to clone a machine on-the-run to another computer. All I have to do is change an IP address and I can start testing. After I’m done, I just delete the server and continue developing.
So in testing and development of new features, the private cloud moved us up a notch. And maybe more than one.
What’s the status of your infrastructure now?
We’re now trying to move various parts of our IT into the cloud. We’re migrating apps needed to run the office, even. We’re always trying to come up with other things to move into the cloud. Availability and performance are both much higher now, so we can virtualize even services that had to be run on their own physical servers.
So what do you currently run in the cloud?
Apart from all our company internal services, intranets and so on, there’s the whole core of the text message system. And there are also systems for Neogenia Voice and servers for Zlate Slevy in there as well. The cloud permeates through all our project.
Why does Neogenia need a private cloud?
Neogenia má na cloud řadu specifických požadavků. Její aplikace, a to především Voice, vyžadují nízkou latenci a přenosový jitter, což jsou drobné fluktuace v přenosových časech mezi jednotlivými pakety. „To jsou veličiny, kterých se ve sdíleném prostředí špatně dosahuje,“ vysvětlil technický ředitel Master Internet Martin Žídek. Odborníci Neogenie kvůli vývoji dál potřebují možnost velmi rychlých záloh a obnovení, což je v public cloudu obtížné řešit z hlediska práv. „Náš public cloud je výborný, ale v privátním cloudu je více prostoru pro změny platformy a softwaru podle individuálních požadavků klienta,“ dodal Žídek.
What were your impressions of migration into the private cloud?
Very positive. We have done the migration ourselves, it was not difficult at all. Still, we always had reliable people from Master DC ready to help us. We turned off a machine, copied the virtual image and loaded it into the new environment. Every machine took us about an hour or two, depending on their interconnectivity with other machines through addresses. We were done after one weekend and few evenings of work. It was very quick and seeing the benefits the migration had, I would do it again in a heartbeat.
One huge factor is that we were really looking forward to the new environment. It’s very detailed. When I showed it to my co-worker, he almost didn’t believe all the options we now have in running the cloud.
Are you satisfied with the performance?
Definitely, the performance is great. Plus we don’t have to worry about tiny changes in hardware and can overprovision a server with power as we would a physical machine.
Can you think of a situation where the private cloud really helped you?
Lately we have been trying to solve an issue with one of our servers. Through the course of an evening, we made over twenty clones before we found out where the trouble was coming from. Without a private cloud, this would take much longer and would be near impossible with purely physical computers – every attempt to solve the issue would be a risk to the server.
Some companies are afraid of the financial aspect of the cloud. What was your experience?
Clouds from other providers are often offered as an on-demand service, so clients only access their performance for short periods of time, as it wouldn’t be economical in the longer term. Basically, they are buying expensive performance for short amounts of time. At Master DC, the deal is different – the performance is reserved for you. The initial investment needed for the private cloud might be a bit higher, but further expenses are very low. In the end it all plays out well for us. And we don’t have to wonder whether or not to slow our server down, because it’s not eating through expensive performance anymore.
What are your future plans?
We are planning to move as much of our infrastructure as possible into the cloud. The virtualization is a beautiful thing. Licenses for virtualization are quite expensive, so the expenses are close to physical servers, but the cloud makes everything simpler and more comfortable.