Case study: Enspire Vblock

Melbourne-based ISP Enspire has embraced the cloud by transforming its business from providing internet connectivity to instead offering organisations a "hosted desktop" service using the Vblock.
Written by Munir Kotadia, Contributor on

Melbourne-based Internet Service Provider (ISP) Enspire has embraced the cloud by transforming its business from providing internet connectivity to instead offering organisations a "hosted desktop" service using Vblock.

Vblock is a single datacentre module that comes preconfigured with storage from EMC, networking and connectivity from Cisco and virtualisation courtesy of VMWare.

Enspire CEO Geoffrey Nicholas says Vblock has enabled the company to successfully transform its business, and has set a "big hairy audacious goal" of supplying over 10,000 seats using the technology.

"Enspire is now what we would call a cloud provider or cloud services or cloud solutions provider. It is a new term we have coined. People have heard of ISPs but we now consider ourselves a CSP.

"Five or six years ago we had a strategic session to talk about what we thought the future of cloud computing would look like. We were adamant that cloud was the way of the future although we didn't know that term at the time. Back then we called it 'hosted desktop'."

According to Nicholas, Enspire's transformation got off to a slow start because before Vblock arrived its services were slow to deploy and required continuous updating.

"We put our first client into a hosted desktop in August 2006 and the problem we found was that it wasn't scalable. Every time we signed a new client we had to basically rebuild the same platform. So if we had a 40-seat firm and added another 40-seat firm, we would have to rebuild everything again and again and again.

"We thought there has got to be a better way to do this. Two years ago we started looking for what we wanted to term 'a production environment' and that is when we came across Vblock," he said.

Darren McCullum, VMware and Cisco Business Manager at EMC, described Vblock as the industry's first "fully integrated stack".


Geoffrey Nicholas (Credit: Munir Kotadia/ZDNet Australia)

"Rather than giving our customers the recipe for combining our technologies, Vblock combines it for them. Part of Vblock is shipping with unified infrastructure manager — a single tool that allows you, as the customer, to manage the resources in an entire Vblock and also to automate the provisioning and de-provisioning of resources in a Vblock.

"So a single product, a single management tool can help you get the most out of the product and with a single support mechanism," added McCullum.

The initial results using Vblock, which is packaged into what Enspire calls Go Desktop, have been "fantastic", according to Enspire's Nicholas.

"We have a number of clients who are new to our Go Desktop product and they have gone straight onto Vblock [without even knowing]. We are about to start migrating existing clients onto the Vblock as well. We have three clients on there at the moment and we have got probably another 20 or so that are slated to go, so all up it will be round about 1000 seats that we will have on the Vblock sometime this quarter."

Nicholas said his staff are enjoying the flexibility and reliability of Vblock.

"The engineering staff just love it — the ease at which they can migrate and move around the environment, run up virtual machines, all of that can be done so much more quickly and so much more easily than what we were able to do previously."

Enspire used system integrator Logicalis to provide Vblock. Logicalis datacentre practice manager Stan Sotiropoulos said Vblock allows Enspire to focus on its main business.

"It gives them an opportunity to really focus on providing business value back to their customers and not focus on developing, integrating and supporting an underlying infrastructure. So what the Vblock actually provides ... is the confidence that their service levels will be met and they can concentrate on providing those services," he said.

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