Intermedia - Pan Manager customer profile

Recently, I had a chance to exchange messages with Brent Rich, Intermedia's Director of Technical Operations. His organization has deployed a managed virtualized environment based upon Egenera's Pan Manager and a Dell hardware platform.
Written by Dan Kusnetzky, Contributor

Recently, I had a chance to exchange messages with Brent Rich, Intermedia's Director of Technical Operations. His organization has deployed a managed virtualized environment based upon Egenera's Pan Manager and a Dell hardware platform. Since I posted on the announcement of the Dell/Egenera relationship (see Egenera: New pals for PAN Manager), I thought you'd like to hear from someone actually using the technology.

Please tell me who you are and what your organization does

Founded in 1995 Intermedia is a Software as a Service provider, offering Hosted Exchange Services, web hosting, and other hosted messaging and collaboration solutions to small and medium businesses.  Intermedia is one of the largest Exchange hosting providers, with more than 300,000 business class mailboxes under management.  In 2006, Intermedia was the first provider to begin offering Exchange 2007 as a hosted service, and was the first to begin offering Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007 as a hosted service.

Brent Rich is Intermedia’s Director of Technical Operations. His department is responsible for design, implementation, and maintenance of Intermedia’s data center infrastructure to ensure the best available service performance and reliability for Intermedia’s customers.  Brent also oversees the US support department, responsible for the daily and ongoing email and web hosting operations.

What are you doing that needed this technology?

As the largest provider of premium hosted Microsoft Exchange services, Intermedia is continually seeking technologies, products, and overall solutions that help us to better increase flexibility, service reliability and scalability.  With our constantly expanding customer base and large partners such as Dell and Alltel Wireless, Intermedia must have an infrastructure capable of responding to very dynamic workloads without sacrificing service.

What products did you consider before selecting something?

Because of our need for technical flexibility, Intermedia was looking for the best vehicle to separate the application layer from the physical layer and we considered all of our options for doing so, including virtualization.

Intermedia today leverages virtualization heavily, but our testing determined that the physical hardware flexibility was better obtained through a true orchestration solution, over building a similar solution using virtualization.  In addition to being the superior solution for our needs, the Dell/Egenera solution was also the most cost effective.

4.Why was this product selected over the others?

The Dell / Egenera PAN Solution solves a lingering problem for IT Operations. How do you effectively and efficiently manage your physical assets within a remote data center?  Although there are many ways to accomplish this, Intermedia believes the Dell / Egenera PAN Solution is the best technical choice as well as the most cost effective.

Our very dynamic workload creates a need to adapt almost instantly to capacity changes. Even though our services have redundancy in an N+1 fashion, our Risk Tolerance does not permit running without this redundancy for longer than 1 hour.  Quick provisioning of new replacement hardware is critical and the automation the Dell/Pan solution provides to accomplish this makes it a very attractive solution.

Virtualization can provide a similar solution but our testing found the Dell /Egenera PAN solution to be more cost effective.  As an added benefit, this solution is more “green” due to the reduction in spare hardware needed to support the automatic redundancy abilities.

What tangible benefits has the organization received that can be directly attributed to the use of this technology?

Intermedia believes that our IT architecture, now bolstered with the Dell / Egenera solution, is flexible and scalable enough to maintain itself well into the next three to five years. Our current technology roadmap also involves leveraging this new solution in all of our datacenters – something we are extremely excited to achieve!

What advice would you offer others facing similar challenges?

Do your homework. There were widely differing opinions inside of Intermedia on leveraging virtualization to abstract the application from the physical hardware and we almost went down that road.  But testing showed that this option did not address our need to replace physical hardware resources quickly and efficiently. By using the Dell / Egenera solution we are able to easily replace and reprovision hardware dynamically to support our varying workloads.

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