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Linxdatacenter grew by 30% in the cloud segment in 2020

Компания Linxdatacenter, международный эксперт в сфере высокотехнологичных решений по хранению данных, облачных сервисов и телекоммуникаций, отчиталась о финансовых итогах 2020 года. Рост бизнеса составил 8%, наибольший прирост наблюдался в облачном сегменте – на 30% по сравнению с предыдущим годом

Linxdatacenter, an international provider of data storage, cloud and telecom solutions, reports its financial results of 2020. The overall growth of business in comparison to the previous year was 8%, with the largest increase of 30% observed in the cloud segment.

These results exceed market expectations in general: the Gartner and iKS-Consulting analysts forecast that the market of public cloud services in Russia will grow by 20-27% in 2020, taking into account crisis changes in the economy.

The experts of Linxdatacenter note that the DC market in Russia grew in 2020 mostly owing to increasing requirements of the business and the state regarding cloud solutions, virtualization of IT infrastructure, a need for secure and scalable digital environment for the staff’s remote work.

In 2020, Linxdatacenter launched an entire ecosystem of solutions enabling customers to scale their IT resources, increase circuit bandwidth, create fully set-up, integrated and protected remote desktops, and employ tools for infrastructure backup. These solutions were based on the company’s own data centers and global cloud platforms including Amazon Web Services. This approach allowed to increase IT resources rapidly whenever operating load jumped up.

Linxdatacenter’s business also developed due to demand for consulting services related to DC operations, when an IT provider helps customers to set up their DC management processes by improving operational processes. The company introduced an Outsourcing of Data Center Maintenance and Management service including DC audit, upgrade and maintenance.

The market also demonstrated a clear need for complex solutions of network infrastructure construction and maintenance: Linxdatacenter undertakes to solve all tasks related to development and support of their customers’ network as a part of the Network-as-a-Service solution. A big scale project in this field was implemented in the summer of 2020 for a large enterprise. The project involved backup of all network nodes and increase of the network’s reliability as a whole.

“2020 forced companies to focus on their key business and digitalize their operations as fast as possible, handing over an ever growing number of IT tasks to specialized IT providers. In this regard, the main challenge for the data centers was their ability to react to changes in the economy in time and offer state-of-the-art technological solutions to the market without delay,” says Olga Sokolova, General Director, Linxdatacenter Russia. “We have been expanding the range of our services and exploring new areas that became necessary during the pandemic: shift of our own staff to the remote work format, introduction of additional services of monitoring customers’ equipment and the DC infrastructure. We managed to utilize our acquired telecom expertise and start providing customized network solutions to the customers.

We got confirmation that our solutions, platforms and processes are adapted to force majeure situations, and our team is fully capable to react to the market changes quickly and professionally.”

As a part of the competencies development and quality increase strategy, Linxdatacenter passed the PCI DSS 3.2.1 certification asserting the quality of physical, virtual and network infrastructure of Linxdatacenter, its software and security systems for the purpose of carrying out secure digital financial transactions.

The company was also reassessed for the Uptime Institute’s Management & Operations Stamp of Approval. Linxdatacenter still remains the only commercial data center in Russia with this quality stamp. The audit showed that Linxdatacenter improved its past results and even exceeded average results of data centers passing the certification of the Uptime Institute. Some of Linxdatacenter’s practices received high estimate of the expert committee and were included in the training courses of the Uptime Institute on DC maintenance.

Another step in the expertise development was certification for ISO 22301:2019 Business Continuity, which indicates protection of business processes from inerruptions and the speed of disaster recovery.

2020 was not an easy year, with the need for organizing remote work. It demonstrated the necessity to change many internal processes. Aside from bringing events and internal communication into the online format, the company’s HR department introduced many measures aimed to support the team: taxi service for transportation, provision of individual protection means, COVID testing. Despite the external factors, the internship program successfully continued. Several internal digitalization projects were launched, including a corporate portal and a document exchange system. In order to strengthen teamwork and increase productivity, the company implement a project approach both for internal and external initiatives.

На протяжении года компания Linxdatacenter неоднократно становилась участником различных отраслевых рейтингов, подготовленных независимыми агентствами, войдя в том числе в списки including Largest DC Providers, Largest IT Service Providers in the Enterprise Sector and Largest IT Service Providers for Carriers. The company entered the Top-3 in the ranking of IaaS Providers by SLA, thus confirming responsible attitude towards continuity and reliability of its services. Linxdatacenter entered the Top-10 of leading Russian IaaS providers of the Enterprise level as well, according to the CNews ranking. топ-10 лидеров в стране в сегменте поставщиков облачной инфраструктуры IaaS (Infrastructure-as-a-Service) уровня Enterprise.

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How we optimized customer data center management

Data center is a complex IT and engineering object, which requires professionalism at all levels of management: from managers to technical specialists and executors of maintenance works. Here's how we helped our client put operational management in corporate data centers in order.
 

Taras Chirkov, Head of Data Center in St. Petersburg  in St. Petersburg 

Konstantin Nagorny, chief engineer of data center in St. Petersburg.  in St. Petersburg 

Data center is a complex IT and engineering object, which requires professionalism at all levels of management: from managers to technical specialists and executors of maintenance works. Here's how we helped our client put operational management in corporate data centers in order.  

Management is in the lead 

The most advanced and expensive IT equipment will not bring the expected economic benefits if proper processes of engineering systems operation in the data center, where it is located, are not established.  

The role of reliable and productive data centers in today's economy is constantly growing along with the requirements for their uninterrupted operation. However, there is a big systemic problem on this front.  

A high level of "uptime" - failure-free operation of a data center without downtime - depends very much on the engineering team that manages the site. And there is no single formalized school of data center management.  

And there is no single formalized school of data center management.    

Nationwide  

In practice, the situation with the operation of data centers in Russia is as follows.  

Data centers in the commercial segment usually have certificates confirming their management competence. Not all of them do, but the very specifics of the business model, when a provider is responsible to the client for the quality of service, money and reputation in the market, obligates them to own the subject. 

The segment of corporate data centers that serve companies' own needs lags far behind commercial data centers in terms of operational quality. The internal customer is not treated as carefully as the external customer, not every company understands the potential of well-configured management processes. 

Finally, government departmental data centers - in this regard, they are often unknown territory due to their closed nature. An international audit of such facilities is understandably impossible. Russian state standards are just being developed.  

This all translates into a "who knows what" situation. "Diverse" composition of operation teams composed of specialists with different backgrounds, different approaches to the organization of corporate architecture, different views and requirements to IT departments.  

There are many factors that lead to this state of affairs, one of the most important is the lack of systematic documentation of operational processes. There are a couple of introductory articles by Uptime Institute which give an idea of the problem and how to overcome it. But then it's necessary to build the system by your own efforts. And not every business has enough resources and competence for that.  ⠀⠀  

Meanwhile, even a small systematization of management processes according to industry best practices always yields excellent results in terms of improving the resilience of engineering and IT systems.  

Case: through thorns to the relative order 

Let's illustrate by the example of an implemented project. A large international company with its own data center network approached us. The request was for help to optimize the management processes at three sites where IT systems and business-critical applications are deployed.  

The company had recently undergone an audit of its headquarters and received a list of inconsistencies with corporate standards with orders to eliminate them. We were brought in as a consultant for this as a bearer of industry competence: we have been developing our own data center management system and have been educating on the role of quality in operational processes for several years.  

Communication with the client's team began. The specialists wanted to get a well-established system of data center engineering systems operation, documented on the processes of monitoring, maintenance and troubleshooting. All this had to ensure optimization of the infrastructure component in terms of IT equipment continuity.  

And here began the most interesting part.  

Know thyself 

To assess the level of data centers in terms of compliance with standards, you need to know the exact requirements of the business to IT systems: what is the level of internal SLA, the allowable period of equipment downtime, etc.  

It became clear right away that the IT department did not know exactly what the business wanted. There were no internal criteria of service quality, no understanding of the logic of their own infrastructure.  

Colleagues simply had no idea what the permissible downtime for IT-related operations was, what the optimal system recovery time in case of a disaster was, or how the architecture of their own applications was structured. For example, we had to figure out whether a "crash" of one of the data centers would be critical to the application, or if there were no components affecting the application.  

Without knowing such things, it is impossible to calculate any specific operational requirements. The client recognized the problem and increased coordination between IT and the business to develop internal requirements and establish relationships to align operations.  

Once an understanding of the IT systems architecture was achieved, the team was able to summarize the requirements for operations, contractors, and equipment reliability levels.  

Improvements in the process 

Our specialists traveled to sites to assess infrastructure, read existing documentation, and checked the level of compliance of data center projects with actual implementation.  

Interviews with the responsible employees and their managers became a separate area of focus. They told what and how they do in different work situations, how the key processes of engineering systems' operation are arranged.  

After starting the work and getting acquainted with the specifics of the task the client "gave up" a little: we heard the request "just to write all the necessary documentation", quickly and without deep diving into the processes.  

However, proper optimization of data center "engineering" management implies the task to teach people to properly assess the processes and write unique documentation for them based on the specifics of the object.  

It is impossible to come up with a working document for a specific maintenance area manager - unless you work with him at the site continuously for several months. Therefore this approach was rejected: We found local leaders who were willing to learn themselves and lead their subordinates.  

Having explained the algorithm of documents creation, requirements to their contents and principles of instructions ecosystem organization, for the next six months we controlled the process of detailed writing of documentation and step-by-step transition of the personnel to work in a new way. 

This was followed by a phase of initial support for work on the updated regulations, which lasted one year in a remote format. Then we moved on to training and drills - the only way to put the new material into practice.  

What's been done 

In the process, we were able to resolve several serious issues.  

First of all, we avoided double documentation, which the client's employees feared. To this end, we combined in the new regulations the regulatory requirements applied to various engineering systems as standard (electrics, cooling, access control), with industry best practices, creating a transparent documentation structure with simple and logical navigation.   

The principle of "easy to find, easy to understand, easy to remember" was complemented by the fact that the new information was linked to the old experience and knowledge of the employees. 

Next, we reshuffled the staff of service engineers: several people turned out to be completely unprepared for the change. The resistance of some was successfully overcome in the course of the project through the demonstration of benefits, but a certain percentage of employees turned out to be untrained and unresponsive to new things.  

But we were surprised by the company's frivolous attitude to its IT infrastructure: from the lack of redundancy of critical systems to the chaos in the structure and management.  

In 1.5 years the engineering systems management processes have been pumped up to the level that allowed the company's specialists to successfully report "for quality" to the auditors from the headquarters.  

With the support of the operating component development pace the company will be able to pass any existing certification of data centers from leading international agencies.  

Summary 

In general, the prospects of consulting in the field of operational management of data centers, in our opinion, are the brightest.  

The process of digitalization of the economy and the public sector is in full swing. Yes, there will be a lot of adjustments in the launch of new projects and plans for the development of old ones, but this will not change the essence - the operation should be improved at least to improve the efficiency of already built sites.  

The main problem here: many managers do not understand what thin ice they are walking on, not paying proper attention to this point. The human factor is still the main source of the most unpleasant accidents and failures. And it needs to be explained.  

Government data center projects are also becoming more relevant now and require increased attention in terms of operations: the scope of government IT systems is growing. Here, too, the development and introduction of a system of standardization and certification of sites will be required.  

When the requirements to public data centers in Russia at the level of legislation will be reduced to a standard, it can be applied to commercial data centers, including for the placement of public IT resources.  

The work in this area is ongoing, we are participating in this process in consultation with the Ministry of Digital and by building competencies for teaching courses on data center operation at the ANO Data Center. There is not much experience on such tasks in Russia, and we believe that we should share it with colleagues and clients. 

Linxdatacenter grew by 30% in the cloud segment in 2020

BEST, money transfer and payments operator

business challenge

The customer faced a technical issue with a persistent BGP session flag with Linxdatacenter hardware. We examined the problem and found out that one of customer’s hosts was under a DDoS attack.

Because of the distributed nature of the attack, traffic couldn’t be filtered effectively, and disconnecting the host from the external network wasn’t an option. The attack stopped after changes in the server configuration, but resumed the day after. A 5.5 Gbps attack overloaded the junctions with internet providers, affecting other Linx Cloud users. To mitigate the effects of the attack, we employed a dedicated DDoS protection service.

Solution

To ensure the continuous availability of resources hosted in Linx Cloud, we rerouted all the customer’s traffic through StormWall Anti-DDoS system. The attack was stopped within half an hour. To prevent future cyberattacks, we organized all connections to the customer’s resources through the StormWall network.

client:

BEST, money transfer and payments operator

business challenge

The customer faced a technical issue with a persistent BGP session flag with Linxdatacenter hardware. We examined the problem and found out that one of customer’s hosts was under a DDoS attack.

Because of the distributed nature of the attack, traffic couldn’t be filtered effectively, and disconnecting the host from the external network wasn’t an option. The attack stopped after changes in the server configuration, but resumed the day after. A 5.5 Gbps attack overloaded the junctions with internet providers, affecting other Linx Cloud users. To mitigate the effects of the attack, we employed a dedicated DDoS protection service.

Solution

To ensure the continuous availability of resources hosted in Linx Cloud, we rerouted all the customer’s traffic through StormWall Anti-DDoS system. The attack was stopped within half an hour. To prevent future cyberattacks, we organized all connections to the customer’s resources through the StormWall network.

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