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CASE STUDY:

Netsons Expands Cloud Computing Services Across Europe Using Mirantis OpenStack Private Clouds

Summary

Italian service provider Netsons needed flexible, scalable cloud infrastructure to deliver new cloud computing offerings and expand across Europe. Using Mirantis OpenStack for Kubernetes, Netsons technical staff have the operational freedom, simplified lifecycle management, and scalability they need to launch innovative, cost-efficient cloud computing services and reach new geographic markets.

Company

  • Cloud services and web hosting provider

  • Founded 2005

  • Pescara, Italy headquarters

  • 50 employees

Ambitions for expansion

Originally a web hosting company, Netsons serves 200,000 business customers, almost all based in Italy, including many software development houses and ecommerce companies. The service provider wanted to evolve to meet growing demand for cloud computing while also tapping into the broader European market. Netsons had been using a traditional hypervisor-based approach to address customer hosting requirements, and began offering a cloud-hosting solution using a hyperconverged cloud platform. However, the cloud platform was inflexible, lacked scalability and made operations overly complex. Its legacy services and technical bias also prevented Netsons from delivering important features customers wanted.

Netsons considered a cloud platform from their traditional virtualization provider, but ultimately chose OpenStack for its cutting-edge innovation, backed by a strong global community. The service provider supports many community projects, and open source is an important part of its corporate strategy.

Simplifying OpenStack operations with Kubernetes

One of the main reasons Netsons chose Mirantis OpenStack for Kubernetes (MOSK) was the platform’s operations-centric design, which leverages Kubernetes to make updates, upgrades, and configuration much easier. “Mirantis gives us the flexibility and freedom to operate OpenStack clouds in a more straightforward way,” said Aurelio Forese, Head of Cloud at Netsons. “Having Kubernetes as the underlay was very, very powerful for our technical team in our decision to choose Mirantis. No other vendor offers this way of deployment.”

Additionally, having Mirantis enterprise services and support by their side means Netsons technical staff can invest more time on revenue-generating innovation. “Netsons is a service provider, so we want to focus on selling services built on top of a technology. What Mirantis gives us is the ability to concentrate on building services on top of OpenStack, rather than spending all our time on operations,” Forese said.

“For our web hosting customers, cloud computing is a step towards the future, a means to deliver greater performance and achieve new levels of success.

For Netsons, we see Mirantis in the same way, as a strategic partner who can help us provide higher performance and achieve greater success as we expand our cloud computing services internationally.”

Aurelio Forese, Head of Cloud, Netsons

Architecture design and deployment

Mirantis began with a 2-week Architecture Design Consultation. A Mirantis architect workshopped with Netsons stakeholders for three days to assess their workloads and business and technical requirements before delivering a comprehensive architecture design proposal, including hardware, network, and storage design; hardware and software bill of materials; and a “cloud passport” containing all the information needed to deploy a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) pilot environment.

Key parts of their MVP included basic Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), Role-Based Access Control (RBAC), Single Sign-on (SSO), the ability for end users to choose the storage for root/ephemeral partitions on VMs, and basic backup capabilities for IaaS.

Netsons has highly technical staff and wanted to handle their own operations. After completing private training for OpenStack and Kubernetes operations from Mirantis, they used the MOSK documentation and cloud passport to install the platform and deploy their first cloud environment. They included a Ceph cluster for software-defined storage and a custom integration for billing.

One of Netsons’ company goals is to automate and simplify the most common operations and mechanics for everyone. To provide an easier experience for customers with limited OpenStack expertise, they integrated a customer web portal, rather than expose full OpenStack capabilities in the usual Horizon dashboard.

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Netsons Cloud Smart Panel

New cloud computing portfolio

Months after deploying their initial cloud with MOSK, Netsons launched their cloud services. Netsons is the first European cloud provider to offer flexible, high performance cloud services with fully transparent pricing, including hourly pay-per-use and monthly price caps. Because Mirantis makes operations easier with its automated platform, expert services and support, Netsons’ small technical team can regularly devote time to building revenue-generating services on top of OpenStack. They currently offer 20 flavors of basic Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) cloud offerings, including general purpose cloud computing, CPU- and RAM-intensive service plans, and a freemium to attract new customers and support community initiatives. In the future, they also plan to add specialized offerings like GPU-as-a-Service.

Thanks to MOSK, Netsons cloud services are highly resilient and scalable, so business clients can access services anytime and quickly add or remove resources as workload conditions change. Netsons also has the scalability to fulfill its own ambitions of expanding beyond Italy to the broader European market.

Netsons’ use of OpenStack has been a game-changer for the company, impressing technically-inclined customers in a market where all other vendors still use traditional virtualization from VMware. OpenStack offers many advantages over VMware, including cutting-edge open source innovation, zero vendor lock-in, and significantly lower Total Cost of Ownership (TCO).

Because MOSK uses Kubernetes as the underlay, Netsons can also potentially use it to offer Kubernetes-as-a-Service (KaaS) for self-service provisioning of virtual Kubernetes clusters. This would be especially important for government customers who need dedicated clusters to comply with GDPR and other European laws.

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“What Mirantis gives us is the ability to concentrate on building services on top of OpenStack, rather than spending all our time on operations.”

Aurelio Forese, Head of Cloud, Netsons

A step towards the future

Netsons is helping many of its web hosting customers to embrace and migrate to cloud services, so that their businesses can better support future growth and new use cases, such as AI/ML and IoT.

“For our web hosting customers, cloud computing is a step towards the future, a means to deliver greater performance and achieve new levels of success,” Forese said. “For Netsons, we see Mirantis in the same way, as a strategic partner who can help us provide higher performance and achieve greater success as we expand our cloud computing services internationally.”

Challenges

  • Increase scalability to support business expansion

  • Simplify operations so technical team can focus on building services

  • Improve flexibility to deliver the features that customers want

Solution

  • Mirantis OpenStack for Kubernetes with 24/7 enterprise support

  • Ceph software-defined storage and custom integration for billing

  • Architecture design consulting and OpenStack and Kubernetes training from Mirantis Professional Services

Results

  • Successful launch of IaaS cloud services, with scalability to support international expansion

  • Kubernetes underlay simplifies OpenStack operations, so Netsons engineers can focus on building revenue-generating services

  • Flexibility to add KaaS, GPU-as-a-Service or other offerings to meet customer demand

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