Sandstone has switched to a pure cloud services delivery model, enabling a 10-fold increase in end users supported through its online team building sessions by ditching its hosting provider.
In order to reduce costs and quickly scale its operations to meet increased interest in the online business it began three years ago, Sandstone sought an alternative to the virtual dedicated server (VDS) supplied by its previous hosting provider.
The change in business requirements convinced Sandstone to adopt a full cloud model to deliver web-based team building sessions to organisations with large remote or disparate workforces, in addition to the software it provides for on-premises projects.
Alan Hunt, Sandstone's managing director, said that the number of end users the company could support had been limited in the past due to the inflexibility of its previous hosting agreement, both in terms of capacity and cost.
"As we added to the portfolio of activities and we started to get ever-larger groups interested in our activities, that is where it became a bit more of a challenge," he said.
Hunt added that the traditional hosting service was scalable, but that the provider's terms lacked the flexibility required to meet the demands of new clients.
"It was quite expensive for us because the minimum time we could have a larger VDS available for us was a month," he said. "We might only need it for a day."
These limitations meant that delivering services to even relatively small numbers of end users could be problematic, with 120 online users the most to be supported by its hosting provider at one time.
"We couldn't configure beyond a certain amount of processing or a certain amount of memory," Hunt said. "It was quite an issue for us, and that was just for 120 people. It started to become quite restrictive."
In order to increase the number of end users that could be supported at short notice, Sandstone chose to employ cloud hosting services from UK based cloud company ElasticHosts. Hunt said that the flexibility and scalability of a cloud service enabled the relatively small workforce of Sandstone to fulfill a contract for 1,200 customers across North and South America, using the cloud provider's Texas data centre to reduce latency.
"From a technological point of view, our challenge was that our largest event previously was for 120 people, so this was literally 10 times the size," Hunt explained.
Sandstone tested out its software applications in advance of the event to get a clear idea of the amount of memory and CPU capacity needed to run the session. This also involved ensuring that the cloud host's technology would work with its own applications. The test allowed various benchmarks to be run in preparation for the substantial spike in usage that had not been previously experienced previously by the company.
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