Tailor made managed hosting by Combell – from request to transfer
“If it’s not broken, don’t fix it.” A good old IT adage that still holds true today. Organisations indeed often reach the limits of their IT infrastructure first before they are willing to change. Nonetheless, the risks of a transfer are predictable and, given proper preparation, also completely avoidable. Each year, Combell Migration Teams carry out a couple of thousand technical migrations. They have extensive experience and follow proven procedures. Your transfer to Combell is therefore a memorable but not actually a particularly tense moment. What exactly can you expect of the traject to our tailor made hosting?
Welcome on board
Although the services and support at Combell are well standardised, each ‘on-boarding’ is that little bit different. Are you opting for a standard hosting package with a simple migration? Do you want to manage a lot of things yourself? Is it going to be a fully tailored infrastructure? Each customer’s requirement is somewhat different.
Typically, customisation will start with an intake meeting attended by technical personnel and the business. What applications are involved? Is it self-written software or a popular package? For how many users? What developments are you expecting?
The initial costs for setup and infrastructure are as low as possible thanks to our tailored advice.
Combell charts expectations and the existing state of affairs by means of focused questions. As well as a commercially-oriented staff member, there is always a Cloud architect present, so that as a forthcoming customer you get a detailed offer immediately with a technical master plan. Combell provides an appropriate proposal and technology choice in accordance with the requirements and the budget. The initial costs for setup and infrastructure are as low as possible thanks to our tailored advice, while still ensuring that your technical starting point does not limit your future growth.
Stability, security and performance are the three basic cornerstones of the Combell service provision. With a standard hosting package, you will of course benefit from high-quality hardware and all the accompanying systems for cooling and continuous power supply. Or do you want more guarantees to avoid any downtime even during an unexpected breakdown? Then, there are several ways in which to guarantee ‘high availability’, each with its own price tag. We help our customers to make the right choice from these.
Combell always looks at the mutual interest, over the longer term.
Your website or application also needs to be able to grow along with your business. Are you involved in social media, ticket sales or e-commerce? Then, you must be able to scale up very quickly. Does it always help to throw more hardware at the problem? Combell often helps by reducing the ‘impact’ of your software first, seeking out and optimising the bottlenecks, or by applying caching. We only throw more hardware at the problem when there is no other option. It might seem easier to simply buy more hardware. But Combell always looks at the mutual interest, over the longer term.
If the customer’s current situation is quite complex, Combell will opt for a technical workshop, which first brings together the right people. Together, specialists will analyse how you can achieve optimal performance by introducing load balancing and caching. In some cases, Combell will put forward an alternative approach by suggesting changes to your own website or application. This may require extra investment in software development but will ensure better stability in structural terms.
There used to be a gap between infrastructure management and development. But Combell has plugged this gap completely. Your developers who built your website or application are the best ones to help choose the underlying technology so as to get the best possible performance. That is why Combell’s infrastructure specialists also speak their language, development language.
Application team & intelligent load tests
In the run-up to migration, the future collaboration will be prepared in detail. What is the best solution for setting up continuous integration/continuous deployment for you? What is the maximum number of visitors the chosen solution can cope with? Do the pages load quickly enough? Is everything sufficiently performant? If necessary, Combell can propose a multi-disciplinary approach for optimisation or an action plan.
Optionally, there are intelligent load tests for self-written applications. Combell will then set up scenarios that simulate actual user behaviour. In this way, we perform a simulation exercise which will provide a fairly precise estimation of the maximum capacity. In some cases, this may lead to disappointment – if your application demands more computing power, memory or storage capacity than anticipated. We will then work together with application performance monitoring tools like NewRelic to find where the problem is: architecture error, bottleneck… Depending on the problem, Combell will then recommend investing in code optimisation, caching or extra hardware.
Optimisation by a multi-disciplinary application team can be organized before or after the initial migration. It often involves just a one-off intervention. But it can also involve an action plan in which we assist you in implementing good practices and a different choice of platform. Everything that delivers more stability is ultimately good for both parties. Combell has a wide range of experts available – database, development, architecture, system engineers… Throwing more servers at the problem is never the best solution.
Kick-off and migration
Combell engineers will get to know your technical contact people in a kick-off meeting. They will note down all the practical details. What are the expectations of both parties? What are the requirements for monitoring? Which pages can we best retrieve for a health check? As the customer, you always know most about the application and its underlying components.
What often scares customers is the migration, the big transfer operation. At Combell, this is a standard part of the service that can often be achieved with little or no downtime. The responsibility lies mainly with Combell. A temporary chat group will be created together with your technical people to ensure very short lines of communication.
Your transfer to Combell is a memorable but not actually a particularly tense moment.
In the end, the migration is just the implementation of what has been discussed. A successful migration is the result of a good, detailed kick-off meeting. You will feel that the tensest part of the process is actually the simplest. Are there any pitfalls lying in wait somewhere? These can usually be resolved quickly and easily.
SLAs with cast-iron guarantees
After your successful migration, it is our job to make sure that what is online remains available online at all times. Combell always has the necessary knowledge, procedures, personnel and hardware available. This means we can respond rapidly when something still manages unexpectedly to go wrong. Depending on your situation and the required response time, we provide clear guarantees in the form of a service level agreement. In a certain sense, we cover the unforeseeable, in accordance with your requirements and budget.
Is the performance of your application going backwards? Are too many human errors occurring? Then, we will address this, even if it relates to the interface between infrastructure and the application layer. What are your plans for the future? What is the trajectory for growth? As well the infrastructure administrator, Combell is also your adviser and IT partner with a lot of attention to human contact.
Even better than just a satisfied customer is a customer who stays satisfied. Combell constantly works towards this by proactively looking for potential improvements. Which things are ‘a thorn in the side’ for you? Which issues are not urgent or dramatic but call for a better solution in due course? In some cases, a quick fix or workaround from the past is a handicap for the future. We call this technical debt.
Happiness coaches will assist you in ensuring that these kinds of issues are also resolved. They are fully independent within the Combell organisation. They do not have any kind of commercial role. They analyse where things sometimes go wrong and do not hesitate to expose flaws in your organisation. This means that the Combell technicians who are on-call day and night remain able to respond in an optimal way when it is really necessary.
The happiness coaches are working for the long term. They help you through your growing pains. As the permanent intermediary link between your employees and Combell’s technical organisation, they take care of the service management and deal with any complaints.
For each transition to Combell, there is a careful preparation and follow-up process. There is no room for improvisation in actual fact. At first, your technical specialists really get to know well their contact people at Combell. Together, they document the technical choices in advance. Fluent communication and strict controls make technical migration a routine matter. After the transition, there will be continuous follow-up. In this way, we dot the i’s and cross the t’s, and each migration is the beginning of a long and pleasant collaboration.