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December 2019

Aster chooses an Azure Stack HCI solution from Microsoft and DataOn: "Reliability greatly improved."

Aster ‘Optimize your enterprise’

Dutch IT specialist Aster has a lovely motto: "Optimize your enterprise". With solutions in the field of system management, infrastructure, cloud and security, Aster challenges organizations to constantly strive for improvement.

Thanks to XCES and DataOn, we can assure customers of maximum uptime and continuity – a crucial component in achieving our strategy: optimizing their business operations.
– Stefan de Vries, CTO at Aster

Quote Frie Skolers

Optimization for a better customer experience

The old servers were depreciated, making back-ups was slow and the maximum capacity had been reached a while ago. Plenty of reason for Aster to opt for a new, future-proof infrastructure. The fact that backing up lasted the whole day was not the biggest problem. It became problematic when customers started to notice the inconvenience. “Customers who worked at night noticed that the servers were busy. The speed of the systems went down,”says Mark Ackema, ICT trainer and product developer at Aster.

This came as no surprise to Aster. The company was already looking for new hardware for the data centers. But the complaints reiterated why change was necessary. The old servers were no longer adequate, they had been depreciated and the maximum capacity had been reached.

Azure Stack HCI solution from Microsoft and DataOn

For modernization, Aster preferred Azure Stack HCI, Microsoft’s state-of-the-art data center solution. Aster worked with its predecessor and Azure Stack HCI had impressive test results. Despite the good reports, diligence was very important. Ackema: “The processes of all our customers depend on the servers on which we host them. We have to make sure that their continuity is not compromised and that the performance is improved. The risks are enormous, a lot depends on it.”

For the delivery of the DataOn servers, on which Azure Stack HCI can run, Aster consulted with XCES. “XCES delivers a complete Microsoft-validated DataON solution,”, Stefan de Vries, CTO of Aster, substantiates the choice to work with XCES. “With other parties, you get a bag of Legos and have to figure it all out by yourself."

De Vries was convinced after talking to representatives of XCES at the Aster office. “We had some very good talks. I feel like XCES understands us and is taking it very seriously. For example, it’s not a problem to have spare hardware stored in our office that's not ours. This allows us to respond quickly in the event of an emergency”.

The installation by XCES

The installation was carried out by XCES in collaboration with Microsoft MVP, Darryl van der Peijl. After the installation it was tested extensively to ensure that the cluster would be delivered in optimum condition. Frank Verheggen says: “The collaboration with XCES was very pleasant and professional. Due to the installation, the extensive testing and the instructions that resulted from this, going live was a piece of cake.” The migration of the cluster has produced excellent results. For example, the uploading time of the SyncForce platform has decreased significantly and the start-up time of the application pool has been reduced from 4 minutes to 1.

Crucial conditions, continuous availability

Aster chose 8 physical servers, 200 virtual servers and 120 disks with a total of 240 terabytes of raw storage and 4 terabytes of RAM. Everything was taken care of in less than two months. “When the hardware arrived, it was up and running within two weeks, with minimal effort on our part; everything was taken care of by XCES,” says Ackema. “Because the XCES engineers worked on-site, the collaboration was productive. There was a lot of exchange of information. The tests prior to the migration also gave us confidence. In an emergency test, we literally pulled the plug and the systems kept running. This ensured the continuous availability of the solution.” 

De Vries: “Thanks to DataOn’s Azure Stack HCI solution, we can offer our customers greater stability and better performance. We hear fewer complaints and the uptime has increased. Moreover, customers no longer notice the back-ups. This used to take hours and occasionally went wrong. Now, it’s done in 10 minutes and the reliability has improved significantly. Customers no longer experience any inconvenience from our back-ups.”

Thanks to XCES and DataOn, we can assure customers of maximum uptime and continuity – a crucial component in achieving our strategy: optimizing their business operations.