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SYSELEVEN ADOPTS NGINX PLUS TO ENHANCE AND EXPAND ITS CUSTOMER SERVICES

NGINX Plus Boosts Performance and Supports New Services for SysEleven's Cloud-Hosted Customers
Overview

SysEleven is a managed hosting and internet service provider.

Challenge

To maximize uptime while maintaining a flexible, configurable, and adaptable service providing the best possible hosting package to each customer.

Results

Downtime Eliminated with High Availability

Secured lock with check mark icon

Enhanced Performance and Improved Security

Potential to Expand the Product Line into Load-Balancing-as-a-Service and WAF-as-a-Service

Overview

SysEleven provides premium cloud services to some of Germany’s largest companies whom stability, reliability, security and performance are critical. Using a virtualized, cloud‑based environment, it offers a responsive service with emphasis on security and reliability. Whether it’s the complete managed hosting platform, Kubernetes-as-a-Service (KaaS), Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), or the Internet access package, SysEleven’s customers are offered personal support and premium quality. SysEleven’s core platform is a managed hosting infrastructure based on Virtuozzo containers. SysEleven maintains around 3,000 virtual environments for its customers.

Challenge

As a hosting partner and managed service provider certified by the German Federal Office for Information Security – Germany’s equivalent to the US’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) – reliability and responsiveness are key. Not only SysEleven’s success, but the success of its customers, depends on its ability to provide a versatile and robust hosting service.

SysEleven’s customers rely on new setups going live quickly and efficiently, with responsive tuning, debugging, and maintenance. Customers need to know they can rely on the stability of the services, as well as flexible support and fine‑tuning from the SysEleven team. In turn, SysEleven provides a unique, isolated setup with a dedicated load balancer to each customer. This is possible only because the SysEleven solution is powerful and scalable.

Even before the release of NGINX Plus, SysEleven had been using the open source NGINX platform for as long as it has been available. With this foundation, its services have grown from strength to strength. As well as the primary product, a Virtuozzo‑based fully managed platform, SysEleven also offers OpenStack IaaS, a KaaS platform called MetaKube, and high‑bandwidth Internet access for households, offices, and data centers.

SysEleven’s greatest challenge comes with traffic peaks. Its cloud hosting environments need to be sufficiently robust and flexible to cope with spikes in Internet traffic, which place increased stress on the infrastructure. One common type of spike occurs when there’s a surge of visitors to a SysEleven customer’s site, prompted by a TV or newsletter advertisement run by the customer. If service suffers during these spikes, the SysEleven customer risks losing sales or damaging its reputation.

The load‑balancing gateways are the first point of contact for incoming traffic, and therefore one of the most crucial parts of the cloud infrastructure. SysEleven supports customer installations of up to 300 virtual hosts and needs to be able to scale and adapt to maintain the highest standard of speed and reliability. Meanwhile, service interruption must be kept to the absolute minimum. Such a difficult balancing act demands a stable and flexible solution

Solution

SysEleven is a long‑term user of NGINX Open Source. It has been a component in various services and products offered by SysEleven, for example as a Kubernetes Ingress controller in the hosting platform as well as MetaKube. NGINX also serves as the load balancer in the majority of the virtual environments in SysEleven’s main product.

The SysEleven team was ready to consider NGINX Plus as soon as it was released because of the long‑standing successful relationship with NGINX. The key question was whether the additional features offered in NGINX Plus were worth the cost. For a company with high‑quality, stable, and secure service as its bedrock, the decision to implement the advanced features in NGINX Plus was a clear one.

The additional features of NGINX Plus give SysEleven more to offer its customers, and more control over incoming requests to the cloud environment. “We need solid server daemons to guarantee site reliability to our customers,” says Roland Gutsch, SysEleven Systems Engineer. “NGINX and NGINX Plus are very stable and fail next to never. Furthermore, we need the possibility to scale up and out easily. NGINX and NGINX Plus allow us to do so easily”.

SysEleven is always looking for opportunities to offer a better service or provide its customers with more choice. With the release of NGINX Plus, new opportunities to enhance the cloud environment and the hosting platform began to present themselves.

Dynamic upstream configuration, cache purging, and active health checks give SysEleven an easy and effective way to offer more to its customers. A powerful customer dashboard provides more choice for those who want to configure their own setups, making SysEleven’s offer that much more flexible. Although SysEleven still uses NGINX Open Source in some existing customer installations, it recommends NGINX Plus for almost every new setup.

Results

NGINX and especially NGINX Plus provide a solution for every use case we have had so far.
– Dimitri Henning, Linux Systems Engineer, SysEleven
Downtime Eliminated with High Availability

At the 2018 NGINX annual conference, SysEleven software engineers demonstrated dynamic upgrades with NGINX Plus. Using a working replica of the support environment, Roland Gutsch and Dimitri Henning set up a single‑pod cloud environment and then upgraded it to a multi‑pod setup. The entire process involved just a few commands and took under one minute to complete.

For many of SysEleven’s customers, high availability is crucial to their success. For any growing company, a certain amount of downtime is an unfortunate inevitability as needs grow and larger setups need to be configured. However, thanks to NGINX Plus, SysEleven can scale its customers’ setups without any downtime or need to reboot the server daemons. Customers can use the API for testing and deployment without a second of downtime, and can trust their hosting environment to stay live under heavy traffic.

Enhanced Performance and Improved Security

As well as giving SysEleven a more versatile feature set to offer its clients, NGINX Plus’ caching features provide a powerful, raw performance boost. The entry point to the cloud environment gives an easy but efficient way to achieve higher page‑loading speeds for the end user. “It’s so amazing – we can witness an increase of speed in an amount of four seconds when loading a webpage,” said Gutsch, in SysEleven’s NGINX Conference breakout session.

SysEleven already offered the highest standard of security, and NGINX Plus extends this. More sophisticated setups demand more sophisticated security. With NGINX Plus’ web application firewall (WAF), custom rule sets can be applied to each customer’s application stack, enabling SysEleven to offer peace of mind for even the most complex installations

Potential to expand the product line into Load-Balancing-as-a-Service and WAF-as-a-Service

Thanks to NGINX Plus, SysEleven is making plans to add WAF services to its lineup of products. SysEleven is also considering plans to offer pure Load-Balancing-as-a-Service, enabling it to fine‑tune what it can offer for each client’s needs. NGINX Plus has integrated smoothly with other components in use by the team, which makes SysEleven confident that it can expand and broaden its horizons with no obstacles.

About SysEleven

Based in Berlin, SysEleven is one of Germany’s foremost Managed Service Providers (MSPs). For 11 years it has grown its brand and is certified by Germany’s Federal Office for Information Security. Its team of approximately 110 employees caters to around 400 customers, including some of Germany’s biggest online shops. SysEleven’s fully virtualized, resilient hosting platform offers more than just server capacity. Using a broad, adaptive approach, SysEleven analyzes its customers’ application settings, finding the best solution for performance, profitability, and stability. For more information, visit www.syseleven.de or www.syseleven.io for the English‑language website.

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