COMMUNIG8 PUTS STRAWBERRY IN CONTROL WITH ADVANCED SERVER MONITORING

“KC’s monitoring facilities only satisfied part of our brief.  We turned to Richard Gate, Managing Director of CommuniG8, who we had known for many years and had become our trusted ‘go-to’ guy for anything infrastructure, network or hardware related, and he came up with the goods."
James Greenwood, New Media Director, Strawberry

STRAWBERRY

Strawberry, established in 1993, has grown to become one of Yorkshire’s leading full service marketing and e-commerce, web design agencies.  Recently named as one of the UK’s top 100 marketing ‘powerhouses’ outside London on the RAR (Recommended Agency Register) Strawberry has built up an enviable reputation over the last decade for delivering powerful, reliable, websites to a wide variety of businesses that trade online.

 

COMMUNIG8

CommuniG8 Limited, founded by Richard Gate in 2009, specialises in infrastructure, IT related project management and technical consultancy.  With over 30 years experience of IT systems management, facilities management and hosting, CommuniG8 offers solid expertise for both open-source projects and more traditional, proprietary projects in environments ranging from Mainframe to servers to desktop.

THE BRIEF

In 2009 Strawberry launched a brand new, enterprise-level, e-commerce platform ‘Strawberry Advantage’ to fill a gap in the market for growing online retailers who wanted enterprise-level power, i.e. to process thousands of transactions per second, but without the enterprise-level price tag.  The Strawberry Advantage e-commerce solution does just that and comes with a bespoke front end so that Strawberry’s graphic designers can embrace the individual branding and messaging that is unique to each client.  In order for Strawberry to ensure adequate levels of robustness for Strawberry Advantage, they wanted to put a Server Monitoring solution in place that would keep track of their clients’ online performance around the clock.

James Greenwood, New Media Director at Strawberry explained, “The Strawberry Advantage team comes from a background of delivering large-scale IT projects for a broad range of household names – such as IKEA, JJB Sport and Powerhouse Retail.   We understand the seriousness of uptime and responsiveness.  If a brochure site goes down, it’s embarrassing.  If an e-commerce site goes down it is serious – it’s the equivalent of nailing the shop door shut.”

As the popularity of Strawberry Advantage grew, with 14 new e-commerce sites coming on line in the first 12 months, Strawberry wanted to have the added confidence that the platform would remain powerful enough for the job, particularly during the busiest times such as the run up to Christmas.  They wanted more visibility and more information so they could be assured that their clients’ sites were at optimum performance at all times.  This was especially important to them as they anticipated other challenging times such as when experiencing extreme, adverse weather conditions, which affect the smooth running of the supply chain, causing many extra online customer service enquiries.

James Greenwood, New Media Director at Strawberry said, “We have always found the KC, team to be totally on the ball and highly responsive when a problem does occur, but with the success of Strawberry Advantage we had progressed and had reached a point where we wanted to pre-empt problems.  We approached KC, who rent space to us across 5 servers where we host many of our e-commerce sites for clients.  However, their monitoring facilities only satisfied part of our brief.”

KC take care of the health of the server, it’s CPU, it’s hard disk – in terms of making sure it has electricity, it is available to the internet etc.  However, Strawberry wanted to go beyond that.  They need to know their sites are up and performing effectively, and if not why not.   They also need to know the software integrated to their e-commerce sites is working as it should be in harmony with the site.  Most importantly, they need to know about any problems before their clients do.

James Greenwood continued, “We turned to Richard Gate, Managing Director of CommuniG8, who we had known for many years and had become our trusted ‘go-to’ guy for anything infrastructure, network or hardware related and he came up with the goods.”

Richard Gate is highly regarded by many for his work with open-source technology.  Zabbix is an enterprise-class, open-source, distributed monitoring solution that he has implemented for a number of his clients during the last 12 months.  Richard expertly tailored Zabbix to meet Strawberry’s needs providing advanced monitoring covering the 5 KC servers.  As part of this solution for Strawberry, CommuniG8 also provides a robust alerting service and functionality that provides an on-screen map showing all sites hosted across the 5 KC servers, showing:

  • CPU Utilisation
  • RAM Utilisation
  • Disk Space Utilisation
  • Alerts for Failures
  • Alerts for thresholds exceeded
  • Historical data
  • Uptime
  • Response Times
  • Ping Time
  • Plus lots more

Richard Gate, Managing Director of CommuniG8 said, “You can’t manage what you can’t measure.  The online world is dynamic.  A tiny software change made innocently to one small area of a retail system can affect the entire e-commerce set up and even bring it down temporarily.  That’s why it is so important to have comprehensive monitoring 24/7. “

OUTCOME

Strawberry has a secure login to CommuniG8 where they can see all of their websites across all of their KC servers.  There is a lot of information they can interrogate from live up-to-the-second data to historic data on uptime, response times and site traffic.  All of this is displayed visually as network map and is very easy to understand.

James Greenwood concluded, “I can look at any time frame - the last hour, the last week, the last six weeks for any of our client sites.  Also the system checks uptime every 2 minutes.  If a site goes down, or reaches a threshold we have set, I get an email or an SMS text message alerting me.  This is extremely important to us.  If there is a problem, we want to be the first to know about it, so that we can quickly investigate and put it right for our client before they even notice.  Information =  control and that’s what we get from CommuniG8.  We simply pay Richard a competitive monthly fee and he provides us with comprehensive information about the status and performance of our e-commerce sites.  We now have a much heightened level of control than was ever possible before.”