The Preferred Hotel Group is the technology, sales and marketing backbone for more than 700 of the poshest independent hotels and resorts in 65 countries - specific services include group, corporate and leisure sales, integrated marketing, global connectivity and reservations, electronic distribution services, and tech-based guest services.
The clientele who frequent these hotels expect impeccably smooth services. So when the Preferred Hotels IT team migrated its entire pool of servers from a collocated data center in Chicago, where the company is headquartered, to Terremark's Enterprise Cloud over the Christmas holidays in 2008, everything had to go off without a hitch.
And it did.
"From the end user's point of view, there was no change in service. It was seamless," says Jonathan Newbury, vice president of ecommerce and technology at Preferred Hotel Group. Newbury was the company's vice president of brand development at the time of the migration.
Charles Zieres, director of Information Technology Development, who managed the company's leap into the cloud had overseen the months of planning and testing prior to the move. He describes the process as "just like transitioning to a new collocation facility, only without the moving vans."
Preferred Hotels initially migrated 25 servers into Terremark's Enterprise Cloud including its Citrix, SQL, and Exchange servers, which were supporting its online reservations system, back office applications and disaster recovery protocols. The company has since continued to ramp up its cloud presence and is now running the equivalent of more than 50 servers in Terremark's Enterprise Cloud.
The initial attraction
According to Gartner vice president of research Lydia Leong, Terremark's Enterprise Cloud is very focused on self-service virtual data center needs, has a broad range of features and boasts one of the longest track records in the enterprise-class public cloud infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) market.
Terremark has a bunch of cloud offerings. Terremark Enterprise Cloud is the in top five market share leaders in the category of VMware-based public IaaS. Then there's Terremark Computing as a Service, which focuses on hybrid cloud deployments. Terremark's vCloud Express is based on Enterprise Cloud and is a pay by the VM offering, but does not guarantee resource allocations.
With Terremark's Enterprise Cloud, services are sold in blocks of computing capacity, and billed by processor megahertz, with allowances for RAM and storage. And that flexibility was an initial big draw for Preferred Hotels.
Compared to other public cloud offerings that only let you spin up standard VM instances, this model is more in line with how Preferred Hotels prefers to run its operations. "We don't have one type of machine that gets fired up for every application. Some need four processors some need 16. Some have tiny footprints like our SVN server, while other like our reporting servers have massive requirements," says Zieres.
The management software that helps customers drive their cloud implementations is called DigitalOps. It allows Enterprise Cloud customers to control virtual machines in Terremark's data center through a portal, much as they might manage physical servers in their own.
Newbury says having Terremark handle the hassles of the physical servers — and assume the capital costs of doing so — means his IT team is freed up to take on more strategic projects. "We've now more than doubled our infrastructure and our storage capacity in the cloud, but we've not had to increase staff to support that huge growth.''