Case study

Cobweb

In a relatively short period of time, cloud technologies have overtaken the landscape of IT. Gartner recently announced that cloud will be the ‘default option’ for software deployment in the next five years, predicting that 30% of the 100 largest software vendors will adopt a cloud-only model by 2020. While some organizations are a bit late in reacting to cloud’s dominance, Cobweb Solutions has been a cloud company since “the cloud” began. As a cloud services specialist and the largest hosted Exchange provider in Europe, Cobweb’s solutions remove the restrictions of on premise IT and offer the highest quality communication tools, both affordably and maintenance-free. 

Hosting over 150,000 mailboxes Cobweb needs to have full visibility of their IT environment in order to achieve maximum efficiency. Opsview has played an important role by offering full insights on Cobweb’s wide-ranging infrastructure, empowering them to help customers grow into flexible, agile organizations that can consistently take advantage of cloud technology capabilities. 

Background 

A member of the Cloud Industry Forum and a Gold Microsoft Partner, Cobweb was the first provider to deliver a customer through the Microsoft Cloud Solution Provider program. This history has passed the test of time with Cobweb offering a full suite of Microsoft services including Exchange, Lync, and Office along with several other hosting solutions. With Cobweb’s centralized platforms being hosted in Tier 3+ data centers, a wide range of IT services are delivered on a daily basis. From a network perspective, Cobweb utilizes a mixture of vendors (such as Cisco, CheckPoint, Forcepoint, Brocade and Vyatta) for their specific points of expertise. Knowing what is occurring in these separate environments is key in maintaining the overall health of the infrastructure. A reliable monitoring solution is critical to Cobweb’s operations because it alerts them to issues that must be addressed, ensuring customers can access their mailboxes at any time of the day. 

The Challenge 

Before Opsview, Cobweb was relatively void of any substantial monitoring solutions. Their previous network management tool had a poor set-up and was unintuitive, which proved to be quite the challenge for Bailey Scott (Network Engineer) when he first started working at Cobweb, “I was new to the network that supported our platforms and virtually had no visibility of what was happening on the network. When something went wrong, it took a long time to diagnose where the issue was. This was unacceptable.” 

The saving grace for Cobweb was the fact they had an engineer who had been there for years and knew exactly where to look to find problems. However, relying on one person was simply not sustainable in the long-term and the lack of a powerful monitoring tool made it impossible to see where capacity issues were or even to plan capacity for their growing environment. 

Why Opsview Worked as a Solution and Implementation

Cobweb researched various products during their monitoring search, but many were just too expensive. Because of Opsview’s economic price point, Cobweb choose to evaluate Opsview’s product offering and determine that it was the right choice to improve their monitoring efforts. “I loved the ability of Opsview. It could handle a range of checks from the simplest (ping/SNMP poll) to more complex customized Perl scripts. It was critical to have the level of detail we needed to see everything in one place. Opsview gave us all of that and more!” 

By gathering a wide variety of data and displaying it in a consistent fashion, Opsview has enabled Cobweb’s IT team to identify issues early and resolve them before customers notice anything. Here are a few of the specific benefits Cobweb has experienced by implementing Opsview: 


•    The ability to look at comprehensive, easy-to-read dashboards that evaluate different aspects of Cobweb’s environment. The server team have also set up a dashboard for monitoring for their storage platform. 
•    Despite the server team (primarily Microsoft) using SCOM for the server infrastructure they decided to set up their own Opsview dashboard which monitors their SAN Arrays, SAN Switches, Blade Chassis and ESXi Hosts.
•    Cobweb uses the Opsview API to setup monitoring when they deploy network devices into the IBM Softlayer Cloud. The automated experience saves time and allows Cobweb to keep costs down. 
•    Other features Cobweb benefits from include Opsview’s Event Viewer (which utilizes SNMP Traps), scalability pack, RANCID tool and netaudit.

The Cobweb network team strives to achieve 99.999% availability. Working with Opsview has allowed Cobweb to achieve this goal because they can quickly plan and respond to unforeseen circumstances that happen when you least expect it, “Some monitoring products try to be more clever than they should. Opsview has a strong level of intelligence, but also allows the administrator to utilize their own unique knowledge and act in the best interest of that particular environment,” said Scott. 

Three years ago, Cobweb bought Opsview to manage 50 hosts and now they are on the verge of moving to 200 hosts! Opsview looks forward to providing the monitoring behind Cobweb’s world-class infrastructure and helping them achieve continuous growth as Europe’s leading cloud communications provider.