“Employees lean on data. 24/7 Availability of data and accessibility of applications are essential.” (Jan Treep)
Raet (approx. 1200 employees) is founder of HR cloud software and has grown to a key player in the HR sector and the benefit disbursement sector of the Dutch market. Raet serves 10,000 customers in the Netherlands. On a daily basis, 1.7 million employees make use of the software, monthly they process 1.3 million payments. Raet delivers her services also in 14 other countries, including Argentina, Spain and Belgium.
Jan Treep, Manager Cloud Operations is responsible for Raet Youforce Cloud platform (including 24/7 application availability) and all offshored IT activities. Customers trust that applications and data are available 24/7 and perform 100%. With his team, Jan has continuously ensured that Raet meets the high demands of her customers.
Development to e-HRM
The development towards e-HRM does not only entail that HR employees work with the applications, also management and employees are in control. An employee being abroad enters declarations on the spot. This person forwards it to a workflow before it goes to the administration. Supervisors update the talent management of employees in e-HRM. Every month a usage peak occurs around the salaries payment date. This peak is even higher in holiday pay month May. More often than on average employees check their salary details. This asks for flexibility of the underlying infrastructure.
Twin datacentre replicates data and guarantees high performance
Related to the growing amount of data, more intensive use of applications, and with respect to business continuity, it was decided in 2012 to create a twin datacentre. The second (B) datacentre should be an exact copy of the first (A) datacentre. All data in datacentre A had to be replicated to datacentre B.
Raet selected KPN on the basis of datacentre space for the 2nd location and strong migration services. At that time, KPN was already provider of the co-location of the existing systems. At KPN, Raet has the choice of different storage classes with specific performance and availability. KPN uses IBM SAN Volume Controller (SVC) at large scale for storage virtualisation, which forms a layer between the application servers / hypervisors and the storage systems.
The data of Raet had to be migrated from to the new systems in the datacenter of KPN. Without a virtual storage layer this is complex, and migration is accompanied with much downtime and customer impact. It requires much planning and alignment with the business and outside of office hours.
SVC makes data migration easier and less risky. SVC is placed between the server systems and the storage of the Raet systems. This is the only moment of downtime and it is very brief. After that, the systems of Raet can continue working. The SVC layer handles the normal I/O traffic between servers and storage, while the data is transferred to new systems within KPN. The user does not notice anything. When all data is transferred, tests can be executed to check if everything works, while the old situation continues. At each moment, the decision can be made to switch to working on the new systems (with barely any impact on the user). Afterwards, the old systems can be shut down and discharged.
As SVC attributes the data to the rightful class, Raet was migrated to multiple storage tiers. After transferring the production, the highest tiers appeared to provide insufficient performance. KPN directly introduced a new class with a higher performance level. A part of the data of Raet was migrated again to this new class, without any impact to its users.
“Without the use of SVC, Raet would have experienced a substantially longer and more complex migration process accompanied by much downtime. This would have included much adjustment with users. Using SVC, this is not necessary. After all, users do not notice anything. In the current use, we can switch between data classes, change old storage, add new storage without impacting performance or downtime for users.”
On the picture: John Hoogenboom