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New data center in 30 hours

Contracting authority needs short-term resources for urgent online application procedure

Digital solutions to combat the recession

All over the world, economies are suffering the effects of the corona pandemic. At the end of March 2020, the ifo Institute calculated that the costs for Germany could amount to more than EUR 700 billion. Production stoppages and short-time work will cause the gross domestic product to collapse by between 7.2 and 14 percentage points during the course of a 2-month shutdown. One million jobs are at risk due to the economic collapse.

Enable rapid disbursement of subsidies

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The public sector has responded to these effects with comprehensive aid programs at federal and state level. These include emergency aid, liquidity assistance, guarantees, and tax relief. Many small and medium-sized enterprises are dependent on rapid payment of subsidies. To achieve this, new, short routes must be created to speed up application and payment.

At a glance: 

  • Pandemic creates massive recession in Germany
  • Rapid operational implementation of subsidy programs
  • Digital solution for application and payment
  • Provision of a scalable, reliable cloud platform at short notice

The challenge

Following the remarkably rapid response of the public sector to the current crisis, it was important to implement the subsidy programs just as quickly, because the administration offices wanted to provide the companies with simple access to the subsidies. The target date for providing the digital solution was March 30. Important to know: to apply for funding, companies need to upload documents to the platform, which can be up to 30 MB in size. It is therefore essential that the web service has a high-performance internet connection.

However, during the final load tests by the developers – on the weekend before the go-live – it became apparent that the planned local operating platform would not be able to withstand the expected rush. A scalable solution for the reliable operation of the service had to be found in record time, which would enable the existing data center capacities to be expanded to meet the expected, extreme requirements.

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The solution

A server room with a virtual connection network, a blue light at the end of the corridor.

It was obvious that only a public cloud operating platform could meet the requirements for scalability and deployment at short notice. Together with T-Systems as a multi-cloud provider, those responsible on the customer side investigated the existing possibilities. However, many of the cloud solutions that came into question were ruled out due to insufficient performance or lack of internet bandwidth. Ultimately, the decision was made in favor of the VMware Cloud on AWS. With VMware, T-Systems was able to deliver the appropriate technology stack, optimally suited to the application and the in-house platform. Besides, the underlying AWS infrastructure guarantees data residency in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, and enables a reliable and highly available internet breakout to ensure that all requests, even on peak demands, are served.

Within three hours, T-Systems set up a software-defined data center (SDDC) with three hosts, offering a complete VMware stack with computing, storage, and network resources. The SDDC uses bare metal servers at AWS, which are available exclusively for the customer. T-Systems operates the platform as a managed service.

A further four hours later, on Saturday evening, the customer had full administration rights on the combined operating platform, i.e. a connection to the internal server backend in the customer's data center had also been set up. The first servers on the VMware Cloud on AWS were activated and access to the front-end systems via the internet was established. The combined platform was up and running on Sunday morning. The final configuration adjustments to optimize the system were then implemented.

Benefits for the customer

From the idea to a fully functional, external expansion of the in-house data center in less than 30 hours - “co-creation” was therefore required here. With VMware Cloud on AWS from T-Systems, the contracting authority was able to solve a nearly impossible problem at short notice. Although the urgently needed online application procedure for emergency aid was still unavailable at the weekend, by Monday it was online and available to assist those seeking help – without the risk of the operating platform collapsing under the heavy load due to the high number of requests. The importance of the scaling solution from the cloud is demonstrated by the visitor numbers: While the load tests were designed for 500 simultaneous users, on Monday 7,000 users attempted to use the service at the same time. In the following period, the number of users rose into the five-digit range – and the trend is still rising.

The external resources of the VMware Cloud on AWS impressed the customer: they receive a performance gain of 400 percent for their web service. Resources can be scaled at any time to meet additional requirements. In doing so, the customer only has to pay for the resources that it actually uses. When the subsidy programs are discontinued, the entire installation can be returned. With T-Systems as a partner, comprehensive technical security and data protection conformity of the web service are also ensured. Beneficiaries include companies that require emergency aid from the public sector. Thanks to the IT landscape, they can now quickly obtain urgently needed financial resources.

The positive experience with the cloud will also have long-term implications for the customer. They have now gained first-hand experience with the cloud, which has given them more than theoretical discussions could ever have offered. The performance and power of the public cloud is extremely convincing: decision-makers are now discussing additional application scenarios for the future, in which the cloud can show its strengths.

The benefits:

  • Provision of infrastructure resources at extremely short notice through a software-defined data center (SDDC)
  • Securing the start of production
  • Wide range of possible solutions
  • High security level
  • Network capacities included
  • New options for the IT strategy in the future

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