Scalability, agility & price-performance ratio convinced this top DAM company to deploy its entire infrastructure with CloudSigma

Customer Profile

Since 2000 Picturepark operates various digital asset management and content management solutions. Picturepark solutions offer private shared libraries of professional photos, films, graphics, documents and other media. Search, preview, download and sharing works perfectly across all devices, from Android, iOS, Windows phone and other mobile operating systems to desktop computers. The company manages vital content for scores of companies including well-known brands such as Siemens, E.ON, Milus and Burberry.

Customers can run the solutions on their servers or from the Picturepark Cloud – the longest operating commercial DAM Cloud in the world. The number one reason organizations choose Picturepark is the software’s unique Adaptive Metadata layers. Picturepark is known for its educational materials and community initiatives, which include DAM Guru Program, the largest global community of DAM professionals.

Fast “anywhere” access to digital content is what today’s mobile employees and company clients demand. With Picturepark’s customers storing an ever-increasing amount of data, the company was faced with a dilemma. In order to meet this growth in demand, they could either buy more physical machines and devote additional time and effort to their maintenance, or turn to the cloud and outsource their infrastructure requirements. This is how they found CloudSigma.

“Cloudsigma offered everything we needed to deploy our infrastructure 1:1 to the cloud without a single change to the Picturepark application.”Nick Berthet, CTO @ Picturepark

The Challenge

Picturepark DAM product utilises a clustered SQL server environment that requires high disk IOPS and network throughput as well as superior CPU and RAM performance. SQL Server’s per core licensing model creates a strong additional incentive to reduce the number of cores needed for a specific workload. Having a superior per core performance allows less cores to be licensed and a significant licensing cost saving. For these reasons Picturepark needed a cloud provider that could achieve a high performance level as good as or better than their existing in-house infrastructure.

“We created a matrix to compare everything like pricing, IOPS, how storage is mounted, how much storage you can attach to one VM, scalability, the overall performance of the infrastructure and the whole platform itself. Also, very importantly, support – open a chat window and see what happens. These are things that are very important for us.”

Support was a critical aspect in choosing a cloud provider. As a production service facing customers, close liaison between the cloud vendor and Picturepark would be key. Additionally active communication allows for knowledge transfer and a more optimized setup. CloudSigma offers free 24/7 live chat and email ticketing support as standard from technically trained teams.

“We always got the important answers right away or as fast as possible, so we always knew what will work and what won’t work and if it won’t work we just asked CloudSigma’s operations team and they had the answer pretty fast. And for the support team – in general they are extremely fast and very helpful.”

The initial attempt of Azure to host Picturepark DAM products resulted in a slew of technical limitations and performance disappointments, leading their engineers to give CloudSigma a more thorough evaluation.

“As we started to deploy and set up the DAM solution, we saw that Azure was not capable of some features which they would never deliver on time. The SQL cluster availability was so much faster within CloudSigma. Azure storage performance was not within spec for us. We would have had to switch to a type of storage, which would have been incredibly expensive at that time. The storage at CloudSigma at that time was incredibly fast compared to anything else.”

The Solution

This is the reason for Picturepark to once again review their other top scoring choice – CloudSigma, giving the platform’s capabilities a thorough testing. In terms of architecture, Picturepark is basically working with web servers and storage servers and SQL servers, so they deployed several virtual machines hosting all that stuff.

“Before the web servers they have the high availability proxy clusters, which is also a nice feature available at CloudSigma – that you can cluster Linux machines. We have a site-to-site VPN connection from our office to our private network within CloudSigma, so for us here it’s like we have an extended network to CloudSigma.”

Happy with the performance results and the fact that they can replicate their deployment with zero changes, the decision to select CloudSigma for their deployment was logical and straightforward.

“We would have had to adjust our application extensively to work properly on Azure and therefore we chose CloudSigma.”

“What is important is that we use the scalability feature of the cloud, and we do so a lot. Burst usage flexibility is very, very important and useful for us.”Nick Berthet, CTO @ Picturepark

Another concern was the large volume of data that was to be migrated. As a media-centric service provider, Picturepark stores hundreds of terabytes of customer data and it was very critical for them to achieve a fast ingest to the cloud then sync the changes directly over the wire. If the ingest was too slow the data changes would become too large to sync using connectivity not a physical ingest. The migration of all this data into the cloud would be an issue for most providers. To solve this specific customer’s concern, CloudSigma proved highly open and facilitated a direct data transfer from the Picturepark’s storage devices into the Cloudsigma cloud in order to achieve their operational objective:

“Migrating over to CloudSigma was incredibly easy. They did an incredible job allowing us to connect our own storage devices to their cloud in the data center and copy things over. So that was very helpful, because we saved so much time there. Everything else went very smoothly and since our DAM system is mostly Windows-based, we just booted up virtual machines and configured our applications.”

Picturepark makes extensive and constant use of the flexible on-demand scalability and granular infrastructure configuration that CloudSigma’s cloud offers. For example, when Picturepark updates content search indexes, which means calculating every index for every customer, they elastically scale up resources over the weekend.

The Impact

The commoditization of infrastructure in the cloud allows each layer of the architecture serving the customer to be dedicated to an expert in their respective field, the end result being a higher quality product all round and a better end-user experience. CloudSigma focuses on the cloud, Picturepark on their web-based service.

“We are so closely connected to CloudSigma’s technical staff and support staff – it’s very important that we know what’s going on.”

“I think CloudSigma is very competitive in terms of pricing, especially when you consider the performance. One should not only consider the actual price per let’s say a GB of RAM, but also the speed of a GB of RAM. Based on our research, the CloudSigma platform is for sure one of the fastest solutions available.”Nick Berthet, CTO @ Picturepark

Previously, when their service hosting was in-house, Picturepark personnel was on standby 24/7 to monitor the infrastructure and make sure everything continued to function properly. Since the service is in the cloud, Picturepark technical staff is much more relaxed, because CloudSigma has reliable points of contact to take care of all the infrastructure management, which reinsures a more stress-free atmosphere at the workplace during the resolvement of an issue.

In terms of performance, since the relocation of Picturepark’s service their customers have reported noticing lower latencies and higher download speeds. Combined with the cost advantage of not having to maintain their own hardware, Picturepark team reports a highly convincing price-performance ratio of CloudSigma.

The Future

The basic deployment architecture of Picturepark is still the same, however the company has doubled their usage of RAM and CPU compared to the situation when they had their our own infrastructure.

“Every now and then we add for example some storage, some CPU or RAM to our virtual machines, and we still haven’t had to change any important thing within our infrastructure even after the migration project.”

“Having one partner for everything, with a choice of locations, to be able to be closer to the customers and provide better performance, allows us to better able to serve customers.”Nick Berthet, CTO @ Picturepark

Recently, Picturepark has become the first beta tester and after that user of the new archive storage type, currently offered by CloudSigma in beta version. The company is also interested in the upcoming backup functionality and potentially in serving international customers from other cloud locations. They are happy that their business development plans are in line with the platform development and global expansion strategy of CloudSigma and look forward to many more years of successful cooperation.

About Vanya Nikova

Vanya is leading the Global Customer Development Team at CloudSigma. Beside that, she is responsible for a number of big data and big science partners and projects at CloudSigma. She has a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Mannheim, Germany with 10 years of work experience in sales and consulting services.

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