ClearSaleing

ClearSaleing’s unique challenges included the need to accommodate seasonal demand spikes, to scale infrastructure up and down throughout the year and to have a technology platform that provided seamless migration as they experienced 18 consecutive quarters of double-digit, quarter-over-quarter revenue growth. Readers who are researching cloud solution providers (CSPs),  have questions about migrating to the cloud, or are considering adding cloud and hybrid technologies will benefit from ClearSaleing’s experience.


“Scalable, highly available infrastructure is a necessity for our business to succeed. After much research and testing, we determined that HOSTING is both the hosting provider but more importantly, the business partner we could rely on to meet our rapidly changing infrastructure needs.”

ClearSaleing CIO
Luke Tuttle


“ClearSaleing’s requirements and rapid growth have proven to be a challenge. Their need for fast processing of large amounts of data and an infrastructure that is always available is being met with success by utilizing our hybrid approach and leveraging cloud, dedicated servers and SAN storage.”

HOSTING Director of Sales – East
Mark Click


“The bottom line is that HOSTING supports our rapid growth with innovative infrastructure solutions. Hybrid hosting models are the future of infrastructure – with HOSTING we get to experience those hybrid cost and performance benefits today.”

ClearSaleing CIO
Luke Tuttle


Background

ClearSaleing is a Software-as-a-Service / SaaS company whose products and services help marketers and agencies measure online ad campaign performance for pay-per-click, organic, social media, email marketing and shopping comparison engines. ClearSaleing’s advertising analytics technology is built on top of an industry-leading attribution management platform that allows advertisers to measure and improve the ROI of their digital advertising portfolio. As is true of all SaaS companies, ClearSaleing’s products and services are provided to clients in a hosted environment with no significant software or hardware installation maintained at each user’s site. The ClearSaleing product and service suites rely on uptime, network throughput, and rapid scalability to make their sophisticated analysis tools function at top speed, in all seasons and for a diverse client base.

Clients in the retail sector use ClearSaleing to track the efficacy of their ad campaigns and to mine data that will reveal the best sales and marketing tactics to forecast inventory requirements and consumer demand.

In 2006, the ClearSaleing team anticipated phenomenal growth in their business but needed to maintain a conservative start-up budget.  Surveying the marketplace of hosting providers, CIO Luke Tuttle noted that premium hosting companies who offered the technology they required to scale and flex also came with a premium price tag and less than stellar support. Other hosting providers seemed mired in a narrow range of services that would not accommodate the growth and seasonal spikes endemic to their business.  This paper discusses ClearSaleing’s hosting technology challenge, describes the decision process they used to select the best partner, and documents the resolution they found to support their rapidly growing business.

Challenge

Providing a SaaS product suite that uses complex analytics tools to swap data in and out of many databases puts heavy demands on computing infrastructure.  ClearSaleing’s dedicated servers carried this load, but over time began to be overburdened with the company’s expanding client base and broadened product mix.

ClearSaleing’s growth depended upon finding a hosting provider who could meet these needs, rapidly scale, guarantee 24/7/365 uptime, provide enterprise class options, and combine virtual and cloud hosting—a hybrid model—along with dedicated colocation in a convenient, secure data center.

Key Issue: Scale with Seasonal Spikes

A key issue for ClearSaleing was finding a hosting provider who could not only scale up but also down, to support the seasonality of their business.  Many of ClearSaleing’s customer use in a peak-season modality: they must be able to ramp up in the fall and winter holiday months.  Post-holiday, as demand slackens, ClearSaleing’s goal was to match the lessened demand with no diminution in efficiency, speed or support, and without stepping down the technical profile of their hosting platform in any way.

Solution

ClearSaleing turned to HOSTING as their hosting provider of choice.  After researching the solutions put forward by various hosting industry leaders, only HOSTING offered the scalable infrastructure they needed at market-leading prices.

Long-term Relationship, Starting Small

ClearSaleing’s relationship with HOSTING began in May, 2006, by hosting a single server with HOSTING, to test our services and flexibility.

  • By July 2006 they expanded from 1 server to 3, in order to start building out their SaaS infrastructure. They quickly added redundancy to include load balancing, additional servers and firewall to expand their footprint and support their growth.
  • During the next 2 years, ClearSaleing continued to add servers to handle increasing demands on their application and database. HOSTING provided the hardware, licensing, management and support.
  • In August 2009 ClearSaleing added 11 servers and 12TB of additional storage capacity to support one of their new customers.
  • From September 2009 through April 2010, numerous servers and upgrades were added to the account while discussions continued on how to improve the infrastructure.

Migration to the Cloud

Early in 2010, ClearSaleing and HOSTING met to discuss the state of ClearSaleing’s architecture, and to identify new ways to better support their rapid growth using HOSTING’s cloud solutions. This meeting led to a new plan: adding cloud enterprise components, physical servers and SAN storage to create a hybrid solution that could further increase speed to market while increasing the reliability of their platform. ClearSaleing adopted the new architecture, which includes redundant Juniper SSG-350 firewalls, cloud enterprise servers for their web tracking and web servers and physical Dell R710’s with redundant fiber channel connections to HOSTING’s EMC SANs. HOSTING connected ClearSaleing’s dedicated environment through a private VLAN to ensure solution connectivity, performance and integrity.

ClearSaleing’s CIO Luke Tuttle notes, “We were cautious about moving any of our infrastructure to the cloud, but the enterprise class architecture that HOSTING deployed along with their customer portal, which lets us manage multiple environments from one place, sold us on the idea of at least testing the cloud.”

Hybrid Solution: Perfect Fit

In June 2010, ClearSaleing won a large contract with Hilton Hotels.  To support and grow this exciting new enterprise client, they asked HOSTING to implement a solution to support a mix of 8 new virtual and dedicated servers and over 30TB of SAN Storage.  With the hybrid environment that was already in place, these resources came online in a short time frame, allowing ClearSaleing to quickly realize the cost benefits and inherent redundancies built into the HOSTING cloud products. Work was completed in July 2010.

Currently HOSTING and ClearSaleing are working on a plan to migrate the original infrastructure from Irvine to Louisville, based upon cloud enterprise and the new SQL Server configurations, with a goal to complete migration in Q1, 2011.

Results

HOSTING continues to grow the technology platform on which ClearSaleing’s business depends. Critical decisions were made based on HOSTING’s use of Dell hardware, EMC SANs and SATA drives, which provide a lower cost–per-gigabyte than most other providers. Leading edge equipment and scalable technology architecture, all wrapped in excellent support, sustain the ongoing relationship.

Key Decision Points

SERVICE BENEFIT
INFRASTRUCTURE Deployed and maintained by HOSTING
INVESTMENT No heavy infrastructure investment, permitting them to pace the growth of their infrastructure spend with demand
REDUNDANCY Ensures the solution is always up and available for ClearSaleing’s customers
SELF-SERVICE PORTAL Allows ClearSaleing to rapidly change resource allocations on all Cloud servers to meet seasonal demands from their customers
SUPPORT 24/7/365 support from a dedicated team of knowledgeable technicians
MIGRATION Migration planning and project management to assist in the migration of legacy infrastructure from the data center in Irvine to the data center in Louisville
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