Lebara Mobile

Subject: Hybrid Cloud Hosting - Colo to Cloud
Industry Sector: Consumer Mobile
Country: Netherlands, Demark, Spain, Switzerland, the UK, Australia and Germany
Organisation: Lebara

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About Lebara
Lebara provides pre-paid Mobile SIM cards customised to the needs of international communities, which offer low cost calls and texts. Launched in the Netherlands in 2004, by the start of 2010 it had over 2.5 million customers in the Netherlands, Denmark, Spain, Switzerland, the UK, Australia and Germany. In 2006 it was listed in The Fast Track 100 as the fourth fastest-growing private company in the UK and by 2010 it had revenues of over 500 million Euros.

It has benefitted from the move away from fixed line telephony and targeting anyone hungry for high quality, low cost calls abroad, such as migrant workers.

The Challenge
Lebara experienced a huge period of growth leading up to early 2010, and the increasing numbers of customers were putting pressure on its existing IT infrastructure and applications. The original server infrastructure hosted at its London offices was starting to struggle with the growth and it failed to provide a single operating platform that would underpin the applications used by its global branches.

As with any business critical application, Lebara was dealing with a host of time consuming administrative tasks just to keep its applications available and performing to an optimal level at all times.  

In addition, Lebara’s expanding workforce meant it had outgrown its two London offices. It required new commercial premises to house its team, IT infrastructure to support its business goal of aggressive growth and an outsourced team to manage its key applications.  

Lebara needed a supplier to support both a complete technology deployment and an office relocation. Having never outsourced any IT functions before, the company was keen to source a provider it could trust to not only deliver a single stack of IT from network to application, but also support a physical migration into purpose built premises. The infrastructure rebuild would simply re-house some physical servers and virtualise others where there was a clear cost and efficiency saving. This would enable Lebara to bring new business applications online or make systematic changes quickly without requiring an in-house team to maintain physical infrastructure.

“We’ve benefitted from people naturally migrating away from fixed line telephony, but we always wanted to avoid being victims of our own success and phenomenal growth. Having a technology infrastructure that can match our business objectives over the next five years is critical in being able to provide the same quality of service that our existing customers have always enjoyed, whilst still attracting new customers to Lebara in all our markets. NTT Europe provided this infrastructure, giving us confidence in our technology to continue our success.”

Tristan Brandt, Managing Director, Lebara

First steps
Lebara selected NTT Europe following an intensive procurement process, demonstrating the required flexibility, industry leading know-how, and international experience the mobile operator demanded.

For NTT Europe, the project would work in two stages:

1.    Transition: Lebara’s legacy hardware needed to be migrated from its London offices to NTT’s data centre
2.    Transformation: An audit would be carried out to determine the readiness of Lebara’s applications to move onto virtual machines. A virtual environment would be configured and the applications migrated and optimised

Replacing aging physical hardware infrastructure with purpose built technology is a logistical and technological challenge. It demands a large number of resources from both client and supplier, so NTT Europe was careful to ensure the replacement infrastructure  would be scalable and able to handle Lebara’s continued growth.

NTT Europe physically moved Lebara’s technology from its offices over a weekend, and rebuilt the whole environment within its own Slough data centre. This meant that when Lebara moved into its new offices, there was no requirement for a large amount of physical space for its infrastructure. The servers were housed in a resilient, secured environment where there is little risk to Lebara’s critical business applications.

Following the successful relocation, NTT Europe then designed and deployed an integrated managed hosting service that included the virtualisation of many of Lebara’s servers, further reducing the demand for physical storage and space. This was determined by a ‘cloud readiness’ audit, carried out by NTT Europe’s Professional Services team to ensure critical business applications were in good order before migration. This ensured that those applications which required physical servers were catered for alongside those with the flexibility to be cloud-based, including web apps, Sharepoint and Exchange.  

The final stage of the project involved the transition of legacy business applications such as MS Exchange and Sharepoint onto the new platform, from which NTT Europe’s Application Management team would become responsible for their health and uptime.

NTT Europe developed its service and application management capabilities through a process of client consultation, and now manages the hosting environment right up to the application layer, going beyond the usual obligations of simple managed hosting. Also included was unified threat management, managed storage, backup and recovery, and business network services.

Beating expectations
NTT Europe now manages all of Lebara’s business applications. All services are managed to underpinned by a meaningful SLA giving Lebara peace of mind that its critical data and business functions are protected. Lebara is reassured that a team of ICT experts are looking after its business infrastructure, from the network to application layer.

Lebara now has a structured approach to ICT management and infrastructure that grows with it, supporting the continued rapid growth of the business. By outsourcing its hosting and network build and management to NTT Europe, Lebara can focus on doing what it does best: delivering great customer service and innovative products to its customers. 

“Lebara is a rare success story. A high growth business, of scale, during a period of economic slowdown. We chose NTT through a rigorous screening process, but always expected that we would need a strong relationship to manage the inevitable ups and downs that such a transformation and transition produces. A company like ours will always place challenging demands on our partners, but when we stand back, we realise how much we’ve accomplished and how successful we’ve been.”

Tristan Brandt, Managing Director, Lebara