Private Cloud Hosting for real.de

The Challenge

We began working with German online retailer real,– back when their core group ran a small startup called Hitmeister. Hitmeister was a Silicon Valley-minded company operating an online marketplace where users could sell and buy high-quality goods — a curated German eBay.

Their CTO, Fabian, reached out to us because he heard Agathon would be able to help Hitmeister fix their problematic server infrastructure.

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Hitmeister’s server environment had grown into a patchwork of dedicated hosting full of inefficiencies. Their data was spread across 40 servers without a management interface, and they often lost data and had to revert to backups during content migrations.

Fabian and his team were savvy enough to know their server environment was holding back growth. Hitmeister was seeking two things from Agathon: First, they wanted a server environment that allowed them to be agile and that was as close to invisible as possible. They’re in the auction business, not the server business. Second, and just as important, they wanted a partner who understood their problems and would provide a clear plan in addition to a technical solution.

We understood Hitmeister’s pain points. We’d seen many clients hamstrung by their providers. We also knew that the best way forward was to start fresh, while being intentional about each facet of Hitmeister’s new server environment.

The Process

We worked with Fabian and the Hitmeister team to develop a custom private cloud hosting environment. This solution improved upon their previous dedicated hosting in a handful of important ways.

  • The cloud hosting environment took care of housekeeping details, so they didn’t have to be managed manually. For one, the cloud environment automatically mirrored all changes and updates instantly on other servers. This meant that, if the first server were to die, not only was the data safe in real-time, recovery didn’t require downtime. Next, the environment came with a templating system that allowed developers to perform upgrades in the template, then apply them everywhere.
  • The new infrastructure gave developers the ability to provision smaller environments within a server. When working in their dedicated hosting environment, Hitmeister had to allocate an entire server to a task, wasting the rest of that server’s space. With our updated, hardware-agnostic environment solution, they could dedicate one “vacuum-sealed” part of a server to a task.
  • Hitmeister’s new private cloud had dedicated resources made-to-order based on their exact specifications. We worked closely with Hitmeister to define their needs so they’d only pay for the resources they would use.
  • The private cloud environment had a self-service portal that allowed Hitmeister to manage updates themselves. They didn’t need to call us every time they needed something. The Hitmeister team had full control. However, if they wanted our help…
  • Their private cloud hosting had our full support, with a focus on personal service and taking care of all details with the vendors. We answer the phone when our clients call, and Hitmeister was no different. We used screenshare and other virtual meeting technology, and we even visited their office in Germany. Rather than provisioning the new infrastructure and walking away, we educated Hitmeister on how to best use it and made sure they had everything they needed to succeed.

Finally, because Hitmeister is a German company, we had to develop a vendor structure within Germany. We have team members based all over the world, but regulatory compliance in the European Union was new to us. Still, we are happy to work toward accommodating any legal or regulatory measures our clients require, and in Hitmeister's case, we were able to satisfy both German law and their legal team.

How It Worked

By going from a dedicated hosting environment to a private cloud hosting environment, Hitmeister consolidated to less than half as many servers, yet had more processing power, better security, and more storage than before. Rather than using more machines at 40% capacity, we used fewer at 90% -- cutting operational costs by 40%. Hitmeister got the most out of their hardware and increased their flexibility in the meantime.

Importantly, Fabian and the Hitmeister team were highly involved throughout the process, which had a huge impact on the effectiveness of their new, organization-specific cloud hosting tool.

However, that’s not where the story ends.

Nine months after Hitmeister implemented their new private cloud hosting infrastructure, their business success caught the eye of Metro AG, the fourth largest retailer in the world. Hitmeister was acquired by Metro AG and folded under the real,– umbrella. Many of the Hitmeister team members, including Fabian, stayed on.

Fabian asked us to assist as the organization and structure transitioned.

Since the acquisition, real,– has experienced very strong growth and expanded their own team more than tenfold to keep up.

We value our ongoing relationship with real,–. We continue to handle ongoing support requests from the team as well as forward-looking quarterly update calls. Because real,–’s private cloud hosting environment was built just for them, we can modify it to support their agility and growth, no matter what business opportunity comes next.

Are you looking for a custom private cloud hosting environment that better suits your organization’s specific needs? We’d love to help.

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