|Before introducing SIOS Coati||After introducing SIOS Coati|
|Need to address system troubles via VPN during an overseas business trip||SIOS Coati automatically restarts the service|
|IT person always carrying a laptop||No need to pay attention to the operations and management of instances|
|Take much time on helpdesk work and trouble handling||Able to focus on IT strategy and security related to the business management|
Typical “One-Man IT Department,” Always Busy at a Traditional Company
Since founded in 1932, Tokyo Diamond Tools Mfg. Co., Ltd. has supported manufacturing with diamond tools. The company continues to provide such tools, which support cutting, slicing, polishing, and drilling processes in a wide range of fields such as home electronics, semiconductors, electronic devices, healthcare and civil engineering, with high technology. Although it is a long-established company with over 80 years of history, Tokyo Diamond has been aggressively introducing new IT tools. The company improved both in speed and efficiency of business by introducing AWS (Amazon Web Services) and virtualization of the core systems, etc.
Tokyo Diamond Tools Mfg. Co., Ltd. has newly introduced a cloud operations and management tool, “SIOS Coati” from SIOS Technology, in November 2017. Mr. Kokubo, Head of IT System at Tokyo Diamond said, “I decided to introduce SIOS Coati in 30 seconds” when he was proposed it. Why did he need a cloud operations management tool so desperately?
One of the reasons for the acceleration of company's moving forward to the cloud computing with AWS was the Great East Japan Earthquake. Until then, servers were installed on premises at the headquarters in Meguro, Tokyo while IT equipment was installed on racks at the factory in Miyagi Prefecture.
Although there was no direct damage to the servers at the head office from the Great East Japan Earthquake, the equipment at the Sendai plant dropped out of the rack, causing serious damage. Having experienced the need for a BCP (Business Continuity Plan), the company decided to drive the change. As part of the effort, the virtualization of the core system and the use of cloud environments including AWS started.
First, the company started migrating to the cloud from relatively small applications. “We started the study around November 2011. At that time, we had no choice but AWS,” said Mr. Kokubo. They managed operations by themselves using Sony Network Communications' cloud portal, "Managed Cloud with AWS." Mr. Kokubo is so-called “One-Man IT,” and efficient and automated operations as much as possible are vital in order to enable smooth operations of company’s IT system including overseas systems.
Using AWS is one of the solutions for it and the company implemented Amazon EC2, a virtual server service on the cloud (EC2), and Amazon S3, a cloud storage service. Moreover, the company needed to implement a cloud operations management tool in order to realize smooth and safe operations of the system. With this background, Mr. Kokubo decided to implement SIOS Coati, which enables automatic monitoring and recovery of EC2, in 2017. Just before making decision, he had experienced a trouble being “One-Man IT.”
Learned the Importance of the Recovery Solution from a Trouble
Mr. Kokubo experienced a trouble with EC2. “EC2 provided by AWS is stable as an infrastructure; however, sometimes services on it fail. I usually worried about the system and one day, during my overseas business trip, I got a call saying that users cannot access the system. I opened my laptop, which I was carrying all the time, to connect AWS via VPN and recovered the failed service,” said Mr. Kokubo.
A service failure occurred on the instance where the groupware ran. Most of the company employees use the groupware every morning for checking the calendar or booking meeting rooms. Therefore, “many people called me what’s going on,” said Mr. Kokubo. He learned the risks of taking care of the system only by himself through this experience. “This is why I decided to use SIOS Coati even before looking at details when Sony Network Communications told me about it, which provides automated operations and management of EC2. If we have a tool which automatically recovers the EC2 services, I don’t have to troubleshoot by connecting to VPN on-the-go,” Mr. Kokubo added.
In 2011, the company had been in a process of the transition to AWS. At that time, most applications migrated to AWS were groupware, SFA (sales support system), and video conferencing systems.
Especially, a video conferencing system is “a tool that is very frequently used in various conferences and meetings with overseas locations. It is used 100 times a month, and with the transition from the conventional pay-as-you-go SaaS system to AWS, we could reduce the cost as much as two million yen a year,” said Mr. Kokubo. When using a SaaS-based video conferencing system, voice quality often dropped when too many users including other companies connected to the system at the same time. In such case, Mr. Kokubo received a complaint from users every time but the problem could not be solved independently. Building a company-specific video conferencing system on AWS has also stabilized video and audio quality and reduced complaints.
“Ten years ago, systems were somewhat allowed to stop when `there- was a failure.’ Currently, however, I get complaints as soon as it stops. Systems are expected to be up and running all the time like water comes out of a tap anytime. System down is becoming more and more unacceptable,” said Mr. Kokubo.
More than 10 Applications Running on AWS
Since Tokyo Diamond recognized the effect of the migration of some applications to AWS, it continued to migrate other applications to AWS. As of June 2018, more than 10 applications are running on AWS. “I feel that AWS is useful: the operating system is started in 10 minutes and resources can be scaled up/down flexibly depending on the business. Even we can delete a resource even if it does not work. On the other hand, the core system that processes a large volume of data is migrated to a virtual environment using a data center, not AWS. We are using both AWS and virtual data center to build a system depending on the usage and needs,” said Mr. Kokubo.
Mr. Kokubo always felt that he had to take care of a trouble when one of the services running on AWS EC2 failed. Because of this, he was “always carrying a laptop just in case.” And this helped when he was abroad. However, it continued to be a burden to him and remained as a backup system relying on a specific person. Mr. Kokubo said, “Being a One-Man IT, I tend to consider that my value lies in a helpdesk work. But it’s not good – I need to consider how I can make the system of Tokyo Diamond work without my support.”
SIOS Coati, which Mr. Kokubo decided to introduce in 30 seconds, is a cloud service that monitors EC2 instances all the time and restart the service automatically when it detects a trouble. When the monitored service fails, SIOS Coati “recovers the service automatically” without calling system personnel with an alert. Tokyo Diamond currently monitors three critical applications including a groupware, SFA and video conference system, which affect end users daily work when fail, with SIOS Coati. Mr. Kokubo said, “first, we classified the applications and started from three of them. It is worth paying fee if I can be freed from daily mental burden and get peace of mind during business trip.”
Perfectly Working SIOS Coati Enables IT Personnel to Focus on Other Tasks
As of June 2018, just over six months after the introduction of SIOS Coati, the company has got only one message from SIOS Coati saying that it has recovered the service.
According to Mr. Kokubo, he does not need to think about operations and management of instances monitored by SIOS Coati. SIOS Coati is working perfectly. There are other applications running on AWS and he need to care about the behavior of virtual machines in virtualized data center. But SIOS Coati "reduced concerns." Mr. Kokubo feels that the tool which brings such sense of security is important for him.
However, he has a request for SIOS Coati. “If there's no events, I’m worried about whether it's working properly, or I may forget how to login. It would be better if it regularly notify me that it is working,” said Mr. Kokubo. Automatic operations and management are the strength of SIOS Coati; however, it becomes invisible when nothing happens. He thinks that system administrators may feel better if they could see the status of SIOS Coati.
Having said that, Mr. Kokubo also said that it was great benefit that he was freed from troubleshooting. Now he can spend much time on management, including developing IT strategy and planning, security, and BCP initiatives. There still are some challenges; however, it is a great advantage of “One-Man IT” to be able to focus on IT strategy and human resource development toward the future growth, not on helpdesk support or troubleshooting.
The company uses SIOS Coati for operations and management of three applications, but it plans to extend Coati’s coverage to other applications. This may enable Mr. Kokubo to spend much time on more value-added business. “Even if we try to hire system personnel, it will be difficult because Japan's workforce is decreasing. In future, I expect system tools to replace people using AI (Artificial Intelligence), and I hope SIOS Coati also develops AI-like functions to automatically address high-impact failures,” said Mr. Kokubo, hoping for a day when further automation of operations management will be realized.