SOS International A/S: Flexibility and resilience when the alarm goes off

SOS International A/S is a Nordic-based assistance and alarm organization with more than 750 employees based in Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland.

The organization offers both local and global assistance on everything from a heart attack in Bangkok to a punctured truck in Luleå, Sweden. Alarm calls are handled from the organization’s emergency dispatch centers and assistance is coordinated for land, sea and air.

The company slogan is “Always on”. Being responsive and always available is very highly valued in the entire organization. At the same time, SOS International A/S has ambitious growth plans, which involves purchasing and integration of other companies. This means that the management faces a challenging task: How do you build a robust and operationally reliable datacenter infrastructure that at the same time is scalable and prepared for growth?

Thorough analysis behind partner choice

When the ambition is to take optimum care of people in crisis situations, competencies and the most advanced tools for providing assistance are of great importance. SOS International A/S was very ambitious in approaching the task and handpicked professionals for a new team who were to be responsible for building an infrastructure to answer the business challenges. Jon Erichsen, who was hired by IT Operations Manager Martin Trenter, thoroughly analyzed the partner landscape before deciding to engage in partnership with Conscia.

“First of all, we took a technology choice because our needs had to be matched by the absolute correct technologies. Conscia’s Cisco expertise was in this aspect a crucial selling point. In addition to the technical skills, Conscia’s attitude to cooperation was also important to us,” says Jon Erichsen, pointing out that the collaboration was concluded right from the start of the design phase where Conscia’s technicians and SOS International A/S’ team made the strategy for the project together.

“We have a ‘right-sourcing’ philosophy. This means that we in some cases outsource and in other cases keep the necessary competencies in-house in order to operate our equipment in the best possible way, which has been the case with the IT infrastructure. This is why Conscia’s ability to securely handing over control of the infrastructure to their clients has been of great importance to us.”

Close cooperation from project management to service portal

Conscia allocated a project manager who ensured that the emergency centers were not affected during the implementation period. The project involved implementation of server, virtualization, storage and management technologies in datacenters on three separate locations, while the network in the entire Nordic region was upgraded.

Additionally, SOS International A/S has gained a unique overview of all Cisco units in their infrastructure through Conscia’s Service Portal. This has played a vital role in the aspiration to be ISO certified in information security and quality assurance. In order to get the ISO certification, documentation and overview of all units in the infrastructure was necessary, which is an integrated part of Conscia’s complete service concept.

“SOS International A/S has to be prepared for what I call a 747-scenario, a profound disaster out of the blue as when a plane crashes. In order to be prepared for events that really are impossible to predict we have to employ foresight in everything we do. Upgrading our datacenter was no exception,” Jon Erichsen concludes.

The technical solution in brief

Datacenter solution on three separate locations comprised of:

  • The Cisco Nexus platform that is specifically designed for the very high demands for up-time and performance in the datacenter. The OTV-protocol is used for Layer 2 traffic between the three datacenters.
  • Cisco UCS (Unified Computing System) solution. The heart of the solution is the fabric interconnects, which function both as unified fabric switches and contain the UCS Manager for centralized management of the entire UCS system.
  • Nexus1000v and Virtual Security Gateway that ensures visibility and integration with the virtualization layer, with the possibility of implementing rules across both physical and virtual infrastructure.
  • In-Service Software Upgrade architecture that allows for upgrade and service without downtime.
  • Cisco MDS switches for storage solution access.
  • ISR routers with built-in UCS servers for WAN acceleration or other virtual devices (e.g. domain controller)
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