Founded in 2002 in Montpellier, France, Access Global Security (AGS) Cloud offers advanced backup-as-a-service (BaaS) and related disaster-recovery and business-continuity solutions. The company sells almost exclusively through other cloud service providers, who then resell the solutions to businesses throughout France.
To help its partners serve their customers more effectively, AGS Cloud has created a self-service portal. While the portal remained functional, it was starting to show its age. To keep pace with competing offers from other BaaS providers — including new startups on global public cloud platforms — AGS Cloud decided to modernize the portal.
As part of the modernization initiative, AGS Cloud aimed to increase security and resilience. The company is always conscious that its partners — and their customers in turn — trust it with their most precious resource: business data. In the face of growing cybersecurity risks such as ransomware, AGS Cloud wanted to provide better data protection. At the same time, AGS Cloud aimed to ensure greater ease of use and more of an end-to-end service for its partners. The final vision for the new self-service portal was that partners would be able to manage everything in one place. For example, they would simply click a button to generate client invoices for all services used that month.
AGS Cloud aimed to help its reseller partners bring powerful backup-as-a-service solutions to enterprise customers throughout France. By migrating its existing partner portal from a monolithic architecture to microservices running on containers managed with Rancher Prime and secured with NeuVector, AGS Cloud has gained a more flexible and robust platform for delivering existing and new offerings.
The journey to containers
The previous version of AGS Cloud’s portal had been developed as a monolithic application. Making even small changes to code would often uncover what Matthias Gibert, information systems manager and Kévin Goubé, R&D manager, refer to as “spaghetti syndrome”: a web of tangled dependencies that would significantly slow down development.
The organization therefore decided not only to rewrite the portal application but also to move to a microservices-based architecture that would simplify and accelerate any future development.
With microservices in mind — whereby application code is broken down into the smallest practical units of reusable functionality — AGS Cloud naturally turned to containers as its platform for the future. Containers provide everything a microservice needs to run, without introducing dependencies on any other containers: an architecture that fits the microservices concept perfectly.
“Being in control of the flow of data is naturally very important to us: knowing what’s coming in, what’s going out and why. NeuVector Prime gives us that visibility and control.“
Why Rancher Prime?
In keeping with its broader adoption of DevOps and Continuous Integration/ Continuous Delivery (CI/CD), AGS Cloud aimed to make a rapid start with a small implementation of containers, then iterate at an appropriate pace to increase the scope of the solution. In SUSE, the company found an ideal solution partner that was ready to work in the same way — without a formal proof-of-concept exercise or a large upfront investment. Rancher Prime from SUSE gave AGS Cloud a containerization platform backed by expert technical resources.
AGS Cloud had some experience internally with Docker containers but no formal knowledge around Kubernetes orchestration for larger containerized landscapes. Thanks to Rancher Virtual Rodeo events — free, in-depth online workshops designed to give DevOps and IT teams the hands-on skills they need to deploy and manage Kubernetes everywhere — AGS Cloud was able to hit the ground running with Rancher Prime.
“We work closely with VMware, so we also considered Tanzu for container management,” says Matthias Gibert. “However, we found that Rancher Prime as a platform offered greater simplicity. In addition, the Rodeos enabled us to get hands-on experience very quickly. We soon reached an internal consensus that SUSE was the right partner.”
Why NeuVector Prime?
AGS Cloud started out in business as a security service provider, and security remains a key element of its offering. Given that the company’s partners are managing their customers’ most precious resource, it was naturally critical to embed security at the deepest level in the new containerized landscape.
By selecting NeuVector Prime, AGS Cloud gained a comprehensive container security solution that integrates seamlessly with Rancher Prime. The deep integration between the SUSE solutions, combined with easy automation, also ensures simplicity in operations — a vital factor in ensuring that AGS Cloud’s relatively small IT security team can effectively focus on protecting and supporting large customer environments.
“I was really won over by NeuVector Prime’s combination of simplicity and power,” says Matthias Gibert.
The impact of Rancher Prime
Rapid and easy deployment
For AGS Cloud, the immediate benefit of Rancher Prime was its ease of deployment. The company was able to make a rapid start on its new containerized partner portal. During the implementation, local SUSE experts were able to advise on overcoming implementation challenges and to transfer knowledge to the AGS Cloud team.
“Setting up and configuring Rancher Prime was fast and easy, thanks to the valuable experience from the Rodeos and the great backing from SUSE,” says Matthias Gibert. “It took us just a few weeks to go into production with functional landscapes for both development and production.”
Support for new ways of working
The adoption of containers managed by Rancher Prime has contributed to a broader transformation at AGS Cloud. The company has adopted DevOps and CI/CD methodologies to accelerate the transformation of its partner portal.
“As we embrace microservices and containerization, we are already cutting development time and enabling more of a lightweight approach to updating our applications,” says Matthias Gibert. “Thanks to the new approach, we can act in a much more targeted way if we need to change something.”
Simplified management of a complex environment
Rancher Prime gives AGS Cloud excellent visibility of its containerized landscape, helping the company’s existing technical team to maintain full control over an environment that will grow larger and more complex over time.
“We’re planning a huge number of improvements to the portal, which will naturally increase the number of microservices and containers,” says Matthias Gibert. “With Rancher Prime, we’ll be able to manage additional complexity with ease, so that we can focus on giving our partners greater speed, agility and usability in managing their customer environments.”
The impact of NeuVector Prime
NeuVector Prime adds to the benefits of Rancher Prime by ensuring that security is built into containers by default and from the ground up. For AGS Cloud, NeuVector Prime makes it easy to check that all container deployments conform to its security standards and that the appropriate patches and updates have been applied to all components. In addition, the solution allows for the creation of behavioural-based Zero-trust policies that applies security to interactions between containers preventing them from deviating from their expected behavior, and it enables AGS Cloud to understand and visualize how data is moving across its infrastructure.
“Being in control of the flow of data is naturally very important to us: knowing what’s coming in, what’s going out and why,” says Matthias Gibert. “NeuVector Prime gives us that visibility and control, and we’re confident that it will help us in gaining ISO 27001 security certification.”
What’s next for AGS Cloud?
In the near future, AGS Cloud plans to add a containers-as-a-service offering to its solution portfolio. The company will use Rancher Prime and NeuVector Prime to automatically set up and manage containers for its partners — and potentially as a direct offer to end-customers.
Containerization also opens up new options for AGS Cloud to offer software-as-a-service solutions. For example, the company is considering using Rancher Prime to host containerized instances of WordPress.
In the face of competition, AGS Cloud is confident that it can continue to differentiate itself through its ability to deliver made-to-measure solutions backed by attentive local support.