Created in 1897, Kempinski Hotels is Europe’s oldest luxury hotel group. Kempinski’s rich heritage of impeccable personal service and superb hospitality is complemented by the exclusivity and individuality of its properties.
Kempinski currently comprises a portfolio of 81 five-star hotels in 30 countries and continues to add new properties in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia. Each one reflects the strength and success of the Kempinski brand without losing sight of its heritage.
The portfolio includes historic landmark properties, award-winning urban lifestyle hotels, outstanding resorts, and prestigious residences.
In 2010, the organization’s corporate IT department was using over 140 virtualized servers to run a broad range of operating systems. “We are only a mid-size IT organization,” says Jeremy Ward, Senior Vice President of IT. “We wanted our IT staff to spend less time managing the infrastructure, focus on our core business, and improve the productivity of applications for the company.” Furthermore, the organization wanted to save costs by improving the IT infrastructure while managing unpredictable and dynamically changing workloads.
Kempinski Hotels decided that a public cloud was the best way to improve its IT operations. After reviewing three cloud providers, the company chose Amazon Web Services to take advantage of the elastic computing model and the flexibility to add or remove server capacity and instances as needed. “We needed a mature platform and AWS has a proven history of running enterprise class workloads,” comments Ward. “We followed up on a number of case studies and references to confirm that the platform was reliable and would perform in the way we expected.”
Furthermore, Kempinski Hotels considered AWS to be the only cloud service provider able to allow it to operate core business processes continuously and add resources as needed without time or usage commitments. Kempinski Hotels chose Cloudreach, an Advanced Consulting Partner of the AWS Partner Network (APN), to help the company migrate to the AWS Cloud and provide ongoing management, monitoring, and backup services.
Kempinski Hotels’ environment includes Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2), Amazon Elastic Block Store (Amazon EBS), Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS) and Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3). The IT staff uses web management tools to provision computational, storage, networking, database and other resources instantaneously as needed.
Security is vital to Kempinski Hotels and the solution had to be PCI-DSS compliant. Working with Cloudreach, the company used a hardware Virtual Private Network (VPN) to connect the corporate datacenter in Geneva to Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (Amazon VPC). This configuration allows Kempinski Hotels to provision a logically isolated section of the AWS Cloud and create an enterprise multi-layer network topology that meets the company’s compliance requirements. Additionally, Cloudreach created a highly available, software-based VPN solution on top of Amazon EC2 and Amazon VPC to resolve hardware incompatibility issues. Kempinski Hotels made AWS the entry point to its corporate infrastructure, which has improved connectivity between its 81 hotels and significantly reduced the cost of providing remote user VPN connectivity. Figure 1 demonstrates Kempinski Hotels’ architecture on AWS.
Kempinski Hotels has been able to delegate much of the operational overhead associated with managing an infrastructure to the AWS Cloud. “We are a hospitality management organization, not an IT services company,” says Ward. “We’re experiencing better uptime on AWS compared to our traditional on-premises infrastructure and we don’t have to deal with air conditioning, power supply, or hardware failures. The route we took to the AWS Cloud means that we don't have to think twice about hardware.”
The company works with Cloudreach to install a range of services and applications. “Backups, patching and monitoring have taken a back seat and my team is now fully occupied in creating genuine business,” Ward comments. “These tasks bring value to our corporate departments and business units, and as a result, to our customers.”
Several departments, including Operations, Finance and Accounting and Training Services, have moved to AWS and Kempinski Hotels plans to move its entire infrastructure to AWS and close the Geneva datacenter. The company anticipates that migrating completely to AWS will lower the total cost of ownership. Ward estimates, “We’re avoiding the cost of hardware and software refreshes and on-premises facilities. When we consider these savings as well as lower operational costs and improved staff productivity, Kempinski Hotels is reducing costs by roughly 40 percent over a five year period.”
Ward concludes, “The ability to provision resources rapidly, scale dynamically to meet demand, and decommission instances when we don’t need them saves costs and provides unmatched business agility.”