Service Provider Transformation
Service Provider Transformation
Transforming web hosting with automated self-provisioning
Nov 10, 2016

At Hetzner we provide web hosting services to over 40,000 customers, who use our services to run applications ranging from general web hosting through to online payment systems, ecommerce, vehicle tracking solutions and share trading platforms. We needed to build a new data center and our network had reached its limits so we took the opportunity to build our new network from the ground up. We needed high availability and reliability, horizontal scalability, ease of management and most importantly network automation.


After evaluating various network vendors, we decided to deploy Juniper Networks systems. We’d been using Juniper edge routers in our network for a long time, so we understood the benefits they brought in terms of reliability and ease of operation. We used Juniper Networks® EX2200 Series Ethernet Switches as top-of-rack switches, and Juniper Networks® EX4200 Series Ethernet Switches to deliver aggregation, configured as a virtual chassis, with link aggregation and rack level routing providing resilient connectivity. We used Juniper Networks® EX4500 Series Ethernet Switches to build our core, also configured as a virtual chassis. We felt that Juniper’s virtual chassis technology was key in achieving high availability with horizontal scalability. And we also upgraded our existing Juniper edge routers to Juniper Networks® MX80 3D Universal Edge Routers to increase capacity.


By taking advantage of Juniper’s open and highly programmable architecture, we also built a fully automated operations environment with zero touch provisioning, which means we’ve radically simplified our operating environment and we can turn on new customers with the click of a button. The Junos operating system is universal across all our elements, which really simplifies our network operations. We can deploy servers in the rack, powered down, and have them automatically woken once the network has been configured. This has allowed us to create a really disruptive proposition. Automation allows our customers to self-manage their services, isolated in their own VLANs, with the Junos script setting up the routing and VLANs to the top-of-rack with a single API call.


Since deploying the new network, we’ve seen a 600% increase in throughput, supporting over 100 racks of colocation equipment and nearly 4,000 self-managed servers. Virtual chassis technology has enabled massive horizontal scaling and now we can deploy new infrastructure without any downtime.


We cleared a lot of bottlenecks we weren’t even aware of. And we only have two engineers running the whole network because it’s so stable. Running a single OS across all devicdata centre-03.jpges has lowered our management costs, and has made upgrades simple, cost effective and safe. For example, we upgraded from our previous Juniper routers to the new MX systems with a simple copy of the configuration file.


We also have zero touch provisioning for our non-edge network infrastructure. The network team installs them in advance, then uses a templating system to generate the type of switch it needs. We can have a new switch up and running in minutes, and with a single click we can provision an entire server and operating system in fifteen minutes, when it used to take us about two days. Self-service management and rapid turn-on is a key differentiator for us.


We’re already planning for future growth, considering higher capacity switches and upgrading our aggregation layer to 40 Gbps. When we expand into our network, we’ll be able to deploy new services from core to aggregation to top-of-rack in minutes.