martes, 12 de abril de 2011

Lionbridge Global Translation Provider Simplifies Private Cloud Administration with Portal

Lionbridge translates and adapts technology products and web content to meet the linguistic and technical needs of clients around the world. Lionbridge used server virtualization to simplify its IT infrastructure and build a private cloud environment. To further simplify these processes, the company is deploying the Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager Self Service Portal 2.0. IT staff are using the toolkit to build a simple onboarding portal for its project managers to use when requesting resources in the cloud. Project managers will be prompted to enter their specifications in a standardized format to help IT administrators more easily provision project environments. Simplifying processes also helps to save time, reduce costs, and, ultimately, provide better service to customers.

Lionbridge, headquartered in Waltham, Massachusetts, helps businesses adapt their technology and web content to meet the linguistic and technical needs of a global audience. The company provides translation, testing, and development solutions. Lionbridge has 4,200 employees in 26 offices around the world, and it works with a network of 85,000 independent language and content specialists in more than 100 countries.
Lionbridge has established a system of online portals, workflows, and knowledge bases for doing real-world translations based on the expertise of independent, native-language experts around the world. All translations are stored in real time in a private cloud-based application. This database of translated content is refined over time so that future work can be guided by past experience. This context-based, automated approach increases translation efficiency. Using automation technology and a network of thousands of independent workers in more than 100 countries, Lionbridge services also help search engines return results that are culturally and linguistically appropriate for users in global markets.

As part of its software testing services, Lionbridge also provides testing services to ensure the functionality and usability of applications. Its software certification services validate whether an application runs properly with another application. “An example might be certifying a software package to run on a particular version of the Windows operating system,” says Damian Flynn, Applications Architect for the Corporate IT Core Team at Lionbridge. “We put it through tests and requirements established by Microsoft, and we return the results so that certification awards can be granted to vendors.”
Because Lionbridge requires the skills of experts in such a wide variety of languages, dialects, and technologies, the company needs to be able to work easily with employees and contractors spread around the globe. In the past, Lionbridge maintained a network of data centers in different countries, but keeping all of these remote resources up and running incurred substantial costs and administrative challenges.
The company has responded to these challenges by consolidating its global data centers into a single location to reduce the need for the expenditures associated with physical hardware, data center space, and power. “Centralization lets us take better advantage of being a global company,” says Flynn. “Our IT resources can be administered remotely by engineers anywhere in the world, regardless of geography or time zone. We no longer need to worry about spending time and money to fly staff members to a site on the other side of the planet to carry out a complex deployment. We just open a portal and give them access to the network, and they can work from anywhere.”
Server virtualization has been a key to the company’s success in centralizing IT resources, and Lionbridge has used virtualization as part of the foundation for a private cloud IT infrastructure. Within this private cloud, applications and other resources for localization, validation, and testing are hosted on internal servers and are delivered to internal users through a web interface. Lionbridge began testing virtualization solutions in early 2008, and the company’s private cloud architecture now includes two server farms with 16 physical servers running the Windows 2008 R2 operating system with Hyper-V virtualization technology, and a variable number of virtual machines.
“On average, we are running 350 to 450 virtual machines at any time,” says Flynn. “But that number varies depending on the projects we’re working on. It could be 500 today, 200 tomorrow, and 650 the next day. Virtualization makes it very easy for us to scale up and scale down quickly, depending on need. We’ve been saving thousands upon thousands of dollars because we no longer need to invest in purchasing, shipping, and maintaining new hardware.”
Moving toward a centralized infrastructure has streamlined systems administration and helped Lionbridge find and better utilize translation resources. It has also been a part of the company’s disaster preparedness strategy. “Because we’ve made geographic location less important, we can work with experts almost anywhere in the world,” explains Flynn. “If we need a translator for a particular Chinese dialect, it doesn’t matter if that person is located physically near our Chinese office. This also benefits us if one or more offices have to close due to unplanned or natural disasters. Even issues such as the H1N1 pandemic—which had the potential to disrupt business—can be mitigated due to the flexibility of the cloud, enabling our engineers to work from home, and prevent any serious disruption to business.”
Lionbridge has been using Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008 R2 to manage its virtualized infrastructure, and project managers have used the software’s default self-service portal to work with the virtual machines. The company still saw room for process improvement, however. “Even though we’ve been automating within the data center, there was still a lot of manual work involved,” says Flynn. “Information about resource requests is stored in spreadsheets; different managers regularly provide different data in the forms or use different formats to describe their requirements, so this inherent inconsistency complicates the process of fulfilling their requests.”
Although the move toward a private cloud infrastructure had already brought Lionbridge significant benefits, the company knew that it could further simplify and standardize data center processes by moving away from spreadsheet-based resource requests and automating system onboarding and management. In addition, the company hoped to better track resource usage, while simultaneously extending the company’s cost savings from virtualization.
As part of defining its road map for future IT growth, Lionbridge began to collect a list of enhancements it would like to make to its virtualized private cloud environment. At the top of the list was providing users with a customizable portal for specifying project IT requirements, followed by better tools for IT personnel to manage resource allocation so that individual project environments can run seamlessly and be fully isolated from other projects in the virtual environment. 

“As part of the onboarding process for new projects, we ask managers to define what operating systems, languages, and base tool sets they require for the project, and then build system templates based on this information,” says Flynn. “We needed to be able to apply a quota mechanism to these templates so that we know up front what the requirements will be for the Hyper-V infrastructure, including hosts, RAM, disk storage, and other finite resources.”
Lionbridge began discussions with Microsoft about how to best extend its investment in System Center Virtual Machine Manager to meet these additional requirements. During this time, Lionbridge IT staff became aware of the Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager Self Service Portal 2.0, a free* resource kit available from Microsoft that includes a set of web portals, a data store, and a lightweight provisioning engine, along with documentation and infrastructure guidance to help companies implement the foundation for a private cloud architecture and automate the process of onboarding and provisioning IT resources.
Lionbridge joined the Microsoft Technology Adoption Program for the portal and began doing end-to-end testing of its features in March 2010. During the initial deployment, the IT staff has seen that the portal’s onboarding capabilities will be a good match for the company’s needs. Says Flynn, “The portal onboarding system will enable us to send all of our resource allocation and management spreadsheets to the Recycle Bin and replace them with a simple web portal for project managers.”
The move to a new project portal is helping IT staff establish a consistent requirements definition that our managers must provide when requesting IT resources. “The portal will make administration simpler, because we can standardize the information coming to us, enabling an efficient decision-making process, permitting fast allocation of the requested environment, and ensuring we are prepared for the scalability needs of the project,” says Flynn. “This will also help us determine if a particular project is not appropriate for the private cloud due to specialized requirements.”
The automated provisioning portal will also help Lionbridge IT staff better track how IT resources are being used and how IT efficiencies benefit the company. “Now that we have a more complete and consistent set of data to work with, we easily see where our IT dollars are going, and we can present each business unit with a report explaining their infrastructure costs which can then be trended against the old physical models,” says Flynn. “By using the portal to standardize our IT processes, we can better understand the money we save as a result of our private cloud lab, in real numbers that people on the business side will appreciate.”
The next step for Lionbridge is a two-phase beta deployment with internal users that will last two to three months. During the first phase, managers with new projects will use this beta installation of the portal to practice onboarding new projects and become familiar with the types of information they will need to provide to make sure the project environment is provisioned properly. During the second phase, IT staff will work with managers of existing projects to determine the best way to bring those projects into the new system.

As part of the beta deployment, Lionbridge is focusing on user education around the changes to processes. IT staff are preparing internal training and blogs to teach project managers how to utilize the new tools for requesting private cloud resources. “Compared to the old system, I think our users will find this much easier,” says Flynn. “They can work at their own pace, without someone standing over them, and let their own natural inquisitiveness guide them through the process. Once they get their first project up and running in the cloud, I think they’ll be excited to work on the next one. The portal will allow us to publish answers to frequently asked questions on specifications that managers must consider as they request infrastructure for their private cloud, ensuring their experience will be consistent and repeatable as they adopt more projects”
By adding the Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager Self Service Portal 2.0 to its private cloud infrastructure, Lionbridge is simplifying its internal IT processes, making new system onboarding easier for both users and administrators, and improving service for customers. By reducing administration overhead, Lionbridge is able to save time and money.

Streamlined IT Management
Lionbridge is simplifying the management of its private cloud environment by establishing a standard format for requesting project resources. “The portal is helping us show our project managers exactly what information we need to correctly provision resources for their projects,” says Flynn. “And making sure we get exactly the information we need means we don’t have to try to interpret what they intended or try to track them down for clarification. Managers using the environment will also appreciate a consistent process and an accelerated implementation cycle as a result.”

Simplified User Processes
Lionbridge began making system provisioning easier for users when it adopted the user portal from System Center Virtual Machine Manager, and the company has made the process even simpler with the System Center Virtual Machine Manager Self Service Portal 2.0. “The portal will help us shelter users from details they don’t need to know,” says Flynn. “By giving everyone a simple, repeatable way to bring new projects onboard, we let them worry less about the technical terminology and more about the resource needs of the project.”

Enhanced Customer Service
By improving the efficiency of the IT infrastructure, Lionbridge is realizing cost savings that can be used to enhance the company’s offerings to customers. “Ultimately, customers will see that we can now better support an environment that’s up and running 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” explains Flynn. “With System Center, we can scale our environment up and down faster and get more projects into the cloud. On very complex projects, we can build a highly secure portal for the customer so they can log in and work directly with our teams.”

Improved Resource Tracking
Lionbridge is investing in the latest tools so that it can make the most of its private cloud infrastructure. In addition to increasing efficiency through simplified and standardized processes, the company is spending much less than it would have with older technology. “The toolkit is helping us to understand exactly where and how our resources are being utilized,” says Flynn. “We’re so much more efficient now, and we’re saving a lot of money compared to what we would have spent just two years ago.”

1 comentario:

Pierre dijo...

The "network of 85,000 independent language and content specialists in more than 100 countries" to which you refer are always exploited, often based in India or China (i.e. either their traget langage is not their mother tongue, or they are completly cut from their mother tongue) and sometimes frankly incompetent.

Something that Lionbridge does not mention is that localization's success is dependent on the quality of the work these 85,000 independent language and content specialists deliver. But quality comes at a price, and since Lionbridge is not prepare to pay for that price, it is hard to imagine that the work matches any benchmark quality standards...

If you want to know more about Lionbridge's crowdscorning technics check the following :