NetDirect - company that never sleeps and offers 24/7 service to its customers

NetDirect s.r.o. has introduce nonstop servise for their customers, operating 24 hours, 7 days in a week, including weekends and public holidays. In today’s interview we talk to the company’s managing director Ing. Jan Svoboda, who comment on this situation in his own words: "Despite the initial financial and organizational demands, we consider this to be a usefull and effective decision. Customers are significntly happier due to a minimum financial loss assured by quick removal of possible faults even during late hours or hlidays."

Why did you introduce nonstop service?

The main reason was a necessity of fast detection and removal of mistakes, mainly during the night hours, weekends and holidays. At the present, every hour of drop out may cause subtential losses to our client, as most f them process tens to thousands orders every day. We realized the anormous hight of turnover of internet shops we have created and felt responsible for their smooth operation. We felt a slight frissonas we understod that the situation has hanged and, compared to the beginning stage of our business, there are now B2C and B2B solutions generating  billions of dollars yearly.

What kind of mistakes can occur?

Generally, there are three types of mistakes. Firstly, mistakes caused by our programmer, likely to emerge from unexpected combination of operations. Even our people are no machines and these mistakes can happen despite the fact, that we follow a set rules and procedures. Secondly, mistakes could be caused by server failure.  And thirdly, problems could be incurred by the e-shop owner, e.g. by unannouced upgrade of information system, changes in the Firewall settings, interruption in internet connection with the ERP system, or by unxepected data incoming from the information system (e.g. non-defined data types).  

How does the service find out about a mistake?

There are two ways in princyple. We have a fully computerized monitoring system, that has no ability to discover logial mistakes or data mistakes, but it can detect server failures or unusual slowdon of e-shop reaction. In case such signals are sent by the system in a certain tolerant interval, our tecnicians are immeditely advised through SMS. The second step is acquiring information regarding the said mistake directly from the customer.  Every client has designated numbers, he or she can call in case of emergency.

Ukázka jedné z kanceláří v sídle společnosti v Ostravě.
One of our offices at the company headquarts in Ostrava. 

It is important to mention, that the information on mistakes are directed not only on the tchnicians, but olso on administrators, depending on the nature of the mistake. Service technicians (programmers, database specialists) and also administrators can then access the system form any locality via terminal access.

What does the term "critical mistake" mean? 

The clear definition of the term "critical error" is stated in the postiplementation service contract, that has to be signed up by every customer. We talk about a critical error when such an error means a serious hindrance to the shop operation, customers can't make orders and overall, the business is not generated. For example, web pages are not being diplayed, the integration to an information system is not working or there is a serious problem related to the fraphic design of the shop. These errors are considered critical i terms of the contract. Small faults in the design, that could be removed the next working day are, on the other hand, not considered as critical.

How much do the customer need nonstop service?

On average, about four amendments are realized in a month by the overnight and weekend service. More than half of the mistakes are detected by our on people, the rest is reported by the customer. That is a fairly small number considering we operate hundreds of e-shops, 90 % of them integrated with an information system. Nonetheless, imagine a situation,  that a critical erroe appears on Friday evening and ithout this seric, technician would only lern about the error on Monday morning. We would probably loose a desperate client and the client would loose money. In short, nonstop service secures quite nights for us and for our customers.

Are you planning any more changes in the near future?

The most significant step forard in terms of an upgrade and investment (roughly about 3 000 000 CZK) is a purchase of a branded backup technology from HP and CA. This technology allows us to backup even higher data volume more effectively and safely.  These upgrades are revolutionary for faster restoration of e-shops, in case one of our servers generates a fatal error, the repair wok will take too long and it would be necessary to relace it with a backup utility. This technology is extremely important to us as we are running 45 servers at the present and we assume that  this number will double in 2010. Most of our clients use our hosting services as well and it is presumable that this will continue even in the future. Also, many of our bigger clients tend to purchase servers of thir own and then entrust us to run and maintain the servers. This new trend indicates the future development in terms of number of servers and also related backup capacities.

The last, but not the least important advantage of the new technology is an incremental backup gneration, which allows to shorten the backup intervals to a minimum. If then the backup restoration takes place, this retoration will be freh and up to date, contrary to the present situation, when the restoration data could be as old as 24 hours.

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Ing. Jan Svoboda, NetDirect s.r.o. managing director.
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