Native Instruments builds a highly robust and reliable open-source infrastructure for its 450+ employees—at a cost far less than commercial solutions.
Native Instruments is a leading manufacturer of software and hardware for computer-based audio production and DJing. The company's mission is to develop innovative, fully-integrated solutions for all musical styles and professions. The resulting products regularly push technological boundaries and open up new creative horizons for professionals and amateurs alike.
Native Instruments sees itself as a part of a vibrant international music scene, and its 450+ employees are in constant communication with artists whose feedback is integrated into the conception and continuous improvement of its products.
Daniel Wedewardt, director of IT at Native Instruments is responsible since 10 years for all the company’s operational IT infrastructure at the Berlin headquarter and all international offices in Los Angeles, Tokyo, London, Paris, and Shenzhen. Not only does he oversee all the employee’s workplaces - each including a phone, a monitor and a PC workstation - but also is he responsible for the entire network, the server rooms, and the data center. Currently, Wedewardt is responsible for a team of 13 employees. Half of the team, all being Linux generalists, are responsible for the entire hardware, virtualization, high availability, data bases, PBX, IT security, network, and the data centers.
Efficient resource utilization, high availability and security with virtualization
Virtualization started to become important at Native Instruments more than 10 years ago. At that time it was already clear that loads of electricity and space would have to be wasted until fulfilling the company's high requirements for a diverse system and service landscape with dedicated hardware. To prevent this, and with regard to efficient resource utilization combined with high availability and security, it was clear at an early stage that the company had to virtualize their infrastructure.
Building a scalable, robust and reliable infrastructure with Proxmox VE
“In search of the right solution we have been evaluating various platforms for the past ten years,” said Daniel Wedewardt. “As open source enthusiasts with a tight budget we first tried vServer. Later on we started working with VMware ESX and Parallels. Since 2011, however, we are using Proxmox VE. The reason why we chose Proxmox was that a new colleague joining us at that time presented the solution to us and I remember the whole team being enthusiastic immediately. PVE uses standardized technologies, is well maintained, and open source. Important points for the Linux and open source enthusiasts among us.”
“We first implemented a two node Proxmox VE cluster, then established a DRBD-master-master sync between the two nodes, and finally installed our first VMs for testing. After running the setup for some time and after testing plenty of possible failover scenarios we felt confident enough to move production VMs to our cluster. Step by step we added additional cluster nodes and finally rolled out the setup to our other offices.”
“From the beginning on we really loved the user interface of Proxmox VE as well as the live migration feature. Thanks to those features we could ensure an almost uninterrupted operation—but at a fraction of the cost of its commercial counterparts.” Daniel Wedewardt
High-end features on commodity hardware
“Nothing has changed fundamentally in our setup since then. Today we mainly run our initial system setup without fundamental changes, we simply scaled out. We have much more cluster nodes now and of course also the hosted VMs increased accordingly. Despite all the growth the core setup hasn’t changed much. In terms of hardware we only use commodity hardware for budget reasons. We are a stable, independent and constantly growing company built without venture capital therefore each euro we spend has to be earned first via our product sales.”
Support subscription for the business-critical production systems
Thanks to Proxmox VE and the DRBD/pacemaker setup, Daniel Wedewardt and his team could establish a highly robust and reliable infrastructure—at a cost far less than commercial solutions. Native Instruments also rely on the commercial Proxmox VE subscription service. Daniel Wedewardt explains why: “There is a really fantastic community behind the Proxmox VE project always providing help, but it was clear to us that professional support provides even more security—especially if you have business-critical systems running in a production cluster. It helps us sleep more calmly.”
Director of IT, Native Instruments