Learn how GRASS-MERKUR, a major player in German data center services, reduced their service costs by half by implementing FishOS – Integrated Solution designed with Vespertec’s hardware.


Imagine hardware and software in a single bundle that saves funds and time through rapid deployment, and eliminates the need for multiple tenders. This all is the essence of the Integrated Solution by Sardina Systems – pre-configured FishOS with hardware from trusted partners.

Dive into the case study to discover how this new market approach was successfully implemented, and explore strategies for integrating it into your infrastructure to streamline processes and optimize IT budgets.

Decoding GRASS-MERKUR’s Needs

Based in Germany, GRASS-MERKUR is an innovative IT service company providing comprehensive support in Data Center Services, Consulting, and Software Development. With its own ISO 27001-certified data center in Hanover, the company delivers a spectrum of services including collocation, managed, and cloud services. This data center fully meets cloud security and data privacy regulations, while innovative technologies help reduce energy consumption.

The company also allows customers to become fully carbon-neutral by offering a 100% CO2-free hydropower energy supply option. GRASS-MERKUR serves clients across various industries, including finance, insurance, healthcare, and automotive companies.

In 2022 the company confronted the limitations of their existing 8-nodes Nutanix-based infrastructure: the most significant one was the announcement of the discontinuation of the OpenStack drivers. GRASS-MERKUR leadership started to look for a scalable, cost-effective solution aligned with their open-source ethos and deep expertise in OpenStack.

“Our previous system fell short in terms of cost-effectiveness and capacity for further business growth, compelling us to seek a new solution that could rapidly deploy a production-ready cloud platform while ensuring multi-tenancy and segregated spaces for diverse client needs”.

Markus Dietz, Head of Business Development & Sales at GRASS-MERKUR

FishOS – Integrated Solution Essence

GRASS-MERKUR’s detailed requirements found a perfect match in Sardina Systems’ expertise and the recently released Integrated Solution concept.

TheIntegrated Solution seamlessly combines FishOS, an innovative cloud management software built on OpenStack, Kubernetes, and Ceph, pre-built on reliable hardware and ensuring unparalleled efficiency and performance. This comprehensive solution is designed to slash cloud expenses by up to 40%, offering businesses a cost-effective and ready-to-be-delivered cloud infrastructure.

The offering comes in three customizable packages, allowing clients like GRASS-MERKUR to select the ideal combination of servers, memory, storage, and network specifications.

For GRASS-MERKUR, FishOS emerged as the optimal platform. Besides being open source based, it has unique features like the ML-enabled Workload Manager and Health Manager to meet the client’s specific needs.

Tailoring Solution with Vespertec

The journey to finding the perfect hardware partner led to Vespertec – a UK-based company, specializing in the design, configuration, delivery, and support of open, high-performance data center infrastructure. Their commitment to efficient communication, transparent pricing, and prompt delivery made them the ideal collaborator for GRASS-MERKUR’s needs.

In collaborating closely with Vespertec’s team, our goal was to streamline the process for the client by assessing their needs and recommending the optimal hardware and configuration solution. As GRASS-MERKUR had specific design preferences, Vespertec focused on technical validation and swiftly presented various commercial options for evaluation.

Vespertec’s full-service offering begins with a comprehensive cluster design phase, ensuring customers receive the best-fit solution for their requirements. Factors such as the server manufacturer, CPU type, future upgrade possibilities, cooling and density considerations, are all meticulously assessed. Servers undergo a rigorous 24-hour soak test before installation to ensure a smooth deployment.

Both Vespertec and Sardina Systems are community members of The Open Compute Project (OCP), while Vespertec is also an OCP Experience Center provider. FishOS – Integrated Solution is available at rack scale on an OCP Accepted™ infrastructure

In partnership with Vespertec, we have the option to preload the FishOS environment onto servers for enhanced efficiency. This was not necessary for the GRASS-MERKUR project as the operators preferred to handle the installation process themselves. However, Vespertec’s support extended to logistics, customs clearance, and ongoing technical assistance, ensuring a seamless experience for the client from start to finish.

“We understand that finding the right hardware provider involves balancing price, availability, and support – three critical factors in the fast-paced world of IT. Our priority is to cater to our clients’ unique requirements, ensuring seamless delivery and comprehensive support, regardless of geographical location.”

Philip Kaye, Co-Founder and Director at Vespertec

Integrated Solution as a Perfect Fit for GRASS-MERKUR

GRASS-MERKUR found the Integrated Solution by Sardina Systems to be a standout choice, allowing it to maximize cost savings while expanding server utilization and cluster capacity.

While considering various options, including alternative platforms and vendors, they were particularly impressed by Sardina Systems’ expertise, competitive pricing, and the simplicity of the solution.

Deployment Process and Challenges

The deployment of the Integrated Solution for GRASS-MERKUR involved several key stages:

The process introduced additional tasks and called for specific expertise, all of which were effectively managed through collaborative efforts. GRASS-MERKUR’s request for network configuration was one such task. Sardina Systems’ team exclusively designed and conducted in a prompt manner a series of workshops on network design to ensure proper infrastructure preparation. Although these workshops were not obligatory for system deployment, the customer’s proactive engagement greatly facilitated the process, leading to optimal management overall.

Migrating virtual machines from old infrastructure was not an easy task as well. GRASS-MERKUR and Sardina Systems collaborated to prepare automated relocation scripts in advance to streamline the process.

“Our network policies are stringent. Deep discussions with Sardina Systems’ technical team were invaluable in understanding communication needs and network requirements, ensuring meticulous preparation without extra charges. No other companies offer such a service”.

Johannes NöthHead of Managed Services & Cloud Services at GRASS-MERKUR

In terms of deployment, GRASS-MERKUR opted to handle software configuration internally due to their extensive expertise in the field.

Empowering Results and Benefits

GRASS-MERKUR’s transition to the Integrated Solution marked a significant advancement in their operational efficiency. With a new cluster of 30 nodes running on Yoga on AlmaLinux9, their system’s capacity increased by more than 4 times compared to the previous 8-nodes system.

This transformative solution not only met the client’s demands for scalability and multi-tenancy but also delivered substantial cost savings. By eliminating the need for additional software licenses and providing hardware at competitive prices, GRASS-MERKUR realized a remarkable 50% reduction in cloud infrastructure expenses. Moreover, a unified agreement streamlined bureaucratic processes, simplifying both software licensing and hardware procurement.

“With the Integrated Solution, we only pay Sardina Systems for services and support, without extra costs for additional software. The hardware provided at a competitive price allowed significant energy savings of 10-15% compared to our previous setup”.

Johannes Nöth, Head of Managed Services & Cloud Services at GRASS-MERKUR

In addition, Integrated Solution enhanced the customer’s virtual machine performance, improving the experience for end-users. Modern hardware utilization also contributed to approximately 10% lower energy consumption.

“Embracing Sardina System’s solutions aligns with GRASS-MERKUR’s strategic focus on cloud services. This partnership enables us to concentrate on our core business of guiding customers through their cloud strategy, ensuring continued growth and success in the future”.

Johannes Nöth, Head of Managed Services & Cloud Services at GRASS-MERKUR

The Integrated Solution use case for GRASS-MERKUR has won Cloud Project of the Yearat the prestigious DCS Awards 2024, where the winner was chosen by public vote.

Allison Price