PrintPlanet.de is the online branch of a medium-sized, owner-managed digital printing company. It was one of the first interactive web-to-print services in Germany when it was founded in 2001. Today, the group employs 120 people and has a product portfolio that ranges from photo gifts, such as personalized mugs and t-shirts, to business cards and corporate brochures. Headquartered in Garbsen near Hannover, PrintPlanet has over a million private customers and serves a further 1,000 commercial clients on a separate business platform (www.printplanet-business.de).
Having successfully thwarted multiple attempted distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks on its online shops, PrintPlanet was becoming all too aware of the growing threat it faced on the internet. At the same time, it was pouring evermore resources into its services in order to keep them secure. "The bigger we became, the more time we spent on preventing attacks," says Thomas Demann, General Manager of IT at PrintPlanet, commenting on the urgent need for action, which he identified in June 2017. To ensure that it could keep dedicating enough time to developing its core business, the web-to-print service wanted to work with a specialist to take care of both the security of vital customer data, and the performance of its website.
PrintPlanet wanted its new IT partner to assume responsibility for protecting its web servers since, at the time, this was the IT department’s most time-consuming task. It also wanted scalable server capacity, so that performance bottlenecks could be avoided during seasonal peaks in demand, such as at Christmas. This is a significant cost factor for many companies, which often feel its impact when they invest in expensive server capacity, only for it to remain unused for most of the year. Besides looking for a partner with expertise in the areas of performance and security, PrintPlanet was seeking an all-round solution that could be implemented quickly and would meet the requirements of its web-to-print service. "Akamai was the best fit for our needs," recalls Demann.
PrintPlanet hosts its site with PlusServer GmbH, which has been a Platinum Partner in Akamai’s NetAlliance Partner Program for many years. So, when PrintPlanet explained its need for security and performance, PlusServer didn’t hesitate to recommend Akamai – a one-stop solution that could be provided under the PlusServer umbrella.
Akamai's Web Application Protector is an easy-to-manage, all-in-one cloud-based solution that combines a web application firewall with protection against DDoS attacks. The solution is also integrated into Akamai’s Intelligent Platform, meaning that it offers a high level of scalability and performance.
With Web Application Protector, inquiries sent to PrintPlanet are initially inspected by Akamai's servers, which only forward on legitimate user requests. This means that the solution is designed to foil attacks before they can reach the client's infrastructure. Thanks to the additional integration of Akamai FastDNS, IP address translation also takes place in the cloud, allowing DNS spoofing or manipulation to be thwarted in good time. Additionally, Web Application Protector is very transparent for its users. Thanks to the real-time visualization feature, PrintPlanet can monitor network lists and file or web server manipulation attempts (file inclusion). "While the filters ensure that a high level of protection is provided as standard, they also allow us to define our own rules, such as blacklists, for individual cases," explains Demann.
The Akamai solution also supports PrintPlanet in complying with the reporting requirements of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). In the event of a data breach, PrintPlanet is able to report the incident to the supervisory authority within 72 hours and, with the help of data provided by Akamai, can provide the evidence to help support its position that its protective measures are adequate. Moreover, when it comes to the performance bottlenecks that occur as a result of seasonal peaks in traffic, PrintPlanet benefits from Akamai's scalable and high-performance infrastructure with a 100% availability SLA. This is thanks to the Intelligent Platform, which can provide additional server capacity on the fly to meet demand.
Web Application Protector is a security solution for SMEs that stands out for its low maintenance requirements and simple installation. Although an Akamai representative was on-site during the set-up process, Demann was able to install the system himself. Virtually no changes were needed to PrintPlanet's in-house infrastructure. "Everything was up and running within less than two weeks," sums up Demann. What's more, the staff in the IT department will now be able to focus on their key projects again.
PrintPlanet GmbH is a medium-sized, owner-managed company headquartered in Garbsen near Hannover. As an online branch and subsidiary of a full-service digital printing company, PrintPlanet.de offers a wide range of value-added photographic products (e.g. photo advent calendars), personalized textiles and large-format prints. PrintPlanet.de has been online since 2001 and was one of the first interactive web-to-print sites in Germany.
PlusServer is the market leader in managed hosting in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. The company draws on its comprehensive product portfolio, which is optimized for the needs of SMEs and large corporations alike, to develop customized hosting and cloud solutions.