Consolidating Claranet’s data centre estate

Service providers are continually reviewing their data centre estate so they can offer the best possible service to their customers. This may lead to the expansion, migration or closure of certain data centres.

With the acquisition of Star Technology in late 2012, Claranet more-or-less doubled the number of its data centres. While this certainly enhanced our ability to offer leading edge services the rethink meant it was also right to close down two of our older data centres.

Closing or moving a data centre or IT room is a significant undertaking. Making sure it is carried out effectively is vital as the impact of downtime for many customers can have a massive impact on their business and any of their customers who rely on them.

One of the two data centres we recently closed was a 180 rack suite that Claranet occupied for the last 15 years and which serviced a significant number of customers.

Due to the broad array of services we offered from this facility, relocating represented a significant challenge. Services taken varied from co-location to Ethernet connectivity, from internal cross-connects, to fully outsourced and managed IT solutions so tailored approaches were vital.

We also had to deal with factors like the criticality of IT for the customer’s business when we came to create customer specific migration plans. Some of our customers could only afford a maximum of five minutes of downtime, which is a very short window to work within. In some cases the solution had to be built in parallel in another data centre to accommodate a seamless migration.

The migration was also an opportunity to refresh and upgrade our customers’ services so they were equipped with the latest technology in our most cutting-edge data centres.

Moving data centre requires a real team effort and I was delighted with the way that teams from across the company came together to plan, test and finally execute this project. Some of those involved included our dedicated Project Management, Service Management, Network and Hosting Engineering, Data Centre Operations, and Supplier Management teams.

Most of the migration work was carried out outside business hours to accommodate our customers’ businesses. It’s fair to say that 90% of the effort was spent planning and preparing the migrations. It’s easy to decide to vacate a data centre for strategic reasons, but it’s after this initial decision the hard work begins for both the data centre operator and their customers.

I was pleased with the fact that 99.5% of all migration activities were executed without any issues and that all customers are now housed in state of the art datacentres, in many cases with refreshed hardware and with upgraded services.

Written by Wiebe Nauta - Operations Director

Wiebe has over 20 years’ experience in the Telecommunications and IT services industry. As Claranet’s Operations Director he plays a critical role in managing the entire customer lifecycle experience - from design through implementation and ongoing support for the company’s networking and hosting customers. Wiebe's previous role as Service Operations Director for BT Business encompassed networking, IT and services provisioning for UK businesses.