by Mark May

Carbonite Saves $100k per Month With A New Data Center Project

I recently had the chance to speak with Carbonite about a datacenter migration effort they undertook in late 2014. It’s important to understand that a datacenter migration is about more than the movement of software or data, but a true relocation effort for every of a datacenter to a new physical location. Given the recent adoption of virtualization and cloud computing it is something difficult to remember what its like to physical move baremetal servers. It is a long a complicate process with many pitfalls and perils. It takes careful planning and extreme attention to detail.

Of course no organization randomly decides to up and move datacenters.  They choose to make the move for many reasons. Often, as is the case with Carbonite, this is motivated by financial needs.  Carbonite had a total of six datacenters all of which were in retail space and were moving to warehouse space to save money.  The larger the facility the more work is needed to successfully orchestrate a move. In the case of Carbonite they we moving nearly 700 servers which included nearly 40,000 hard disk drives.  All in the total of all equipment moved weighed 130 tons.

The logistics of physically moving that much equipment cannot be understated and accounts for a lot of the planning phase.  Some important aspects to note are:

  • Documentation
  • Securing the servers and racks in the transportation
  • Traffic
  • Preparing for unexpected failures

The assessment, analysis, and documentation phase of what is being moved is a massive undertaking.  It’s more than just writing down the gear that is moving.  It is important to capture unique information about the environment include what is being hosted, who is the responsible party, where it’s moving from and its final location.  That is just the beginning.  Also needed are port maps of what plugs in where for all cables. This is a daunting task but it can’t be skipped.

Aa semi-truck full of racks and servers will take a huge amount of abuse if not properly secured. One trick is the not move a fully populated rack because it’s much heavier, harder to secure, and has an uneven weight distribution. For massive movers like Carbonite you’ll want a dedicated shipping company who has experience moving computer gear. While we’re on the subject of moving gear lets talk about traffic.  It happens.  Plan accordingly and give yourself plenty of time if you’re under a tight scheduled.

The old adage “Failing to plan is planning to fail” is never truer than during a datacenter move. During one of their moves the trucking company haling equipment had a major breakdown due to a faulty transmission. Luckily they had a team of people involved in the move who were able to come together and work with the trucking company to get another truck on site very quickly. The perils of physically moving a datacenter are many, but with proper planning and hard work you can be successful.

Carbonite main site

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