When it came to overcoming all these challenges in the accelerated timeframe, Gwynne says his company went directly to Sungard AS.
“In my mind, there wasn’t any other choice. We’ve been doing business with Sungard AS for ten years and they’ve never let us down. So, we didn’t really think to go anywhere else, we just saw it as an extension of the services we already had,” confirms Gwynne. “They understood where we were going and what we were doing, so they knew how to bring the right people on board to make it all happen.”
Assembling the team to accelerate the project
As part of the migration project, Severn Trent wanted to move IT assets from the leased facility to Sungard AS’ data center in Hounslow, West London. This would increase the resilience built into the production and recovery environments for the first time. The primary data center would stay in Woking, while the new recovery site would be in Hounslow.
The seven-month project began in May 2020. The Sungard AS account team and migration consultants were joined by a Severn Trent internal team, including Gwynne, enterprise architects, and sponsors from the business operations side of the company. Sungard AS extended the team to include resources from a third-party provider to help manage the complex mix of logistics involved in any data center relocation.
“Sungard AS provided internal resources with the right design expertise and project management skills, along with third-party partners to make the transition as seamless as possible,” Gwynne says. “Having a third-party who knows how to work with Sungard AS to get through all of the checks and balances that need to be done for a successful migration made a massive difference in our ability to meet our December deadline.”
Guiding the migration from start to finish
Working together, Sungard AS guided Severn Trent throughout the project—from planning to cut over and beyond. This included a critical first step: auditing the existing Severn Trent data center to determine project scope. Working onsite, the teams documented all the racks, cables and equipment involved, methodically mapping out what needed to be removed and how they needed to be reconnected for a turnkey migration.
Sungard AS then designed, sized, and reviewed the new resilient environments with Gwynne and his team to provide insight into the steps involved in a complex migration and what the future-state environments would look like.
The effort put into this design work also helped to avoid excess costs. “There was a lot of planning devoted to making sure we were getting the right level of rack density and power,” Gwynne says. “Rather than overspending in buying excess capacity, this helped us to keep costs at a minimum to get more value for our money.”
Once Severn Trent approved the design, Sungard AS project management specialists came on board to oversee the relocation. This involved working with select Sungard AS partners to coordinate the labor, resources and logistics required to decommission and set up the new environment—from how many engineers and trucks would be required, to setting up GPS tracking capabilities to monitor the in-transit process.
Gwynne recognizes the significance of all this upfront work. “Migrating a data center takes more than loading flight boxes in a truck and transporting them to the other end,” he says.
“Based on the audit done at the beginning and planning throughout the process, the relocation team was able to understand the technical details of all of the wiring and equipment and where it needed to go in the new data center. Having all of that mapped out was of massive value for us.”
Flexibility and communication combine to meet deadline
While data center migration is typically done through a series of sequential activities, the looming deadline called for Sungard AS teams to adopt a more agile approach. This meant working in parallel workstreams: While project managers worked to audit the old data center, designers were hard at work on the new data center infrastructure.
All this was done amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, with the team effectively avoiding procurement delays, as well as putting the controls in place to restrict the number of people onsite in each data center to ensure safe social distancing.
Despite the limitations of COVID, and the pending holidays adding pressure to an already demanding schedule, the move was completed in December.
“We were really pushing the timelines for getting this done, but Sungard AS continued to accommodate us throughout the delivery and during the actual move. They were really flexible in terms of working the hours we needed them to throughout the weekend and were in constant contact with us,” Gwynne says. “We also had people in the Sungard AS data center to bring our services back online to make sure they were up and running.”
Constant communication and collaboration, supported by weekly check-in meetings, kept the project on track. “From a communications perspective, everybody was flexible and totally engaged in making sure we were working together as one team throughout the project,” says Gwynne.
We were really pushing the timelines for getting this done, but Sungard AS continued to accommodate us throughout the delivery and during the actual move. They were really flexible in terms of working the hours we needed them to throughout the weekend and were in constant contact with us.