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The move to hyper-converged infrastructure (Part 2)

In the first part of this article, we described Kroll Ontrack’s opportunity and decision to leverage a hyper-converged infrastructure as the foundation for its data center relocation project in the United Kingdom. The project needed to be successfully completed within a one-year timeframe. Today’s article focuses on how Kroll Ontrack’s IT team delivered successfully on the project.

First, Kroll Ontrack established a strong project team that included, at times, nearly 100 Kroll Ontrack IT specialists from its global IT ecosystem. When endeavoring on such a complex, large-scale project, tapping into the breadth of knowledge was essential to developing the detailed project plan and identifying all the moving pieces. Input was received from IT architecture, IT project management, IT systems analysts and database administrators, engineering, information security and operations.

Here are the essential milestones involved in a data center relocation project:

  1. Choose and negotiate the terms for the new data center provider
  2. Choose vendors to provide compute, storage and network infrastructure
  3. Get the new kit onsite
  4. Test the chosen hardware platform to make sure that it can handle the workload
  5. Migrate the data onto the new hardware platform
  6. Relocate the hardware to the new location and to put in operation
  7. Switch the “live” operation to the new location
  8. Shut down the old hardware
  9. Securely delete the data and dispose of the old hardware

Kroll Ontrack spent several months evaluating and negotiating terms for the new data center provider and ultimately selecting Nutanix as our vendor. Thereafter, Kroll Ontrack slated six months to complete the rest of the relocation plan.

The migration challenge

By February 2016, Kroll Ontrack Engineering was engaged to help assess the performance of Kroll Ontrack applications on the new servers.  In every meaningful test, it was shown that the Nutanix Enterprise Cloud Platform solution met or outperformed all defined requirements. This was a great start.

Moving data from the old system onto the new system was a challenging part of the relocation project. Kroll Ontrack decided to use a new and specialized software solution from Zerto for the replication and migration of the applications. Zerto software is typically used to ensure IT resilience between data centers. Kroll Ontrack saw an opportunity to use Zerto to migrate all of the applications on the old kit to the Nutanix kit. This approach allowed the VMs to run in production while data was replicated with zero impact in the background.

Original projections for the migration project came in at 240 days, which meant not meeting target deadline. As a result, Kroll Ontrack architects and engineers from both Nutanix Services and Zerto put their heads together to devise a solution that resulted in lowering the total project time to just 40 days.

Keeping clients informed

Keeping clients informed about the impact to them is crucial for the success of a complex project like this. In advance of the relocation, Kroll Ontrack executed an extensive customer communication campaign advising clients of the future change of the IP address and notifying them of the move. Communications clearly outlined the details that impacted clients and included instruction around any necessary changes to ensure they had access to their data without interruption.

For any of you Star Wars fans, you will be pleased to know that the actual “lift and shift” of the new Nutanix systems occurred on May 4, 2016 (Star Wars Day) and the Force was definitely with the team! On that day, seven racks of equipment loaded with all copied data were securely transferred to the new data center – all data remained in sync with the old data center.

For the month following the transfer, Kroll Ontrack’s IT team synchronized data between old and new systems, continuously testing and validating the accuracy and effectiveness of the relocation. To minimize impact on the global client base, the “physical” relocation took place over the long U.K. Spring Bank Holiday and the U.S. Memorial Day weekend at the end of May 2016. Zerto automation and orchestration capabilities were started, and 12 hours later all applications had been successfully moved from the old kit to the new Nutanix environment.

Success!

The combined efforts of Kroll Ontrack IT experts, engineers and project management specialists resulted in an enormously successful outcome. Applications and content are located and securely stored in the new hyper-converged environment with excellent results.

Picture copyright: Kroll Ontrack

 

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