Data Centre Consolidation/Upgrade/Refresh Project of the Year
After a considerable effort to split the Liverpool Victoria (LV=) General lines business, after its sale to Allianz, LV was running over 6 months behind on a DC migration needing completion prior to Data centre redevelopment and DC hosting contract expiry in March 2021. Heavyweight command and control, programme leadership and DC migration experience was required, LV selected CloudStratex (CSX) to assist as LV’s delivery partner alongside it’s infrastructure service partner, WiPro. CSX worked with LV and their incumbent suppliers to accelerate and de-risk the programme and drive the correct level of diligence and control across multiple vendors and internal teams. Migration events were executed throughout a 24 hour 7 day week. This required astute command and control, risk management, detailed planning, execution, testing and business collaboration, to effectively deliver this programme. With the dedicated support of LV's infrastructure partner, Wipro, providing the majority of the implementation both the Data Centre migration, and the final exit was delivered successfully by the 3 organisations. CSX provided coordination function, Wipro, the execution of the migration. What makes this successful delivery even more remarkable is that nobody ever met face-to-face due to the pandemic. The data centre exit was completed on time, on budget, at the end March, also encompassing a highly accelerated plan to move to a new platform as a prioritised part of the migration to mitigate a multi-million-pound potential cost, this was all achieved successfully. A combined effort from LV Business, LV Technology, CSX & Wipro, all coming together to work as one (which was the real secret).
What was the driving force behind the project – what business or technology challenge needed to be addressed?
• Data Centre redevelopment and imminent co-hosting contract expiry providing a hard deadline for the migration
• Platform migration requiring acceleration to mitigate a significant 7 figure license risk
• A variety of suppliers not fully engaged and directed properly
• A lack of capability strength within LV due to decoupling business
• New technology platforms being implemented in a blank canvas data centre.
• Challenging technology platform requiring specialist assistance
• Significant IT capability was removed as part of organisation split
• Hardware was new, legacy servers transferred as is onto new hardware
• Storage re-baselined and significantly reduced to streamline migration effort, risk and target capacity requirement
• Migration links not providing independent full resilience.
How did the solution address the challenges and where there any particularly innovative aspects that made it stand out?
• Partner delivery mechanism ensuring LV/CSX/WiPro combined leadership could drive inter-partner activities and ensure any friction removed swiftly and effectively
• Programme leadership to drive migration programme on a backdrop of previous industrial strength experience
• Command & Control function built to run an Air Traffic Control across business, technical, partner and testing teams to drive a precision-led activity plan allowing a much higher level of risk and volume to be accepted per migration event
• Deep dive storage rationalisation to rectify the baseline then target reductions across multiple areas including orphaned volumes, backup and snapshots, re-tiering and data retention.
What major challenges were faced during the project and how were they overcome?
• 1350 servers, 300 applications to be planned, migrated and 1500 thorough tests in less than 5 months
• Meticulous planning, full transparency of risks, event driven approach
• Establish an “as is” status in the source data centres
• Establish an inventory of all “as is” data assets
• Create a clear and comprehensive catalogue of what is to be migrated and what can be deleted to allow enrichment of the CMDB
• Create a timebound migration plan based on grouping the build into manageable tranches
• Migration traffic was passed over dedicated 10GB cross site links, which, in effect, created a 4 Data Centre temporary build
• Targets for decommissioning were identified during the migration phase. A significant number of physical servers also had to be physically moved to the new Data Centres
• Clear and controlled decision making during migration event issues allowing resolution in a timely manner.
What tangible benefits has the organisation seen as a result of the project’s implementation?
• Successful migration successfully avoiding millions of additional costs through Data Centre extension/delay costs and license exposure
• Successful migration avoiding huge and potentially high impact business disruption
• Improved reputation for the Technology function in the organisation.
• Improved relationships with partners
• Now have complete inventory of applications and assets
• This is enabling LV to move from a fixed base consumption model to a variable model
• Also allows LV to show the business what their true costs are and what they are consuming
• Having touch all applications and infrastructure, LV now know all the main Technology risks
• This has allowed them to build a long term plan to identify where investments need to be prioritised. The execution had been carefully planned with the business, ensuring the business change programme wasn’t impacted
• During and after execution, due to the detailed execution of tests, this resulted in minimal disruption to the business.