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Migration Solutions consolidates Paymentshield's four data centres to be under one roof...

Environmental Angle - Paymentshield will be looking at saving £6,500 on electricity and around 50 tonnes of CO2 a year. By virtualising the current planned servers (42 of them) they will be cutting out electrical costs and carbon footprint by 76%.

Data Centre Angle - Michael Long of Migration Solutions comments, “Many believe that it is necessary to ‘sit on top of their data’, this is predominant in particular amongst the financial services industry. Yet in the last five years we have supported more and more organisations as they open data centres in the North and North West of the UK. These organisations have realised that a mixture of comparatively low real estate costs and great access to power, space and connectivity to carriers is making the North and North West a viable and in fact, attractive alternative to London.

If organisations aren’t proactively asking us to build or consolidate their data centres to the North and North West we suggest that they do this and the suggestion is usually accepted. We didn’t think anything of Paymentshield wanting their new data centre to be built in their historic location of Southport – it made sense in all areas.

London is quickly running out of space and power. Even those financial organisations that do require synchronous replication of their data don’t need to sit on top of their data. The perception is outdated and many organisations are already migrating north to harness the opportunities and space and power.”

Photographs available


When 95% of your business is directly e-traded over the internet between 30,000 intermediaries and your own servers, moving the data centre cannot be described as anything other than ‘business critical’. However, this is precisely the challenge that Paymentshield faced when it moved its team of 300 staff and data centres from four existing sites into a new, purpose-built, head office in Southport.

Paymentshield is the largest independent supplier of general insurance products to the mortgage intermediary sector and ranked by The Sunday Times as one of the UK’s top 100 Fastest Growing Companies in 2006. The company’s IT Director, Eamonn Kennedy, was responsible for the move. “I needed to drive plans for the whole of the new head office from a technology point of view, and so I brought in Migration Solutions, the data centre and computer room specialists, to advise and project manage the data centre aspects of the re-location.”

As a result, the migration of Paymentshield’s servers, along with the installation of new communications technology and decommissioning of the old sites, was achieved without significant incident, all over a single weekend. Since the move, the use of Migration Solutions’ external expertise has been singled out as a key ‘lesson learnt’ in a review by Paymentshield’s management team.

One of the benefits they cited was that it gave them the opportunity to focus on the many other aspects of the office relocation, including the layout and design of the new offices and detailed contingency planning around the move for the business. According to Kennedy, “Migration Solutions’ management of the data centre migration gave us ‘time’ for these issues. Moving offices provided the opportunity to change our working culture as well as our office address, and our confidence in their management of the data centre migration enabled us to concentrate on getting other aspects of the move right as well. The result? Our people love their new building and it has stimulated a positive new atmosphere across the company,” said Kennedy.

In addition to minimising downtime, while the servers were moved to the new location, Paymentshield wanted to use the opportunity of the migration to introduce a new VOIP network and telephony system. The impact of this was two-fold, explained Migration Solutions’ project manager, Mike Long: “We needed to take account of the impact of this technology on the new data centre, particularly its location, power and connection requirements, as well as identify the redundant elements in the old locations to be decommissioned.”

Having Migration Solutions’ expertise on-site throughout the migration proved to be a prudent move for Paymentshield, in one case Mike spotted a mis-charge in the decommissioning fees submitted by a communication provider which saved close to £64,000. “A data centre move affects us perhaps every five years. However, for Migration Solutions, data centre migration is their ‘business-as-usual’. Their consultants and project managers are attuned to the latest development and practices, and, as they are independent, they pass the benefits of knowledge back to the client,” said Kennedy.

Migration Solutions has been directly involved in the project management of over one million ft2 of data centre build and has developed a methodology for migrations from planning thorough to specification of the new data centre and the implementation of the migration itself. “We call this the Passport scheme,” explains Long. “Every item in the data centre is individually documented and its destination, rack location, power and connectivity requirements and dependencies are logged. This gives us the opportunity to plan-out potential problems even before anything is moved to the new data centre.”

Paymentshield also commissioned Migration Solutions to design the data centre, including the full specification of the fit out, from the cabling to the server racks. Migration Solutions’ consultants and project managers have direct operational experience of data centres which informs their designs and, as Paymentshield’s Kennedy noted, “it gives them the knowledge and authority to drive the many contractors who are necessarily involved in these kinds of projects until the job is done to Migration Solutions’ own, very high, standards of satisfaction.”

The benefits of this approach became apparent very quickly to Paymentshield. “We switched off the servers one Friday at 5.30pm and by midnight that evening we were taking e-trades which were queued until the back office was opened on Sunday,” says Kennedy. “We had scheduled an entire day for User Acceptance and testing. However this went so well that it was concluded in a couple of hours and everything was ready for our staff when they returned to work, in the new head office, at 8am on the following Monday morning. In fact, I was able to disband the project team a few weeks later and return my team to business-as-usual mode.”

Following Migration Solutions’ project management and consultancy on the migration, design and implementation of the new data centre, Michael Long has remained to conclude a final project to document the new data centre’s operations and processes. “The new site has allowed us to set best practice in data centre operations and I want to build these processes into the business,” says Kennedy. “This will see ITIL–compliant levels of service management, including an IT service desk, change management of infrastructure, staffing change requests and self service web request. Beyond a successful migration of the data centre, I now want to use Migration Solutions’ expertise to help me embed new levels of service from the new site.”

- Ends -

Paymentshield Data Centre Project Spec:

Capacity for Future Growth

Paymentshield required a new data centre in their new, purpose-built, head office in Southport, to accommodate equipment racks from several existing facilities and bring the functionality in-line with current normal data centre best practice.

Anticipating Power & Cooling Requirements

The new data centre required Computer Room Air Conditioning (CRAC) units, UPS, to accommodate an initial requirement of four racks and create the maximum space available for additional racks. Migration Solutions designed the new facility based on a power rating of 1500 W/m2, in line with the trend towards more powerful processors with higher power consumptions. The server installation was planned to reduce the risk of hotspots and make use of blanking plates on unused rack spaces to ensure cool air passes through equipment. The new data centre required a cooling density of 1500 W/m2.

For more information: Rebecca Jones / VP Communications / 020 8964 0260

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