Our own data centre modernisation (DCM) case study

Recently, we carried out our own data centre modernisation programme at Cloud Direct by migrating many of our existing environments to Azure. We frequently say to our clients that data centre modernisation is the first step if you’re serious about any kind of digital transformation or want to take advantage of big new opportunities like Big Data or IoT, so it’s only right that we share our experience of how it’s gone for us here.

First – what is data centre modernisation

So what exactly is data centre modernisation? It’s a rather vague term that sounds like it could mean a lot of things, but in a nutshell, it’s a way of transforming your existing data centres by using the latest technologies in order to (a) improve your data centre’s technical performance and (b) cater to the emerging business needs of the modern connected age.

By ‘latest technologies’, we exclusively mean the new generation of public cloud services provided by global technology giants, such as Microsoft’s Azure. Put simply, data centre modernisation enables you to connect your own infrastructure with these hugely powerful hyper-scale clouds to achieve previously un-thought possibilities.

Why did we feel we needed to do it?

On one level, it was something of a necessity. We’ve acquired a lot of companies over the last few years, which had left us with 15 different sub-scale data centre infrastructures. Naturally we wanted to reduce our footprint to reduce costs and management complexity. But we also wanted to do more than that. We wanted to speed up and cut the complexity of delivering new value added services to our customers.

How did we manage the migration?

The most important thing to say is that planning and analysis in the pre-migration phase are absolutely critical. As you can see from the illustration below, in our case we included thorough analysis of our existing environment, development of a pre-migration Proof of Concept, and building watertight total cost of ownership and financial models. There are other things you need to do (including testing, synchronisation etc.) during the migration phase to ensure a smooth cutover, but we found that it’s this initial business and technical analysis that’s really key to ensuring your project is a success.

What have we achieved since migration?

Since we completed our data centre modernisation, we’ve achieved significant operational benefits. For a start, we no longer have 15 different data centres to manage! Our IT team isn’t occupied fixing issues with on-premises kit, which also means they are free to work on more strategic projects. Above all though, the big benefit is that we’ve been making use of the incredible performance offered by Azure to rapidly develop and roll out a number of new value added services for our customers. For example ‘My Azure’ our Azure billing portal allows our customers to monitor their spend in real-time, and lets them focus their efforts on further transforming how they deliver their services to ensure innovation is driven by economics. By enabling us to do this, I can honestly say our data centre modernisation project is changing the way we do business for good.

If you’d like to learn more about how data centre modernisation can benefit your business, I’d be happy to take you through what we’ve achieved through our own experience in more detail or carry out a strategy planning session for your business. You can contact me on: will.rowley@clouddirect.net