This announcement is applicable to all clients and includes important information about the month ahead and a planned data centre move. All of our UK based equipment will be moved out of TelecityRedbus Sovereign House to a new facility less than a mile away (still within London Docklands) at Greenwich
The move is due to a number of significant events that have taken place during the last year (and are set to continue into the future) with Redbus.
1. TelecityRedbus merger
With the merge of Telecity and Redbus this has brought massive price increases (approx 400%) along with a reduction in service. Since the merge, the number of on site engineers has been scaled down which has led to increased waits in the event that remote hands are required. With Telecity continuing to expand with their purchase of Globix, another round of price increases and staff reductions are expected. In addition, TelecityRedbus are unwilling to commit to contract terms longer than a few months which is not ideal for long term business planning.
2. Expansion space
The existing Redbus sites are pretty much at full capacity and additional space is at a minimum. Furthermore, any space that is available is priced extremely high since the merger which makes it impossible for us to continue to grow without passing on price increases to our own clients. Up to now we have soaked up the increase in our costs but with this set to continue we're unable to continue soaking up the increases without taking action. In order to continue growing we need to be able to secure additional space without 6 or 12 month waiting lists or by having to spread our equipment between different buildings.
3. Power policies
Since the TelecityRedbus merger they have introduced new policies with regard to the amount of power that can be configured for each rack which has resulted in us not being able to get anywhere near to the ideal capacity of a colocation rack before the power usage limit is reached. The latest limit per rack at TelecityRedbus is 8 amps which is enough to power approx 10 servers (this is in a full rack capacble of physically housing 40 1U machines). At the new facility all racks will have 16 amp as standard with further upgrade options which will allow us to continue getting the most from our colocation rackspace.
To summarise, if we were to continue at Redbus we would be paying 3-4 times more per colo rack, with 3 times less servers able to go in the rack, with decreasing amount of remote hands coverage. In addition, with the low contract times, prices could increase and policies change for the worse (as we have seen several times within the last year) at any point.
At this point I wish to stress that this decision is not solely based on our costs. We have always focussed our own services on high quality and have the same in mind when seeking our own upstream providers but to continue at Redbus it would be impossible to continue offering the same quality and the same prices and we would have no option but to increase prices which is something we are keen to avoid.
When is the move happening?
All equipment will be moved on the nights of the 17th and 18th November 2006. The work will be done in a series of 'batches' whereby the equipment will be split and done in different stages making sure one batch is fully functional at the new facility before starting on the next. The first batch of each night will start at 11pm and 2.5 hours is scheduled for each batch to be complete before the next will be started with the last batch of each night ending at 5am.
Please note that 2.5 hours downtime per batch is the absolute maximum and if all goes to plan, downtime shouldn't exceed half of this amount. At this point we do not have specific schedules for each server and this information will be provided closer to the time. It is recommended that all clients subscribe to our helpdesk announcements to be kept informed of the specific times and batch information.
How will it be done?
A specialist server relocation company is being brought in to handle the moving of equipment. There will be a 13-man team of qualified technicians on site performing the power downs, packing (all equipment will be packed in bubblewrap), moving and everything else associated with the work.
This company has years of experience in work like this and have performed many successful moves, including work for companies such as Barclays to ensure that everything goes to plan with no problems. We are aware, as some clients probably are, that there have been some high profile cases of data centre moves at other hosting companies going wrong and involving a lot more downtime than planned, damaged equipment and things of this nature.
We would like to assure everyone that all measures have been taken to ensure that absolutely everything goes to plan with our move and remind all clients that a great deal of data centre migrations happen without any kind of problem but generally we don't get to hear about these as they aren't as newsworthy :)
What is the new facility like?
Every aspect of the physical infrastructure of the new facility is of either equal or better quality than the current facilities at TelecityRedbus so there will be absolutely zero drop in facility standard (actually the opposite). In addition, the new facility has the provisons for building solid brick walls around certain areas of the data floor for additional security (and heat protection) as opposed to Redbus where metal cages are used instead. Along with the solid walls between suites, the new facility allows for dedicated air conditioning and fire detection/suppresion equipment per block which means that we will not be solely reliant on the data centre's facilities in this area.
Will servers be required to move again in future?
No. A major part in this is the fact that multi-year, fixed price contracts are now an option which allows for long term planning and security. The situation at Redbus is such that contracts longer than 3 months are not possible which allows for a whole series of short notice price increases into the future.
What is the network like?
There are no changes being made to the network in any way, shape or form (apart from the physical location of the equipment). All the same bandwidth providers, equipment, IP addresses and everything else will continue to be used which will mean that the excellent network uptime we have experienced since day one will continue into the future.
I should point out that both the new facility and Redbus, are carrier neutral. This means that those colocating in the buildings handle their own network without this being provided by the building. This effectively means that a provider in one cage will have a completely different network setup (and often quality) than a different provider just a few metres away. Therefore the building a company has servers in (when dealing with carrier neutral facilities) has absolutely no bearing on the quality of network of that company and with our high quality network providing high uptime so far, this will continue at the new facility with no change.
Will there be any changes in performance after the move?
Only positive changes due to us being able to continue growth at the same high quality we have provided so far. In fact, were it not for this announcement and the downtime involved, there is nothing that will imply that this work has been done as the servers are all staying the same, network unchanged, traceroutes identical, etc.
I hope that the information provided in this announcement has calmed the nerves of anyone who panicked on reading the words "data centre move" and assured everyone that this is a positive step forward in our growth and continuing provision of high quality hosting services.
If anyone has any questions or concerns, feel free to contact us.
Richard Wraith MD
The planned datacentre move was completed successfully last night with our last server coming back online just after 4am sunday morning. Everything went according to plan and we managed to stay within our maximum allocated downtime estimate on both nights.
Thursday, November 2, 2006