A leading provider of cloud-based human resources services had experienced phenomenal growth and was positioning itself for an initial public offering (IPO).
The company had maintained a startup culture, focusing mostly on its software products and less on the infrastructure that supported it. The company’s products—cloud-based software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications—were housed in two datacenters: the primary datacenter inside the company’s own leased office location, and an offsite disaster-recovery (DR) facility.
The primary datacenter that was located inside the company’s offices had numerous facility-related limitations and issues. Because of consistent growth, the company was also running up against power and cooling capacity constraints in the primary facility, and the DR site’s computing infrastructure was not sufficient to handle a full production load in the event of a major business-continuity event.
With the possibility of an upcoming IPO, potential investors would want to know that the company’s critical systems are highly available, capable of surviving a disaster event, and have the needed capacity for continued growth.
In order to demonstrate itself as a viable, sustainable technological operation committed to the future, the company wanted to initiate a major infrastructure upgrade in accordance with industry best practices. For strategic guidance, the company turned to AIM Consulting.
AIM determined that to satisfy investor and customer concerns as part of the IPO, the company needed to upgrade its datacenter from a Tier 1 to at least a Tier 3 facility, with the following characteristics ideal for major SaaS providers: (1) redundant site infrastructure components with multiple distribution paths for power, Internet, and cooling; (2) availability averaging at least 99.982%; and (3) maintenance performed without downtime.
In upgrading its infrastructure, the company would also need to balance the risk of moving too slowly against moving too fast. Moving too slowly would prolong the risk exposure to a major incident; frustrating investors and endangering the IPO. Transitioning too quickly risked outages and service interruptions, which would damage customer perception and also put a risk to the IPO. Maintaining a sense of urgency that satisfied investors while moving with caution would require careful planning.
An AIM Consulting Solutions Director and consultants with high proficiency in datacenter strategy and migration expediently assessed and analyzed the client’s systems and organization and provided the client with three comprehensive datacenter upgrade options complete with a detailed financial analysis:
- Retrofit the existing datacenter
- Build a new datacenter
- Lease space at a colocation facility
AIM recommended colocation, which best addressed the client’s objectives with the most appropriate cost value and the lowest short and long-term risk. Following significant consultation with the client, AIM facilitated the colocation vendor selection process, provided the company with a comprehensive roadmap for migrating all mission-critical systems from the primary datacenter to the new collocated facility, upgrading the DR facility, and re-architecting the client’s software to make it more conducive for a high-availability datacenter design.
The roadmap called for the DR site upgrades first, including an increase in capacity to ensure full availability if a disaster event occurred at the primary facility. The second phase involved migrating the primary facility to a certified Tier 3 collocated facility, while the third phase addressed the software re-architecture. A final phase called for transitioning to an active/active datacenter configuration, thereby balancing workloads across all available datacenter facilities to help assure continuous availability. The roadmap included built-in contingencies for each phase.
Because of the urgency, the client acted immediately on the colocation recommendation and relied on AIM to provide project management support throughout the migration process.
All the migrations and upgrades have been seamless to end users. The migration of the client’s mission-critical systems was ongoing but steady, with the client choosing to move in waves with pauses between. The lessons learned from each migration were incorporated into future migration planning.
Because the new datacenter is now housed in a collocated facility, the company can add capacity according to customer demand and company growth.
Of equal importance to the infrastructure improvements is the culture shift that took place within the company toward embracing the criticality of its backend systems. With AIM Consulting’s guidance, the company has begun to impart business continuity to all its current and future infrastructure planning, stepping up to the responsibility of being a public entity on NASDAQ following its successful IPO.