Partners and providers: A blueprint for modern data centre transformation

Partners and providers: A blueprint for modern data centre transformation

George Daly, Network Architect at Fasthosts, IONOS Group, discusses how embracing change doesn’t only meet the challenges of today but having a modernised infrastructure helps the trajectory for a competitive and sustainable future.  

George Daly, Network Architect at Fasthosts, IONOS Group

Data centre operators and service providers are at a crossroads in an ever-shifting digital landscape. They must enhance efficiency across their data centre real estate while integrating sustainability into their offering. This double-headed challenge is an opportunity for optimisation and a chance to stand out from other data centre market players.

Old versus new

As more small to medium-sized businesses consider enhancing their digital presence, they are increasingly relying on companies such as Fasthosts to provide fast, secure websites, email, servers, storage and digital marketing tools. Fasthosts’ operations have witnessed considerable growth in recent years as a result and this has led to the opening of its state-of-the-art flagship data centre in Worcester, UK. 

The facility is the UK’s first Tier-4 data centre to have been certified by Uptime Institute and to run on 100% renewable energy. This ambitious project provides customers with one of the largest European cloud platforms, for which Fasthosts relocated thousands of containers, bare metal servers and over 30,000 Virtual Machines (VMs).

As an organisation, Fasthosts made a strategic choice to converge multiple network designs into an orchestrated and automated fabric to support application reliability, powered by Juniper Apstra. This is intent-based networking software that automates data centre network design and operations. The software offers multivendor support with analytics and predictive insights to resolve network performance issues at speed. Apstra solution provided 85% faster provision of network services for Fasthosts. 

While it may seem unconventional to alter data centre network infrastructure during such a critical phase, with meticulous planning and attention to detail, data centre migration can be an ideal opportunity to modernise infrastructure. With Juniper Networks, Fasthosts overcame the challenges that may accompany these transitions that lead to major improvements. 

Data centre operators need to select the right technology partners. Not only will the right partner deliver optimal solutions but also offer exceptional support throughout the process from pre-sales solution architecture to post-sales technical support. 

The benefits of net zero

In a world that’s becoming increasingly digital, sustainability and energy efficiency are paramount. Data usage and storage continue to increase, as does the environmental impact of these processes. 

Improving data centre network infrastructure can play a pivotal role in achieving sustainability targets. It can also reduce energy consumption, enhance a data centre’s carbon footprint and improve cooling efficiency. Data centre architects need to prioritise and focus on tracking, measuring and mitigating their environmental impact as and where possible. Using a modernised network infrastructure and the analytics produced by these fabrics will allow operators to be more efficient in the energy and space they consume. 

Understanding an application’s requirements, especially regarding traffic flows and latency, is crucial during data centre migrations. When redesigning the data centre, Fasthosts encountered challenges in terms of hardware procurement and energy efficiency. Additionally, the need for network automation became increasingly evident as the demand for rapid deployment and orchestration complexity grew. By consolidating its various network designs into a leaf/spine IP fabric, powered by EVPN signalled VXLAN encapsulated overlays, Fasthosts managed to achieve a stable IP underlay network with the flexibility to deploy L2 and L3 overlays as needed.

Grand, sustainable designs 

The migration gave the provider a prime opportunity to incorporate modern, efficient and sustainable infrastructure within its business. The modular data centre design, featuring separate power, cooling and network connectivity for each server hall enabled Fasthosts to innovate without being tethered to initial design decisions. The design also allowed the organisation to effectively manage risk and separate risk zones dynamically. 

Efficiency and sustainability are not mutually exclusive but rather two sides of the same coin. Fasthost’s experience underscores the importance of embracing change, selecting the right partners and prioritising sustainability during growth. By doing so, data centre operators can embark on a transformative journey that not only meets the challenges of today but also paves the way for a sustainable, efficient and resilient future.

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