Mercer Human Resource Consulting, a global provider of HR and financial services, has gone live with a state-of-the-art European datacentre at an ex-Ministry of Defence site 40 miles north of London.
Mercer's European Global Technology Operation Centre took 18 months to complete and consolidated 600 servers down to 170, cutting the company's hardware and maintenance costs.
The datacentre went live at the end of September, and Mercer has already won an outsourcing contract with the Co-op to deliver financial and administration services from the new site.
John Simpson, IT programme director for the Mercer infrastructure strategy programme, said, "We host core applications and systems specific to pensions administration, actuarial valuations and finance, as well as client facing e-hosting, e-mail, file and other key business systems."
At the beginning of the datacentre programme, Mercer carried out an application performance audit using Compuware's Proof-of-Concept and Prototype methodologies to mitigate the risk of application migration.
Proof-of-Concept simulated a production environment, which allowed the IT department to make operational changes in a risk-free system before it moved to a production environment. It took Mercer two months to validate the performance of selected applications.
However, the project was not without difficulties. "The biggest challenge was maintaining the current infrastructure during a complete technology refresh implementation, and still being able to scale quickly to support the demands of our business," said Simpson.
This had to be done while minimising business disruption and completing the programme in the shortest time possible.
"Besides the usual project challenges of scope creep, with a programme of this complexity we were faced with a constant balancing act. Cost and time implications needed to be weighed up against applying a best-practice approach while addressing risk and mitigation strategies," said Simpson.
Mercer is already getting a return on investment from the datacentre, mainly from a higher utilisation of the centralised and consolidated server resources, said Simpson.
"They are now pooled to deliver higher availability and disaster recovery services provision to many more Mercer business-critical applications than previously available," he said.
Mercer's datacentre technology
Mercer's European Global Technology Operation Centre was built in collaboration with Computacenter, Compuware, EMC and IBM.
The datacentre uses the latest generation of IBM blade and enterprise servers, including IBM x345s and x445s servers, KVM switches and Hewlett-Packard midrange servers.
The datacentre's storage area network provides storage to Mercer's offices throughout the UK. The storage area network consists of EMC DMX and Clariion storage, and extends to Mercer's Liverpool disaster recovery centre.
Mercer's IT system also includes a global Citrix server farm, VMWare virtualisation environment, Microsoft Exchange and Microsoft Active Directory.