The next time you switch on Star TV, spare a moment for the thought that you will not get your dose of entertainment without the IT setup running behind it. This is the story of how Star India's IT setup (earlier based in Hong Kong where the company is based) moved to India, thanks to an elaborate plan for migration of data center infrastructure.
Earlier, Star India had the responsibility for the operational delivery and management of the IT services provided out of Hong Kong. Star India's idea of migrating data centers to India came about in late 2009, when the organization realized that India had become a major business hub—and that around 80% of Star's business happens out of India.
"Once the decision was made for migration of data center infrastructure, we had a whole list of key transition objectives," says Venkat Iyer, the senior vice president of IT & new media for Star India. The team had to ensure minimal disruption to the broadcast and revenue. It had to complete an entire re-design and re-deployment exercise for its existing IT setup as part of the plan for migration of data center. Star India also had to set up a primary as well as DR site, which would be scalable enough to handle other countries' requirements, and flexible enough to accommodate business requirements.
Seven data centers had to be consolidated in India as part of Star's plan. The list of challenges was equally long. First and foremost, there was absolutely no knowledge about the data center setup at Hong Kong. There were several other concerns surrounding migration of the data center, such as the downtime available for cutover, as well as failures in vendor deliverables. "While drafting the plan for migration of our data center, we realized that no aspect was simple, since every project was a milestone in itself," recalls Iyer. The application integration layer had to be carefully performed. Another data center migration challenge was to procure enough network bandwidth for data migration.
Star India's IT team also had to consider whether to build or lease a new data center facility. There had to be minimum complexity while migrating the data center. Consolidation helped in a major way during migration of data center infrastructure. Server virtualization was adopted, along with consolidated workloads. Planning was conducted in advance before starting on migration of the data center. There was a proof of concept setup as well as a validation plan. The project for migration of Star India's data center was completed in May 2010.
Themigration of data center infrastructure has resulted in savings for Star India in terms of server hardware, networking equipment, space, power and maintenance. Star India has selected the colocation data center approach at Reliance Data Center in Mumbai. Star India's DR site has been set up in Bengaluru. The company has opted for server virtualization, although the entire production environment has not been virtualized. So far, 50 servers have been consolidated on seven servers at the primary site using virtualization, while the team has virtualized 25 servers to four at the DR site. Star India has also implemented a private cloud as part of its migration of data center infrastructure.
Before migration of the data center, Star India personnel had to fly frequently to Hong Kong with tapes to transfer data. On this front, migration of the data center setup has clearly saved a huge amount of money.
Lots of lessons have been learned as well during migration of data center infrastructure. "There are tons of do-not-forgets. It's essential to have documentation of both current and future states. The integration layer has to be tested thoroughly during migration of data center infrastructure. We have to test the network latency of the new data center and have a backup contingency plan in place for each phase," says Balvinder Singh, the vice president of IT for Star India.