In 2005, managers at the UK division of Bank of New York (BNY), were facing something of a housing crisis. The rent on the global investment bank’s London premises was rising fast and it was running out of space – especially data centre space. The need to find a suitable location became so pressing that managers were willing to consider anything; they even briefly looked at moving to a reconditioned nuclear bunker.
Ultimately, a more suitable new site was found. For security reasons, Linda Hallett, vice president for business continuity at BNY, is unwilling to reveal details of that location , but she outlines that BNY’s technology nerve centre has moved 50 miles north of London.
The move highlights the growing difficulty of finding suitable locations for data centre operations. BNY’s old site had all the advantages of proximity and a top-class communications infrastructure, but the City of London proved too inflexible. Housing a data centre close to business operations is also regarded as a risk by regulators at the Federal Reserve Bank, back in the US.
However, moving the data centre so far from its London offices created other issues. “The biggest challenge was actually verifying that the applications would perform well across the fibre optic network, despite the distance,” says Hallett.
In total, it took three months of testing the applications over the fibre links to ensure that time its data spends in transit between the operational site and the data centre – ie the latency – would not impact business performance.
BNY’s new data centre houses a mix of data, from local files, such as Microsoft Office documents and email, to financial transaction data. The physical move itself took place over a period of three months, and included its core mainframe, several mid-range machines and 200 to 300 industry standard servers. All of these were moved over several weekends to ensure that there was no direct impact on the business.
And so far, the business is happy with its new IT home, says Hallett. “In terms of the actual move, that was extremely well-managed and implemented; our people actually received a commendation for the work they did on it.”