WorldPay is an electronics payment processor that handles 21 million transactions a day, including credit and debit card and e-commerce payments.
The UK-based company was acquired by Royal Bank of Scotland in 2002 but when the bank was bailed out by the UK government in 2009, it was forced to sell off a number of assets including WorldPay.
In December 2010, it was taken over by two private equity firms Bain and Advent for £3 billion. That meant moving out of RBS¹s data centre and setting up on its own. This would have been a daunting task for any organisation, but WorldPay did not employ any infrastructure specialists at the time.
"We had a handful of people doing server administration, but we didn’t have any true command centre, network or storage admins, service delivery or capacity planning people," recalls chief technology officer Erik Toivonen. WorldPay¹s first job was to find out where exactly in RBS¹ IT infrastructure its systems were hosted. To do this, it engaged IT consultancy Xceed Group.
"That phase was all about understanding clearly what we had within RBS that ran WorldPay’s systems," says Toivonen. "The majority of that work was around the kit that it was running on, and from there you had to extrapolate what it would take to run in a new environment."
Once its IT systems had been mapped out and Toivonen knew what WorldPay needed to run on its own, it looked for systems integrators who could build and host the new infrastructure.
"We went out to a number of large providers to ask for information on their high-level capabilities in running data centres, migrating large scale applications, moving or installing new hardware, and running a continuous availability environment for us," Toivonen says.
Going it alone
Having assessed what was on offer and the prices involved, however, WorldPay decided to design, build and manage the new infrastructure itself. "The process of understanding what people had out there, the pricing and so forth led us to the ultimate decision of choosing to do it ourselves," Toivonen explains.
With the help of Xceed, it took the opportunity to select some upgrade some of its key systems in its platform. "We have changed our underlying architecture pretty significantly," says Toivonen. "Our settlement engine was running on a mainframe, but that’s all been rewritten with newer technologies.
"We are running some of the newer database technologies, and we’ve adopted some of the new, higher performing storage technology although we still use some of the traditional storage that you would expect to see in any large data centre processing petabytes of data.
"It¹s all become a bit more flexible," says Toivonen of the new design. "It¹s easier to scale out by adding hardware and it’s bit easier to maintain because we use a high degree of rules-based processing, rules engines or workflow-based processing."
The entire infrastructure is duplicated in two SunGard co-location data centres to provide continuous availability. "Each site is designed to be able to take full load at any point in time."
Beginning in February 2012, WorldPay and Xceed began installing an impressive array of hardware at the SunGard facilities, taking in 200 miles of fibre cabling, 40 miles of copper, 60,000 fibre terminations and 6 tonnes of storage.
The migration to the new platform is still underway, due for completion in October 2013. Toivonen explains that the nature of WorldPay¹s business means that the new infrastructure must tested in extreme detail.
"When you move the kind of volume of transactions and monetary value as we do, testing is significant and it’s absolutely required," he says.