The ITCS projects team are regularly asked to ‘think outside the box’ – but a recent disaster recovery project saw us thinking very much within it!
One of our established clients, a huge international automotive specialist, had approached the projects team to commission and build a back-up data centre solution for their site in South Wales, which employs over 500 people. The client had identified that existing backup switches were not sufficiently remote to the main site, so if a disaster such as a fire or flood occurred, the back-up would be equally vulnerable.
ITCS were initially tasked to identify a good, secure location for an additional data centre within the existing building complex, but having inspected the site over several hours, Projects Director Glyn Pearce was unable to identify a suitable location which would not be equally affected by any disaster that befell the main data centre.
As the project would need an exterior site, Glyn needed to find a solution for a custom structure which would be affordable, reasonably fast to complete and sufficiently strong and secure to act as a disaster recovery suite. Having seen containers used for all manner of purposes, Glyn came up with the idea of using a shipping container to create a disaster recovery suite, completely customized to meet the company’s exact needs.
Shipping containers are made from weathered steel, so offer good fire resistance and are secure. Unlike traditional buildings, a container was quick to build and could be located anywhere, so finding the right spot sufficiently distant to the main building would not be a problem on the large site. The location chosen would then require the ITCS Projects team to lay a 3000m fibre data cable from the main site to the disaster recovery suite, ensuring connectivity in a crisis.
Glyn presented the solution to the client, who loved the idea and instructed ITCS to go ahead with the build.
The build itself took 6 weeks at the ITCS site in Bridgend. The team took an initial empty container, and the other departments at ITCS watched with interest as the projects team converted it into a complete office suite with both the hardware and comfort required to ensure business continuity in the event of a disaster. The next step would be installation of the disaster recovery suite at the clients site.
Logistics and transport were the next challenge. Thankfully, ITCS have a good working relationship with local heavy transport experts Smiths Heavy Haulage. We were able to work with them closely to manage the logistics of transporting a heavy container to site and we were well equipped to handle the installation. We employed contractors and managed the entire on-site project including health and safety during both installation and the laying of the 3000m fibre cable.
The result is a completely custom, robust disaster recovery solution that has seriously increased our client’s business resilience.
The client was over the moon with the final result, which was implemented on time and on budget.
Projects Director Glyn said:
“What seemed an initial challenge was easily overcome. I always joke that working in the projects team means being able to think outside the box – I’ve now had to agree it means thinking WITHIN a box sometimes!
“This is a perfect illustration of how good planning, creative thinking and good relationships with logistics and contracting teams can deliver a complex project and make it look effortless to the untrained eye. We’ve already had enquiries for similar projects for other large companies in the South Wales area, and it feels great to know that no matter what life throws at our clients, we are able to help them ensure business continuity.”