Revera buys Livestock Improvement's datacentre

Hamilton-based Livestock Improvement (LIC) has signed a five-year deal with infrastructure provider Revera for utility computing.

Revera will take ownership of LIC’s Newstead datacentre, which includes around 120 servers, other hardware and network equipment.

This is one of Revera’s largest provisioning contracts and will spearhead its new Waikato business, adding a fourth datacentre to other New Zealand facilities, in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. The company also operates datacentre capacity in Australia.

More scalable IT to support seasonal demands, new research projects and business expansion drove the decision for a managed services engagement, says LIC IT infrastructure and sourcing manager Aaron Paki. A seasonal breeding peak of three to four months adds 2000 employees to LIC’s 500-plus permanent employees.

“Traditionally, we’ve owned and managed IT ourselves. But we’re moving away from that to leverage the platform and skills that are shared and can scale to business requirements,” he says. “We want to be able to quickly grow and shrink pockets of our operation and open up new markets.”

A central part of the deal is a three-year equipment replacement programme, which Revera will dovetail with a data-centre refit, replicating its virtualised VDC (virtual datacentre) hosting platform and Type R super cooled eco pods, used in its Albany and Tawa data centres.

Paki says LIC considered upgrading its 25-year-old datacentre but pursued other options when a $750,000 price tag was put on necessary improvements.

“So we started asking questions: do we really want to own and maintain our own facility? Do we need our own equipment on-site?”

LIC’s was formerly a New Zealand Dairy Board subsidiary, managing New Zealand’s artificial breeding programme and stock records. It runs a number of large DB2 databases, which, before LIC’s corporatisation in 2001, ran on mainframes. Consequently, its datacentre wasn’t configured for a modern server based environment, Paki says.

“For example, we had a 250 kVA UPS (uninterrupable power supply) in here. Today we use a 40 kVA UPS. The datacentre was configured for that sort of environment, and we’re a long way from that now. The room’s less than half full and the space is really under-utilised.”

LIC engaged independent ICT infrastructure consultancy Cumulus to structure and manage the RFP process.

Revera was appointed from a final group of three tenderers. Along with building and hardware ownership, and the facilities upgrade programme, Revera will oversee all datacentre and information management and workflow, including applications and systems performance.

“Where possible Revera will implement their standard processes. However, the service desk stays with LIC, as we believe our customer interface should remain internal,” Paki says.

He says there will be no change to LIC’s traditional role of recording the production and history of the national dairy herd through the core database.

Paki says more fluid IT capacity will help to accelerate research projects, applications testing, and bed-in new business. For example, LIC’s bovine genetic analysis demands considerable processing power, requiring a suite of servers to run at 100% for three weeks at a time.

“When you run databases the size of ours, creating development copies for testing changes puts a major dent in resources. Revera lets us turn on short term capacity or shuffle existing capacity.”

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