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Networking Data Center Networking

WWT Delivers First of Its Kind ACI Multi-Site, Multi-Pod Integration During Data Center Migration

WWT’s subject matter expertise and willingness to go the extra mile helped a massive service provider consolidate more than 50 data center facilities into three while upskilling its IT team to work with the technology.

In This Case Study

A multi-billion-dollar business unit of a privately held global service provider conglomerate sought to consolidate its massive data center footprint in order to optimize costs, increase agility and drive innovation through a more software-defined architecture.  

The customer's data center portfolio included more than 50 facilities that provide computing and networking services for more than two dozen distinct brands. Such application and workload sprawl created little standardization across facilities, and the customer needed to move aggressively under a tight deadline as many of the facilities were nearing end of lease. 

The customer utilized Cisco’s Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) and completed some of the deployment on their own but then ran into issues when they realized the facilities would require using ACI Multi-Site for a data center interconnection while others would also require using ACI Multi-Pod — two separate technologies with differing use cases.

The customer needed them to work together but was not confident it could be done. The company’s business stakeholders deemed the project too risky to keep in-house — any network downtime leading up to, during or after migration would cost the organization millions of dollars each minute — and turned to WWT for guidance.  

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First: We understood the problem 

We quickly engaged with the customer, connecting our own subject matter experts with key stakeholders in a workshop to discuss important points of understanding regarding the two powerful yet distinct architectures (Multi-Site and Multi-Pod), and provided a high-level solution to successfully integrate the pair.  

As the customer learned more about WWT’s expertise, it requested additional workshops and engagements in our Advanced Technology Center (ATC) to drill down on the solution’s architecture and how it could work.  

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Second: We proved we could solve the problem 

In the ATC, the customer was able to see first-hand how we could organize workloads and applications around core areas and account for a variety of migration patterns.  We replicated the service provider’s network environment to verify configuration, fabric topology and other aspects of the solution.  

All of the physical and logical gear was designed, built and executed on within the ATC — even the existing customer's tools were made available to help in demonstrating the process and gaining knowledge before the real maintenance windows were to occur. This established a roadmap for the client’s internal team to roll out the configuration based on their comfort pace. 

Our deep roster of subject matter experts and relationships with key technology vendors helped rapidly accelerate the entire process, simplifying the complexity around testing, validation, multi-vendor integration and, ultimately, migration. 

At the same time, the customer was able to utilize the WWT ATC Platform to independently learn and better understand Cisco ACI and the nuances between the Multi-Site and Multi-Pod technologies. 

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Third: We set up the migration solution 

Once the solution was proven and the customer was comfortable with WWT’s ability to consolidate the data center footprint into a single network that runs as a single large fabric from an operational standpoint and utilizes both ACI Multi-Site and ACI Multi-Pod, we began work standing up the actual infrastructure to prepare for migration.  

Because we had proven the solution in the ATC, we were able to confidently hit the ground running and expedite the buildout with a validated architecture.  

Further, WWT provided two full-time engineers to ensure the implementation would go according to plan and be able to quickly address challenges that always arise during data center integrations and consolidations. 

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Fourth: We educated the IT team and provided on-site migration support 

Understanding the customer’s IT team may not be fully comfortable with the innovative solution or the technology stack, WWT provided an on-site training workshop for more than 40 of the customer’s engineers as well as members of the leadership team to familiarize them with the technology and answer any questions. With the solution proven, the infrastructure in place and the customer’s IT team comfortable with the technology, the company was ready for migration — a process that would ultimately consolidate more than 50 data centers spread geographically across the U.S. into three facilities. 

To further enhance customer confidence, we deployed one of the engineers working on the solution in the ATC to the project site. The engineer’s familiarity with both the solution and the customer’s people and processes proved valuable to a smooth migration process.  

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Conclusion 

By reducing their data center footprint, the customer was able to realize substantial cost savings. With a simpler, more standardized data center architecture, the customer is now able to easily leverage automation to better scale and drive innovation.  

Due to WWT's assistance with the data center migration, the customer now has a thorough understanding of the Multi-Site and Multi-Pod architectures and how they can work together, enhancing migration flexibility.