24 February 2009 : Hamiltons' IT

James Tansley presented Hamiltons' IT infrastructure.

Summary

James Tansley, IT Director at Hamiltons, gave a presentation covering Hamiltons' IT installation at their new offices at Porchester Road. Following the presentation the forum group were given a tour of the server room and then James demonstrated apects of Hamiltons' VMWare Infrastructure and NetApp installations.

Forum Notes

Hamiltons are a large commercial architectural firm. James has been instrumental in introducing the forum attendees to virtualisation technology and it was highly instructive to see how this technology is used at Hamiltons together with other aspects of its IT infrastructure. Many thanks to James for hosting the forum, and for providing the information below.
» more about Hamiltons
» more about virtualisation
» James' virtualisation forum address

A page from James' presentation
A page from James' presentation. Click to download the PDF

What is the size and capacity of Hamiltons' London office?

The Building was designed for 250 to 300 staff and is 1800 sq.m. over the 1st, 2nd and 3rd floors.

What is the configuration of the office network?

  • Internal network:
    • A Cisco network using a Catalyst 4507 core switch and Catalyst 3560 PoE edge switched
    • VLANS created to be compatible with separate offices that were subsequently merged
    • VLAN created for the phone system
  • External network:
    • Office connected to MPLS cloud via resilient 100 MB circuits
    • Data centre connected to MPLS cloud
    • 10 MB internet access via the Data centre
    • Dual ISDN bearer circuits for phone system
    • VOIP call processer with redundant media servers and call processors

What backup solutions do Hamiltons employ?

  • Commvault Galaxy software, with agents for the Netapp, Standalone servers, Linux servers, and Active Directory
  • 64 Bit Windows server dedicated to run the software
  • Overland LTO-4 (800/1600Gb) 30 slot Library with twin drives. Each drive connected to a separate ultra 360 scsi card.
  • 4 way lan card using HP teaming to create 4Gbs of bandwidth to the Netapp System (2gb per Netapp Controller).
James Tansley
James Tansley provides a tour of the server room

What type of data storage is used?

  • Netapp 3020C Clustered Filer configuration using fibre channel drive shelves. Each controller has 8 lan ports, 2Gbs for Backup, 3Gb ISCSI, 3GB LAN.

What type of virtualisation is used?

  • Vmware ESX server running on HP DL380 servers installed with 12Gb RAM, 6 Lan Ports, 3Gb Lan, 2Gb ISCSI, 1Gb vmotion interface

How do Hamiltons structure services to enable high availability?

  • Virtualise as much as possible. Virtual servers are easy to backup and therefore easy to recreate after a disaster.
  • Replicate data offsite, and if possible replicate the VMs offsite too.
  • SQL and Exchange (anything that uses a database) need specific software to ensure consistent snapshots are taken that can be used in the event of a disaster.
  • Use redundant hardware for all critical systems. Redundancy can be for Power, control boards, network interfaces, hard drives, network links, etc
  • Each rack is supported by a 3 phase UPS battery
  • PDUs on each rack are monitored
James Tansley
The server room tour

Is there a disaster recovery site? Testing/ rehearsals?

  • No recovery site yet. Any site with internet access could be connected to the Data Centre very quickly though.

How is the environment controlled and monitored for critical hardware?

  • The Comms room uses a rotating set of airconditioning units for redundancy
  • Server racks are open frames to all maximum access and airflow

When did the office move happen?

  • June 2008

What is the size of the IT support team?

  • 5 staff, office runs 8 to 6, system stable and out of hours cover has not been required. Though senior IT staff have remote access.

Attendees

  • James Tansley, John Schegar Hamiltons
  • Darren Carroll, Jestico & Whiles
  • Graham Thomas, John Thompson
  • Jevon Tucker, 3DReid
  • John Milsom, Fletcher Priest
  • Chris Poulton, Hugh Fernando Wilkinson Eyre Architects
  • Luke Ritchie, Dixon Jones
  • Ben Stratton-Woodward, Exposure
  • Bevan Badenhorst, Steffian
  • Rory Campbell-Lange, Mark Adams Campbell-Lange Workshop
  • Matt Dunning and colleagues, NetApp

About the Forums

Campbell-Lange Workshop runs forums on a regular basis. Most are for IT managers, and are intended to provide an informal environment in which attendees can discuss ideas, approaches and ways to improve working practices while keeping abreast of changes in the industry.