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3 April 2019

After 25 years in our old offices, it was finally time to move. But there was one problem. The last relocation was back in 1994, long before high data volumes, mixed-platform architectures and 24/7 availability. Back then, one of the bigger risks of an office migration might be putting your back out when lifting one of the era’s clunkier machines.

At the time, the majority of our production services ran from on-premises hardware, with the exception of cloud-based environments for newer projects, Office 365 and disaster recovery (DR). Our on-premises technology didn’t lend itself easily to physical movement without disruption.

We soon realised that the best way to enable the office relocation without downtime – and be set up for similar moves in future – was to replicate operations to the cloud. The next step would be to run on-premises and cloud solutions in parallel, and ultimately switch to all-cloud, giving us the time to make the physical move at our leisure.

So we put our Northdoor expertise to work, migrating our entire infrastructure to the cloud prior to the move, without interrupting day-to-day services.

Making the move

The first stage was to upgrade to a Virtual Private LAN Service (VPLS), which would ensure the highest security and performance for our private cloud arrangement. Our internet provider and network partner, Exponential-e, supplied a VPLS for both of Northdoor’s offices, complete with internet break-out and a managed firewall.

With connection infrastructure in place, we deployed the Exponential-e Cloud Connect service to create a private, secure, high-speed connection to the Azure cloud.

We re-created our servers as virtual machines in a dual UK-region deployment of Azure, which avoids the reliance on a single Microsoft data centre. We then replicated our entire application and data infrastructure to the new cloud environments, using the Cloud Connect service.

With our production services safely running in Azure, we created a series of VPN tunnels, moving each of our client connections to the cloud solutions over time, without disruption to operations. This step-by-step approach eliminated what otherwise might have required weekend after weekend of downtime, while greatly reducing the transition risk – and cutting out the stress! We completed the technical migration well ahead of the physical office transition.

Creating a new infrastructure for our new office

Come removal day, it was only question of shifting monitors, cables, desktops and personal effects. With our operations running safely in the Azure cloud, there was no interruption to our services whatsoever.

Now, thanks to the great thinking of our team, Northdoor’s production services are 100% UK cloud-based. This liberates us from the disruption of periodic hardware refreshes, and enables near-limitless scalability. Additionally, our operations are protected by industrial-strength backup and DR processes from within Microsoft’s highly secure, resilient data centres.

Free from the worry of downtime or disruption, we can focus on what we do best – driving innovative solutions for our customers.

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