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Interconnected clouds ensure greater disaster recovery and performance
Mon, 21st Nov 2016
FYI, this story is more than a year old

With over 100 years of experience in building design and construction, award-winning Hathaway Dinwiddie Construction demonstrates its forward-thinking by bringing the best capabilities and advanced technologies to its projects.

From San Francisco's iconic Transamerica Pyramid, The Getty Center in Los Angeles to the Salesforce Tower ̶ a joint venture with Clark Construction Group and soon to be one of the tallest office buildings in the western United States ̶ Hathaway Dinwiddie is transforming how buildings are designed and constructed by leveraging innovative digital technologies such as virtual machine 3D modeling.

However, in 2014 when a San Francisco power outage temporarily shut down Hathaway Dinwiddie's operations, and then a building fire caused its Los Angeles offices/data center to relocate for several months, the company's leaders realised it was time to move its systems, data, mission-critical applications and cloud infrastructure to a more robust business continuity (BC) and disaster recovery (DR) colocation environment.

At the same time, this environment also needed to provide fast and reliable access to Microsoft Azure and Office365 cloud platforms so the company could optimise its collaboration, file sharing, development, virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) and financial applications for its employees and partners.

Hathaway Dinwiddie had two very clear objectives when it began looking for a colocation data center and cloud interconnection provider:

Ensure Business Continuity

The company needed a more resilient interconnection and data center platform that could both host and protect its core systems, data and applications. Reliable disaster recovery was a must, as was a high availability environment for failover to its on-premise data center or the Azure cloud.

Accelerate Cloud-Based Collaboration

Hathaway Dinwiddie also needed a high-performance, low-latency interconnection solution to better utilize Microsoft Azure- and Office 365-based collaboration applications (e.g., email, SharePoint, Office365 Suite) and file services for its employees and design and construction partners. It also wanted an interconnection platform that would give Hathaway Dinwiddie a runway to migrate other on-premises applications to the cloud in the future to further enhance their collaboration environment.

Laying the Right Foundation for Today's and Future Applications

In looking for a new home for its Silicon Valley infrastructure, Hathaway Dinwiddie wanted to leverage a more robust and reliable data center and interconnection platform than it could build on its own. According to Hathaway Dinwiddie's Director of Information Technology Jason Warmby, “Every time we turned around, Equinix's name came up as the leader in the market.

By partnering with Equinix, Hathaway Dinwiddie was able to migrate its business continuity and disaster recovery infrastructure to a platform with greater than 99.99999% uptime. Interconnection between its primary IT infrastructure at Equinix and its on-premises failover and DR environment eliminated the need for Hathaway Dinwiddie's IT staff to make decisions, after the fact, as to when to go into DR mode.

That DR process, which typically took hours to complete, has now been nearly eliminated with data having been migrated to the cloud reducing the impact to employees and partner productivity.

Hathaway Dinwiddie also wanted the best possible connectivity to its cloud-based application environment, so it could run as fast and as efficiently as possible, as soon as possible. Its previous connection into Azure was through its IPsec virtual private network, but that connection was too slow due to high latency.

The company leveraged an Interconnection Oriented Architecture (IOA) deployed on Platform Equinix with Microsoft Azure ExpressRoute and the Equinix Cloud Exchange to directly connect to Azure and Office365 clouds. The solution “vastly improved” Hathaway Dinwiddie's cloud access and application performance, reducing it to “near LAN speed,” single-digit latency.

For example, Hathaway Dinwiddie now hosts its VDI farm at Equinix that enables innovative virtual machine 3D modeling. The VDI environment now has direct access to Microsoft Azure with a consistent 2 milliseconds latency over Equinix's high-speed, low-latency network backbone.

“Equinix has given us the best possible interconnection to services that allows our employees to build inspiration,” Warmby said.

Warmby added that leveraging an IOA on Platform Equinix has also provided Hathaway Dinwiddie with fast and easy access to cloud services for future application migration, such as cloud-based PBX for voice over IP (VoIP).

Now, with a high-performance, low-latency interconnection platform, Hathaway Dinwiddie is considering running VoIP in the cloud because latency won't impact the quality of service. “The door's wide open for us to adopt that next new piece of cloud technology for enhancing our business operations because the infrastructure's already there at Equinix,” Warmby said. “We're really excited to be leading the industry with our digital transformation and have everything online, ready to go.

Warmby also was surprised at how cost-effective it was to move to Equinix and said moving its hybrid and multi-cloud access to the Equinix Cloud Exchange has improved its overall cost of doing business.

“We have the utmost confidence in Equinix reliably delivering the services and performance we require to run and grow our business,” he said.

Article by Tony Bishop, Equinix blog