Rightmove outsources data centre resilience

Rightmove has signed a deal for outsourced data centre services to ensure the availability of its website, which served 4.9 billion page impressions in 2007.

The UK property website has a 79 per cent market share of the online property market based on the number of pages viewed, with 90 per cent of estate agents in the country and all large new home developers listing and advertising their properties on the site.

Luke West, Rightmove technical operations manager, said the deal with provider ControlCircle would streamline the management of its mission critical IT operations. It will also support the company's move to a more redundant data centre model, that would add extra resilience by replicating its second data centre with another new, third site, in what's referred to as an "N+1" model.

Rightmove has operated out of two data centres to achieve the redundancy required, with systems mirrored at each site. But West said: "We were faced with buying four pieces of hardware servers, switches, firewalls and so on and locating two of everything at each of the two sites."

He said that there were cost efficiency issues with such a model. "The issue, for example, with this model is that you'd have one server at each site operating at 100 per cent, with its backup server completely unused, waiting for the primary units to fail so that it could kick in," said West. "Self evidently, this was a costly and wasteful approach."

The deal, for an undisclosed sum, does incur slightly higher data centre space costs because Rightmove has shifted to a three data centre approach locating one system at each, but the company anticipates saving a quarter on physical hardware purchases as only three of everything will now need to be bought.

West added: "I have been working in data centres for years and I really like this N+1' model. Hardware doesn't sit about in a quiescent state and it means we can take a data centre down for maintenance, if we need to, without affecting service to our customers and the property buying public."

He said working with one outsourcer has also allowed Rightmove to consolidate some of the data centre operational overheads, removing the need to work and manage three suppliers, contracts and service level agreements (SLAs).

ControlCircle is providing space, power, intelligent border gateway protocol (BGP) connectivity by working with various carriers, as well as remote engineer services as and when required.

West added: "If we lose a web server at one site, we'd continue functioning because the load balancing technology would redistribute load to the other web servers and, if we lost a database, we could even take a data centre off line and function perfectly with just two while the issue was sorted."

Miya Knights

A 25-year veteran enterprise technology expert, Miya Knights applies her deep understanding of technology gained through her journalism career to both her role as a consultant and as director at Retail Technology Magazine, which she helped shape over the past 17 years. Miya was educated at Oxford University, earning a master’s degree in English.

Her role as a journalist has seen her write for many of the leading technology publishers in the UK such as ITPro, TechWeekEurope, CIO UK, Computer Weekly, and also a number of national newspapers including The Times, Independent, and Financial Times.