CAA division outsources data centre


The largest Canadian Automobile Association division in Canada has decided to consolidate its four data centre locations and outsource its IT infrastructure with Toronto-based Q9 Networks Inc.


The CAA South Central Ontario — which provides 1.8 million members with emergency roadside assistance, travel services, and auto insurance — is now operating out of a single Q9 data centre, with a failover system at a second Q9 facility. The two data centres are in Toronto and Brampton, Ont., respectively.


Prior to the move, CAA SCO operated four data centres in the Toronto area, including two internal facilities and two external facilities. None of these data centre locations were hosted by Q9.


In addition to providing the physical data centre space, Q9 will also provide the CAA SCO with electrical power, bandwidth and around the clock monitoring to ensure everything runs smoothly.


Jay Woo, chief operating officer at CAA SCO, expects huge resource savings because the co-location will eliminate the complexity of managing its multiple data centre facilities.


“A lot of the internal IT resources we used were tied up to doing utility IT work for the four data centres,” he said. This means that many internal IT staff members can be reallocated to other IT-business initiatives, instead of wasting time and energy “keeping the lights on.”


Woo estimated a 50 per cent reduction in this type of manpower. Prior to the co-location with Q9, he said, about 25 staff members were responsible for utility IT work.


Osama Arafat, CEO at Q9, said CAA SCO’s move is “quite typical” of a growing trend among today’s enterprises to consolidate scattered IT infrastructure resources.


While the motivating factor was to reduce overall costs, CAA SCO said other considerations also figured into the decision.


“Just the fact that we had four data centres meant that we were not green at all,” Woo said. “Moving down to one location, the power, heating and cool have all been reduced.”


A final key factor for CAA SCO was the ability to keep its data in the Greater Toronto Area — a requirement that Q9 was best able to accommodate, Woo added.


For companies who might be in a similar situation with multiple on-premise and off-site data centres, Woo advised IT leaders to gather up all of the company stakeholders they can and let them determine whether or not it makes business sense to consolidate.


For Arafat, companies should also make sure to assess how critical their infrastructure is at the outset and then look at the total cost of ownership in moving off-site. If it makes sense financial sense to outsource, the final step will be to put together a project plan in order to make a seamless transition, he said.


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