Server farms of UK Defence sites get cloudy

CIOL Bureau
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LONDON: Rackspace Hosting has won a three-year, competitive deal to provide fully managed support to the Joint Server Farm (JSF), a secure hosting environment for Ministry of Defence (MOD) websites. The relationship will see MOD, Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force websites consolidated onto a single, virtualised infrastructure to enable easier management, greater efficiencies and scalability.


Rackspace beat 18 other companies to win the contract to support the JSF following a European Journal Competition and tender for contract, says a press note. Through the deal Rackspace will provide MOD partners with the flexibility to manage and change websites quickly to meet user demand. It will also provide enhanced security from firewalls and intrusion detection devices, which constantly monitor for threats, round-the-clock access to certified engineers and a 100 per cent network uptime guarantee, backed by its service level agreement.

“We are delighted to have extended our relationship with the MOD by winning this tender in what was a hard fought pitch by lots of companies,” said Brian Thomson, EMEA Managing Director, Rackspace Hosting. “At a time when costs and efficiencies are being brought to the forefront, we know we can truly help simplify the MOD infrastructure to meet these challenges.”

The JSF is a single infrastructure for all services websites and applications. It currently supports a number of well-known MOD campaigns, such as the recruiting website for the Army, Start Thinking Soldier as well as the Army Pathfinder programme. It also supports Navy and Air Force recruitment campaigns, all of the cadets sites, a number of admin sites and facilitates small short-term public information campaign sites.

The MOD created the JSF because it had lots of disparate sites on different infrastructures, which were hard to maintain, inefficient and unscalable. With the growing influence of the internet it was also decided that a central resource that departments could tap into for their web requirements was needed. In addition to this, the MOD was bound to meet the Transformational Government Agenda (TGA), which requires rationalization of websites across all government departments. The MOD also moved to virtual servers for its consolidated infrastructure to provide greater flexibility when managing the sites.

Rackspace consolidated 67 servers to 12 physical hypervisors and 72 virtual servers by implementing virtualisation across the MOD infrastructure. This solution when combined with a raft of changes to the contract cost model, including a reduction in SAN spindle storage costs, resulted in a substantial reduction of overall costs. It also provides greater efficiencies for power and space, with a lower number of overall servers.