Data islands

Abu Dhabi tourism body, TDIC, has set up an offshore disaster recovery site and a primary datacentre in a record eight months to provide reliable connectivity across branch offices.

  • E-Mail
By  Sathya Mithra Ashok Published  March 2, 2008

Abu Dhabi tourism body, TDIC, has set up an offshore disaster recovery site and a primary datacentre in a record eight months to provide reliable connectivity across branch offices.

When you are considering sheer time scales in IT implementations, it is pretty hard to beat the one set by the IT team at Tourism Development and Investment Company (TDIC) in Abu Dhabi. They planned, designed and deployed two brand-new datacentres in the space of eight months last year.

"I think we have planned it pretty well. The specifications were very well done although the thing is as an IT guy you don't build ten datacentres in your life - unless you do it as a profession. So you also learn as you go along which is quite interesting and when we did the first one, we got an advantage for putting in place the second one," says Ronald Franckaert, ICT director at TDIC.

The need for the datacentre was felt because the Saadiyat project is a flagship one for us and because of the different components that go into it.

Modest as Franckaert is, it is rather difficult to hide the team's success story with that simple statement, especially considering where they come from.

TDIC was formed as an off-shoot of Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA) in 2006 with the express charter of developing tourism destinations in and around Abu Dhabi and thereby contributing to the tourism industry. This can involve everything from developing massive real-estate projects - like Saadiyat Island and Desert Islands - to forming joint ventures for construction projects. All of this is done keeping in mind the larger cultural and green aspects of the land.

"We have to exist on our own, we have to make money when we do these real-estate projects. It's a very aggressive and ambitious company. We want to develop all of these projects and it's all the ideals that Abu Dhabi has to become bigger and better in the toursim area that we are trying to make come true," says Franckaert.

Right after formation, the small band of TDIC employees was housed in ADTA's building.

"ADTA has their own set up with the network and the datacentre. So we kind of got some space from them - the structured cabling already existed in the building and we got some space from them to put in a couple of servers and some storage and that's basically how we ran it. That was the original situation with digital PABX and ADTA's Cat 5 structured cabling inside ADTA premises that was used to connect our systems," says Frankaert.

With the company growing fast, TDIC soon felt the need for something of their own.

"We were very soon hitting the limits of that infrastructure. There were all rack mountable servers and they have their limitations. We also grew from around 40 people in mid 2006 to around 180 people today," Frankaert says.

The first datacentre

The company planned for and deployed its first datacentre in its Saadiyat Islands project between March and June 2007.

"The need for the datacentre was felt because the Saadiyat project is a flagship one for us and because of the different components that go into it. There are cultural districts with many museums being set up there along with five resorts on the north beach, the golf course and other developments. In order to get all of this going we needed to move people out there to work together, from TDIC as well as the contractor's organisation, and have the appropriate set up," states Franckaert.

Though he is not willing to venture a tier to the datacentre, the room is certainly not in the lower layers.

"It is a fully redundant set up. This starts with the electrical provision. We have main power as well as backup power, which goes through redundant UPSes, which failover and backup each other. We have quite a bit of equipment behind the UPSes. The cooling also has a backup generator feed which means the datacentre can be up and running all the time as long as the electrical provisions work across the main power lines and the backup functions," Franckaert explains.

The datacentre has the same situation at the equipment level. The team has set up a redundant core switch and a redundant PABX for VoIP. The datacentre boasts blade server architecture from HP, HP's SAN solution, a raised floor setup, temperature controls, a secure environment and provisions for fire fighting.

Add a Comment

Your display name This field is mandatory

Your e-mail address This field is mandatory (Your e-mail address won't be published)

Security code