Servers Take To The Sky For Data Center Migration

Part of our promise to you is that we protect your servers – when they are physically in our data centers, and when they’re 30,000 feet in the air.

This past weekend, we conquered land and sky to successfully migrate nearly 200 white boxes from our IAD data center our DFW data center. The migration allows us to consolidate operations into larger, more cost- and energy-efficient data centers. It also allows customers to take advantage of the full Rackspace Hybrid Cloud portfolio. The migration was also a chance for us to flex the muscle of Fanatical Support®.

The 200 servers were relocated to Dallas in just under eight hours with the help of our Dedicated Migration Team. The migration took a great deal of planning – it was a precise choreography. It had to happen on off-peak hours and there had to be minimal downtime.

We started the migration with a prep meeting to make sure that our Rackers in both data centers were ready. Our Dedicated Migration techs shut down the servers remotely using scripts, which were also programmed to change the IPs and convert the legacy networks to the networks required in DFW.

Once the servers were shut down, we placed them on pallets that were pre-staged and wrapped them to protect them from outside elements like rain and dirt. We secured the servers to the pallets using cargo bands.

Each pallet had a ShockWatch warning sign, which allowed us to keep track of any pallets that received a knock during the move. The signs had liquid in a tube that would turn red if they received a big bump or drop. The pallets were then carefully loaded onto trucks and taken to the airport near IAD for departure.

We arrived at the airport shortly after 1:00 a.m. Saturday morning and, using forklifts, immediately started loading the pallets onto a waiting Boeing 727 that we chartered exclusively for the migration. The plane was ready to take off one hour later.

The flight itself was a noisy 2 ½ hours – but the leg room was unparalleled (and the servers didn’t seem to have any complaints).

Once we arrived in Dallas, it took just 15 minutes to unload the plane. From there, we loaded the servers onto waiting trucks, and headed to DFW for the handoff.

At DFW, the Rackspace migration team was prepared and waiting for the white boxes – it was like a relay racer passing the baton to the next runner.

More than 10 Rackers consoled into servers at one time in one row. All of the firewalls were pre-staged and configured for these servers, allowing us to plug and play for the most part – all we had to do was replace finicky power supplies on a handful of boxes.

We had most of the boxes online at 7:00 a.m. Saturday morning, and the migration was closed out two hours later.

It’s not easy to take nearly 200 servers on a cross-country move. It takes careful planning to execute this type of migration.  Moving your servers roughly 1,200 miles to ensure you have the best possible service is just another way we support you.

Jacques Greyling joined Rackspace Hosting as a Linux tech in the United Kingdom over a decade ago. He worked his way up through the company and has held many successful positions including Linux Team Lead, Head of Customer Care, Director of Operations, UK and Managing Director, UK. In 2007, after experiencing several data center problems, Rackspace knew it needed someone with the discipline to make tough decisions about data center operations and management. They also needed someone who deeply understood and cared about the company and preserving its unique culture. Consequently, in 2009, Greyling moved from the UK to Dallas, Texas where he spent the next seven months. He sometimes stayed at the office for 72-hour shifts that included everything from doing incident maintenance to giving tours. In April of 2010, Rackspace’s COO, Mark Roenigk, asked Jacques to lead the company’s Global Data Center Infrastructure team. From an entry-level tech position to a data center executive leader, Jacques has truly climbed a ladder of hard work and dedication at Rackspace. In his leadership role, he finds the greatest reward in “putting people you would never expect in certain positions and helping them succeed. Taking people that you see have potential and putting them where they can be challenged.” Prior to Rackspace, Greyling worked at Nissan and Datacentrix respectively. He attended the University of Pretoria in South Africa, where he earned his degree in Engineering. In his free time, he enjoys gardening, home improvement projects and spending time with his family. Jacques Greyling resides in San Antonio with his wife of 12 years, Annalize and his four-year old son, Xander.


  1. Are you able to stop your ads for your blog ad
    from flickering up and down at the bottom of my AOLmail? I can use my scroll down arrow and the ads are making me dizzy. If I am removed from your mailing list, will that get them to stop? Thank you.

  2. kinda confused… well not really.. so let me get this straight… you shut down 200 servers to move them across country.. then got them back up and running… seems to me you all made more work for yourself.. or is it just job security.. the way i look at it… if you plan to grow as a company.. and your in the business of IT services… the SMART way to have handled this.. would be set up 200 new servers … mirror the drives… and redirect the ip addresses… then when its not a issue.. you move the 200 servers when you have the time… to me this is more marketing that any thing else… shows NO I.T. savvy … but then again.. what do i know

    • plus with all the money that was spent on just charting the airplane… fuel and such… would of been cheaper to just throw the old 200 servers away and buy new ones


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