Alcatel-Lucent consolidates data centers, picks up extra cash by renting out space

Paris facility is centerpiece of consolidation project

Alcatel-Lucent has built a highly secure data center outside Paris to meet its own needs and earn extra money by renting out space to customers.

Looking for some ultra-secure data center space in the Paris, France, area? Alcatel-Lucent has a deal for you.

The company has built a Tier 4 data center in Marcoussis, just outside Paris, as part of a three-year consolidation project and plans to rent out large portions of it to make some extra money. Several well-known global companies are close to signing deals to rent out space, attracted by its status as a Tier 4 data center -- the most secure type constructed today, company officials say.

"Tier 4-level data center space within Europe is hard to come by, which is why there are many companies interested in what's going on here," says Cliff Tozier, vice president of IT infrastructure for Alcatel-Lucent.

After the merger of Alcatel and Lucent Technologies a little over a year ago, the combined company found itself with 25 data centers around the world plus another 125 server rooms (each containing fewer than 100 servers).

Now a year into the three-year consolidation plan, Alcatel-Lucent aims to reduce its footprint to six data centers and, if possible, zero or close to zero server rooms. Through lots of virtualization, decommissioning applications, and consolidating onto new hardware, the company is reducing its number of servers from about 10,000 to 6,000 or 7,000.

Savings from consolidation and expected earnings from renting out data center space could help Alcatel-Lucent offset some financial troubles suffered since the merger.

The six consolidated data centers will include three in Asia, one in Germany, and two Tier 4 centers -- one in Chicago built a few years ago and the newly opened one in Marcoussis.

The French facility is the centerpiece, hosting Alcatel-Lucent's highest-end applications, like ERP and financial systems, Tozier says.

Tier 4 data centers are supposed to meet certain physical security requirements while having redundant power and cooling systems and multiple distribution paths that are fault tolerant, all aimed at achieving 99.995% availability.

Alcatel-Lucent constructed two buildings of 2,000 square meters apiece in Marcoussis, with nearly identical buildings in a mirror site for disaster recovery 3 kilometers away. Alcatel-Lucent uses predominantly its own networking equipment, along with servers and storage from various major suppliers including HP, which helped design the data center. Inside each building, cement and steel firewalls separating each room would prevent even a small disaster from escalating, Tozier says.

Alcatel-Lucent will use one of the two buildings for its own work, which involves monitoring the networks and managing and supporting hosted applications for large service providers.

The rest of the space will be leased. Although no customers are using the data center yet, Tozier expects demand to be so high that Alcatel-Lucent will have to construct more buildings beyond the two on the site already.

"As there are new tenants, new buildings will be built," he says. "Construction will stay ahead of the demand."

Alcatel-Lucent says the TCO for its own operations will improve by 25%. "The availability is increasing significantly because we're going from often very disparate smaller locations that don't have the same redundancy to a much higher availability data center," Tozier says.

About 850 Alcatel-Lucent servers were relocated from geographically dispersed data centers to Marcoussis.

Alcatel-Lucent officials wouldn't reveal how much they're charging companies for data center space, but they say they expect to save millions of euros in their own operating costs by consolidating into the Marcoussis center.

Alcatel-Lucent financed the construction in a joint venture with Colony Capital, a real estate investment firm.

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