Behind the Scenes of the Bloglines Datacenter Move (Part 1)

One week ago, we moved the Bloglines service from the AT&T datacenter in Redwood City, CA to MCI in Bedford, Massachusetts. This was a challenging and complex undertaking that required months of preparation by many groups. Now that the dust has settled, over the next couple of days I’ll explain some of the process involved.
We had been at AT&T since Bloglines first went on-line in June, 2003, and had been very happy with them. AT&T is a tier 1 colocation facility. They aren’t the cheapest, but we never had to worry about power outages or other issues that can crop up with other facilities. After we were acquiried by Ask Jeeves in February, we started talking about moving the Bloglines service to the main Ask facility, which is in Massachusetts. This made sense for a number of reasons: it would be easier for operations, it would be easier for us to quickly expand in the future, and it would be easier for us to tie into other parts of Ask Jeeves.
Once the decision was made to move, we had two tasks: figure out how many machines to build out in Bedford, and figure out how to do the move with the minimum amount of downtime. In my experience, estimating how much hardware you’ll need at some point in the future can be difficult, especially when you’re growing quickly and you don’t have a lot of history to use in estimating. I believe in the concept of overwhelming firepower (when in doubt, double or triple it), so we overestimated everything. In the end, the new system has 3 times the number of machines that we were running in Redwood City, and each of those machines is probably twice as fast as any of the old boxes. Once operations had the configurations, they set about ordering, installing, and configuring the machines. That left us with having to figure out how to move the site across the country while minimizing downtime.
I’ll continue that part of the story tomorrow.