Salmat to embark on massive data centre consolidation

Telephony refresh, other projects on the table

Australian customer communications solution company Salmat (ASX: SLM) is in the planning stages of shrinking 35 data centre sites across the country down to just two.

Expected to take up to four years, the project will mean sites in states from Western Australia to Tasmania will be sold and data shifted to the Sydney suburb of St. Leonards and Ravenhall, Victoria.

Salmat CIO, David Hackshall, told CIO Australia the consolidation is part of a private Cloud strategy and cost savings.

“We’re discussing if we should just use one site and go to market for the rest. Salmat is identifying the costs to shore up facilities such as power and cooling,” he said.

The large amount of data centre infrastructure is due to business acquisitions and growing data needs over time. While the project is still in planning mode, stage one is due to begin in mid 2011.

Hackshall explained that St. Leonards and Ravenhall have additional capacity which can accommodate Salmat’s data needs. However, the company is yet to make a final decision on these sites.

Founded in 1979 as a small catalogue delivery service, Salmat has since grown into a global business with over 7000 employees working in eight countries.

The company specialises in one-to-one communication on a mass scale and assists clients in contacting their customers via a range of communication channels, including voice, online, print, electronic and mobile.

“Everything we do is powered by our IT capability because we process an enormous amount of data and convert that data into communication strings to our clients through multiple channels such a text message or email,” said Hackshall.

As part of the consolidation, he is working to ensure that it has the right rack density and level of virtualisation across its infrastructure.

“We want to be able to commission an environment quickly and that’s fundamentally what we’re trying to achieve here,” he said.

The four year consolidation will be broken down into sub projects with the first one consolidating multiple email systems and an Active Directory environment.

“The next stage will be our Wintel environment and how we can consolidate and rationalise. We’re not kidding ourselves, we can’t do this all at once or we will kill ourselves,” he said. “So the plan is to do this in an orderly fashion.”

In tandem with the consolidation project is a planned technology refresh within its call centre which currently uses Alcatel Lucent PABX technology. This will see Salmat move from copper based PABX networks to vendor agnostic voice over IP (VoIP)technology. However, it plans to retain the Alcatel Lucent telephony equipment where possible rather than replacing it at cost.

According to Hackshall, the Salmat business will never stay still as it is constantly innovating and evolving.

“This means that a change programme will evolve as well. Certain initiatives have taken a short time to accomplish, such as structural alignment changes and network consolidation,” he said.

In October 2010, Salmat built an SME portal which enables SME clients to go online, draw down from a series of templates and build their own marketing campaign.

The company will print the campaign for the client and distribute it based on when they want the campaign to take place.

“That’s an extension of current capability which is enhancing an existing market segment that allows us to go out and engage with significantly more of the SME market,” said Hackshall.

Follow Hamish Barwick on Twitter: @HamishBarwick

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU

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