A sweet deal: How Tasty Baking Co. moved its data center in 13 hours

When moving operations, planning and practice runs are key

Sometimes, waiting for a long time can make the result all the sweeter.

That's been the case at Tasty Baking Co. of Philadelphia, when it moved out of its cramped factory building and into a new state-of-the-art data center and bakery facilities across town. It's been an IT manager's dream.

There are no more unidentifiable, spaghetti-like, ancient coaxial, Ethernet and telephone cables and wires running who-knows-where through the ceilings and floors in the data center. The IT staff is no longer crunched together in a small, windowless room in the midst of the noisy, server-filled space in an old brick factory building, which was always freezing cold regardless of the season.

Tangled wires atop servers

Jumbled messes like this will not be missed in Tasty Baking's new data center. Source: Tasty Baking Co.

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And the new space even has new gear, because, in 2007, while still in the old data center, the IT staff replaced all the computing and networking equipment.

Now, in the new facility, other needed, overdue IT upgrades can also finally be possible because no further compromises have to be made to fit inside an old factory that was never meant to house a data center when it was built.

All of those improvements and more happened in April, when the data center and business offices of the snack-cakes bakery led the move from the crowded building in the city's North Philadelphia section to a new site at what was the U.S. Navy Yard at the south tip of the city. The bakery began moving some product lines into the new building in November, with the final relocations of all product lines expected by next summer.

New wire management system

The new data center sports a a cable management system that is well-marked. Source: Todd R. Weiss

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Being able to start from scratch meant that many existing problems could be solved all at once, from finding more space for the staff to improving power, cooling and maintenance for the IT equipment, says Brendan H. O'Malley, vice president and CIO.

Key to the experience: "We had great lead time," O'Malley says. IT started the whole relocation project more than two years ahead of the actual move, as part of a regularly scheduled server refresh. In May 2007, just as the refresh project was beginning, the company announced its plans to move to its new location. That meant that the IT department, which typically leases all of its servers and other equipment, had plenty of time to make preparations and obtain new hardware for its all-new data center before construction ever began.

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