Rightmove keeps all datacentres in live use to protect uptime

Rightmove.co.uk has said it keeps its three datacentres in live use in the interest of business continuity and sustainability.

The property website said it chose this option over running some live datacentres and some standby sites, so that it could take the stress off each datacentre, particularly at peak times. The arrangement also allows for maintenance of any one location without affecting others.

Luke West, head of service delivery at the company, told delegates at today’s IDC ICT Efficiency and Sustainability Conference in London: “Each of our three datacentres is live and carrying data, with a similar amount of hardware, servers and storage. But we only need two out of the three datacentres to be running to handle peak traffic.”

“Most companies,” he said, “use live and standby sites, but this means each has to have the capacity for a near-full load and they have backup hardware sitting idle.”

Each visitor to the Rightmove website receives one of three IP addresses, according to the datacentre they are directed to.

In order to tackle inconsistencies between information from each site and keep all sites current, it implemented Quest Shareplex for Oracle, which replicates all database tables across sites within 0.25 seconds of change. The images on the sites are replicated with Netvault Replicator from supplier Bakbone.

West conceded, however, that this option was not realistic in some industries including finance where “perfect integrity” of millisecond-accurate data could be required.

In order to be “extra safe”, West said, each of Rightmove's datacentres is provided by a different supplier, with internet connections from a different company. They are also kept at a significant distance from each other to avoid them all being susceptible to the same natural disasters or power outages. Using NetApp Snaphot, it is able to access historical data for “rapid recovery” in the event of a disaster.

West said the uptime was vital, as the site receives over 600 million page impressions every month. More than a million properties are live on the company’s website, and it holds in storage 18 million historical records.

Rightmove’s key datacentre infrastructure includes an Oracle database and NetApp storage.

In other projects, Rightmove has used Sun Solaris Containers virtualisation, removing 50 Sun SPARC servers and moving to x86 blades, which it said were “faster, cheaper and cooler”.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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