Pimp my datacenter: SilverBack Migration Solutions

The strong-backed experts at SilverBack had us racked, cabled, and reconfigured in record time

One of the most important vendors behind our project's success brought no hardware to the party at all. SilverBack Migrations Solutions, based in Walnut Creek, Calif., is a datacenter build-out and migration consultancy staffed entirely by large-stomached ex-corporate IT and facilities geeks. You may recall that, in the main part of this story (see "Five lessons of a datacenter overhaul"), we lamented our inadequate planning and stretched-thin human resources. Both of these are common problems for a project of this scope, and they are exactly the issues that a company like SilverBack can go a long way to mitigate.

“If it’s part of a datacenter project, we’ll handle it,” says the company’s CEO and founder Ken Jamaca. He began SilverBack after losing one too many jobs to datacenter consolidation and decided to join the trend instead. With datacenter usage and build-outs increasing nationwide, and existing datacenters being overhauled for greener footprints, SilverBack is both successful and growing quickly. “Our value is entirely in expertise,” says Jamaca. “We get paid for getting it done faster and more reliably than the client could have imagined.”

[ Watch the video: Brian Chee on the SilverBack gorillas. Return to the "Pimp my datacenter" intro for the background on our datacenter makeover, and links to more cool and cutting-edge datacenter gear. Read about our project's hurdles, and tips for avoiding them, in "Five lessons of a datacenter overhaul." ]

We heard that boast at the 2006 spring Interop trade show, where we first met the SilverBack folks. A few months later, they followed through on every word, conquering a 10-rack installation of our new APC InfraStruXure gear in just a few hours. They capped that feat by populating those racks with servers from around the university -- a job for which we’d originally slated three full days -- in a single night. SilverBack’s geek gorillas also took part in the migration planning and documentation phase and even made some good suggestions on choosing equipment and providing system configurations. Whatever needed doing, they ate it up like bananas. Whether it was running cable, lacing up a wiring harness, documenting rack connections, racking/packing/stacking servers, or just being darn right helpful, the gorillas came through.

Our advice for working with a company like SilverBack: Engage them early, and involve them as completely as possible in the planning stages of the project. They don't read minds, so if you don’t put in the planning beforehand, you'll end up spinning the wheels of your high-priced labor. Ours was a relatively small project, but we still could have used more of their expertise than our planning allowed us to take advantage of. To hear Jamaca tell it, while most of SilverBack's customers are higher-end Fortune 2000 companies with sizable IT budgets, the guys at SilverBack will look at any project. And if we’re any judge, they’ll add value to each one. Just be aware that they’re a little evangelistic about that gorilla logo of theirs, so you might find a few stuck to parts of your datacenter after they leave. We found 17.

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