The Joint Server Farm (JSF) is a shared secure hosting environment established by the MOD for all public web hosting, including all the hosting needs for British Army, Royal Navy and RAF recruitment web sites, as well as ArmyNET, the communications portal for soldiers to use to communicate with their families wherever they may be in the world.

The JSF is a single infrastructure based on leading-edge private cloud technology bringing together all the service websites and applications into one highly manageable structure. Its unique, virtualised structure enables easy management and offers huge scalability and flexibility along with maximum efficiency.

The JSF was born out of business necessity. Ever increasing interest in the role of the British Armed Forces led to a rapid increase in the number of physical servers which were deployed in support of the JSF. The number of servers involved together with a wide range of different MOD organisations involved in the JSF soon verged on being impractical for efficient and economic operation. Practicality, economics and security, along with the need to provide for ongoing expansion meant that the MOD had to look very carefully at its hosting infrastructure and achieve a solution that would meet every need whilst maintaining the guarantees of security, uptime and support.

The tender documentation for a new solution was sent to 18 companies, all of which had to submit their proposals to the MOD for the provision of hosting services and support based on the demanding criteria.
Of the 18 companies just 5 were invited to tender for the business. Rackspace® Hosting won the contract with a unique approach based on the latest private cloud technology and their already renowned Fanatical Support® SLA.

The MOD chose Rackspace because of its advanced virtualisation approach to the problem and the company’s vast experience in providing outstanding customer service well beyond that which you would normally expect.

To bring the Joint Server Farm into reality, Rackspace consolidated 67 servers into 12 hypervisors and 72 virtual servers, by implementing virtualisation across the entire MOD infrastructure. This approach provided far greater flexibility and enabled the MOD to cater for surges in demand without ever stressing the structure. The use of V-motion technology ensures hardware problems are minimised and, in the unlikely event of hardware failure, no services are interrupted. Web downtime has been virtually eliminated. The result is a far greater utilisation of server capability through virtual machines, and the ability to cope with high growth or fluctuation by making scaling simple through rapid virtual machine addition.
The benefits are vast; greater power efficiency in less actual space, as well as far fewer physical servers – a truly green solution for an age where exceptional efficiency and genuine cost saving really count.

The new solution enables MOD partners to manage and change websites quickly to meet user demand and to set up new applications It also provides considerably enhanced security through a range of measures that constantly monitor the system for online threats. The entire package is supported 24/7/365 by dedicated lead technicians and a team of level III certified engineers and Rackspace’s 100% network uptime guarantee.

Where the migration of the applications is usually conducted by the individual website owners, the British Army Recruitment Group had some very complex SharePoint® sites and did not have the in-house expertise to migrate them. Rackspace’s Professional Services Department took on the project. This involved gaining intimate working knowledge of some very complex sites including StartThinkingSoldier, and, and also engaging Rackspace SharePoint support. The entire project was designed and implemented within a 3-month period.

Rackspace had previously provided the hosting services for the awardwinning ArmyNET among other sites in the original JSF. This, along with the new partner sites has now been incorporated into the redesigned and reformatted JSF on the private cloud. ArmyNET allows soldiers to keep in touch with their families and access useful administrative information from a secure login, wherever they happen to be in the world. Such services are vital for morale and play a great part in keeping everyone in touch with what is happening in their lives. Cloud hosting and virtualisation is critical to the future of computing. Many companies are seeking to buy computing as a service along with the support and expertise that guarantees them 100% uptime. We are on the edge of a computing revolution and set to offer significant services that will free companies from the confines of hardware, software and IT support.

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