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Fabric Networking Solution Significantly Reduces Cost, Risk and Complexity Associated with Migrating Key Disaster Recovery Data Centre


After the Westpac and St.George merger, the banks embarked on a long-term data centre consolidation program.

St.George had been using Avaya networking equipment for some time, running a fleet of high-end core and premium wiring closet Ethernet Switches to support the corporate sites and two major data centres. The network was managed in-house by WBC Telecommunications.

However, these products were ageing and at risk of failure, and required a high level of maintenance that demanded the time of multiple IT support groups. In addition, St.George’s data centre operations and engineering model didn’t comply with Westpac’s operations strategy.

As part of the data centre consolidation project, Westpac wanted to relocate St.George’s disaster recovery (DR) data centre from Sydney CBD to a new location in Western Sydney. Westpac also wanted to establish a high-speed Ethernet connection between the data centres to replicate the existing applications and services across the sites before gradually relocating the physical servers.

The traditional approach for extending a network between three sites would be to provision virtual local area networks (VLANs) on every edge, distribution and core switch between the data centres. However, this would be a complex, timeconsuming and risky process that could lead to costly unscheduled outages. In a further complication, the new Western Sydney location didn’t support St.George’s legacy VLAN assignments, which meant the VLAN would need to be translated.

“The project was posing quite a challenge to St.George’s WBC Telecommunications,” said Daniel Paull, Infrastructure Technical Lead – Telecommunications, Westpac Group.

“The established vendor’s solution was attempted, but it required multiple iterations of code with only varying degrees of success and subsequent unplanned outages.”

Daniel Paull, Senior Infrastructure Technical Lead Telecommunications, Westpac Group

Westpac requested a revised design from this vendor. However, the updated proposal presented the bank with substantial financial risk: it was much more complex, required double the hardware and would fail to meet deadlines for commitments relating to staging and provisioning equipment and ongoing maintenance resources.


St.George engaged Avaya to develop an alternative solution and proposed this contingency plan to the joint project team.

The project team deemed Avaya’s Fabric Connect network virtualisation an appropriate alternative solution and decided to use this Shortest Path Bridging-based technology to span all three data centres.

Fabric Connect is a network-wide virtualisation solution. It simplifies network design, deployment and management by creating a ‘network fabric’ within and between data centres. Fabric Connect is a key component in the Avaya VENA toolkit of next-generation technologies and products.

Switches ‘learn’ the shortest paths through the Ethernet network and can automatically adjust to any topology changes. This delivers a network virtualisation that is easy to deploy within an enterprise environment, provides greater scalability and reduces network complexity.

Avaya and WBC Telecommunications replicated the proposed Fabric Connect network in Avaya’s labs to demonstrate how the solution would work. Avaya then collaborated with the bandwidth provider to design, build and implement phase one in just six weeks. This included upgrading existing switches and deploying two new Avaya Ethernet Routing Switch 8800 systems at the Western Sydney data centre. Phase one of the migration went live in January 2013 and Westpac completed the initial data centre consolidation project in May 2013. Subsequent phases involved the upgrade of the entire ERS 8800 fleet.

“Although Fabric Connect can be deployed for projects such as this in days, we deployed the network over a pre-planned six-week period,” said Phil Clipperton, Account Director, Avaya. “By following proven steps, making gradual changes and installing the switches at the same time, we reduced the risk to the network and ensured the bank only experienced minutes of scheduled downtime.”

“We chose Avaya over the alternative vendors as the company’s Fabric Connect solution was cost-effective, fit-for-purpose and could be deployed rapidly,”

Daniel Paull, Senior Infrastructure Technical Lead Telecommunications, Westpac Group

Westpac Bank

“We have built a trusted relationship with Avaya, and thoroughly commend its professional services team members for their commitment,” said Paull.



With Fabric Connect, Westpac’s data centre relocation team was able to bridge the networks between all three data centres in just 15 minutes, creating a low impact change control regime. The bank also ‘stripped’ the VLAN network-edge services at the DR data centre in only a few minutes after it completed the migration and demoted the original DR centre to a ‘corporate’ site. Phase one of the DR data centre migration was so successful that Westpac upgraded the rest of its St.George fleet to enable the Fabric Connect technology. The bank’s data centre migration team continues to use the technology for other legacy data centre consolidations.

“Fabric Connect’s main strength has been its straightforward, fast and low-risk deployment capabilities for data centre–to–data centre migration,” said Paull. “Migration activities have been significantly easier than anticipated, which has reduced design costs, labour requirements, project complexity and operational risk.”

The solution allows the bank to bypass WBC’s incumbent data centre management vendor for more significant and complex changes, improving deployment time by months and avoiding the vendor’s design process and costs.


Avaya’s Fabric Connect has allowed Westpac to make any changes to its applications and services at the edge of the St.George network, rather than at the core. This has reduced the time taken to provision temporary and permanent bridged connections between data centres.

"The Avaya solution reduces the complexity and risk of making changes on the core network, which enables us to be far more agile with new and upgraded applications and services.”

Daniel Paull, Senior Infrastructure Technical Lead Telecommunications, Westpac Group

“We have reduced time to market for our banking products and solutions, and ensured maximum availability for our customers,” stated Paull. “We have also significantly reduced the operational downtime required to make any network changes.”

Westpac has also minimised the risk of unscheduled outages by ensuring the stability of the network core.


As part of its investment, Westpac’s St.George Bank has deployed Avaya Configuration and Orchestration Manager to consolidate its network management. This reduces the administration, complexity and cost of configuring, provisioning and troubleshooting the network.

“The relocation and server teams have nothing but praise for the Avaya solution,” said Paull. “It has made their day-to-day ad hoc and scheduled work much easier.”

“The Avaya solution has ensured that our relocation and server teams are now one step ahead of their tasks, rather than always playing catch-up.”

Daniel Paull, Senior Infrastructure Technical Lead Telecommunications, Westpac Group

Westpac Bank
  • Headquarters:

  • Australia

  • # Employees:

  • 36000

Westpac Banking Corporation was the first bank established in Australia and is now one of country’s largest banking groups. It employs approximately 36,000 people (full time equivalent) in Australia, New Zealand and around the world, and has almost 12 million customers. In 2008, Westpac merged with St.George Bank. St.George has numerous corporate offices and hundreds of branches across Australia, which also includes the Bank of Melbourne and BankSA brands.

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“The Avaya solution has ensured that our relocation and server teams are now one step ahead of their tasks, rather than always playing catch-up.”

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  • Daniel Paull

  • Westpac Bank