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Credit: Florian Krumm

International Data Center Deployment – Smart Hands Support

With FGX’s dedicated project management professional on-site, over 400 devices were installed across 30 cabinets within two weeks.

The Case Study

Client Need

A leading media and broadcast provider needed to quickly expand their capabilities, as part of a rapid European expansion project. To support these new customers throughout the EU, our client had to stand up a complete data center environment in Amsterdam including network, storage, compute, and digital broadcast capabilities. The data center stack included custom built components that had to be sourced domestically and exported to the co-located facility. Without a business entity set up, or local resources in the EU, they needed a partner to provide importer of record services and on-the-ground smart hands support. The project’s aggressive timeline required intensive project management and transparency across technical, product, and business teams.

Our Plan

FGX built a solution to enable the client to leverage their domestic manufacturer and VAR relationships to take advantage of their competitive volume pricing and quick delivery SLAs. Once purchased, the gear from over 13 different manufacturers would be drop-shipped to FGX’s staging facility in New York City.

FGX would manifest each item by part and serial number and we would provide this data, along with photos of each component and a scan of the packing list in our secure service portal.

FGX would utilize our IATA membership to tender the hardware on direct flights from New York to Amsterdam and would provide an importer of record service to facilitate the import customs clearance. Once safely delivered to the data center, FGX’s smart hands team would unpack, asset tag, and install all the hardware to the client’s exact specification.

The Results

As each shipment bill of materials was finalized, FGX’s compliance team compiled the export documentation by liaising with individual manufacturer contacts. Each shipment was simulated with customs prior to departure to ensure the documentation was valid and that all compliance requirements had been met.

Utilizing direct commercial flights, the equipment arrived in Amsterdam overnight and began customs processing the day of arrival. FGX managed the entire customs process on behalf of the client, provided the importer of record service, and completed clearance within 2 business days.

Once cleared, the equipment was delivered to the data center, where FGX’s smart hands team was waiting to unpack, re-inventory, asset tag, and mount each device in accordance with the client’s elevation diagrams. Our local project manager provided the client with progress updates twice a day and worked to quickly resolve any issues uncovered during the course of the installation.

The client was extremely pleased with the quality of FGX’s smart hands resources and later expanded the scope of the SOW to include power &network cabling. This first phase of the project was completed on schedule and plans for further expansion are currently in the works.

When conducting a large scale deployment of IT equipment into Europe, you need to have a partner capable of managing the entire project beginning to end. FGX’s inventory management system coupled with our logistics expertise and upstream data center services enable our clients to focus on architecting their solutions rather than worrying about the logistics. Furthermore, our importer of record service allows our clients to import all of their custom-configured equipment without having an EU business entity.

Real-Time Inventory Visibility:

  • Manifest all equipment as it arrives at the export facility to ensure all components are received as ordered from the manufacturers.
  • Photograph & upload manufacturer labels and packing lists to provide full transparency to the client’s procurement team.

Customs Clearance & Importer of Record Services:

  • Manage the classification of all part numbers, HTS Codes and ECCN numbers for the equipment in each shipment.
  • Provide an importer of record service to facilitate the import process on behalf of the client, when they don’t have a local business, or the authorization to import.
  • Calculate duties & taxes up front, then work with the client to ensure the customs deferment accounts are funded prior to each shipment’s departure.

Smart Hands Support from Cabling to Power-On:

  • Deploy local resources to unpack and asset tag all devices as they arrive at the data center.
  • Follow the client’s elevation diagram to ensure all devices are mounted in the required cabinet locations.
  • Mobilize skilled data center technicians to assist the client with power, coax, cat 6, and fiber cabling.

Smart Hands Support :

Resources trained in data center installation services who can handle everything from unpacking equipment, inventorying & asset tagging hardware, and rack-mounting devices to custom pre-cut cabling of cat6, fiber, coax, and grounding wire.

The Project in Numbers

FGX was instrumental in helping our client manage the project from procurement through power on. We maintained organization and transparency by centralizing our client’s purchase orders and the final shipping manifests in our service portal.

The status and current location of each device was available in real time throughout the project. FGX completed the data center installation by closely managing the smart hands team on the ground in Amsterdam.

Total Shipment Value: $7 Million USD

433 Components: Routers, Switches, Firewalls, Broadcast Devices & More

30 Cabinets Racked: Unpacked, asset tagged, mounted, & cabled all the gear

12 Just-in-time Shipments: Over 18,000 lbs of equipment

13 Manufacturers: Cisco, EMC, Supermicro, Tektronix, Evertz & more

The Plan & Execution

FGX devised a project execution road-map based on the client’s required deadline to go live. This detailed outline provided our client, the VAR, and FGX with structured guidance and transparency on all deadlines. The dedicated project manager assigned also ensured that all parties stayed on task and were aware of the dependencies related to their assigned tasks.

Timeline to Delivery

Inventory Management

In order to ensure that all stakeholders had full visibility into how the entire project was moving along, FGX tagged each individual piece with a unique barcode which was used to update the inventory management module in our service portal in real-time.

As each parcel arrived at FGX’s facility, the manufacturer label was photographed and uploaded along with a scan of the packing list. From arrival at FGX, to installation in the overseas data center, each piece of equipment was traceable by the Manufacturer Serial Number, FGX’s Carton ID/Waybill Number, and the Client’s Asset Tag. The below statuses indicate the level of granularity of our tracking system.

FGX’s customs compliance team proceeded to liaise with the 7 different manufacturers involved to procure the following set of documents for each component:

Asset Tagging

FGX coordinated with each of the client’s hardware vendors and updated our service portal with the tracking status of each inbound shipment. This provided our client with visibility into the anticipated arrival date for each device across all manufacturers. When production delays occurred, FGX alerted the client and gave them the flexibility to ship critical devices as they were received at our export facility.

Inventory Management

Constant Communication

In addition to providing the client with online tools to view the current status of all aspects of the project, FGX’s dedicated project manager worked to ensure that all stakeholders were kept up to speed and could be called upon to quickly resolve any issues. FGX liaised directly with the hardware manufacturers, VARs, distributors, client teams, the local smart hands resources at each destination, as well as the data center staff.

To augment the smaller updates sent several times per day, the FGX project manager also organized weekly status updates with the broader group of stakeholders. These meetings provided all client teams with the latest progress of each shipment as it was received, prepared for export, cleared through customs, delivered to the data center, and installed in the client’s cage.

Door-to-Door Shipping

As soon as the client authorized a deployment from available stock, FGX’s trained IT packing team palletized the equipment, then added an additional protective layer of cardboard and bubble wrap, before strapping it down. Once packing was completed and all documentation had been pre-approved by the FGX’s customs team, the shipment was tendered on a direct flight to Amsterdam.

Our IATA membership enables FGX to utilize any commercial or cargo airline with available space to transport the equipment as quickly as possible. The shipments safely arrived in Amsterdam less than 24 hours after departing from New York.

Upon clearing customs, FGX organized a dedicated vehicle to recover the shipment from the airport and deliver it directly to the destination data center, where our smart hands team was ready and waiting for the arrival of the equipment to begin the install.

Customs Clearance with FGX Importer of Record

As the client was new to the European market, they did not yet have a business entity set up with authorization to import IT hardware. To prevent having to wait several months for their EU business entity to form, the client requested FGX’s Importer of Record (IOR) service to clear the shipments immediately.

FGX’s customs specialists classified each part number with a tariff code as well as ECCN number to ensure proper declarations. In order to expedite the clearance process as much as possible, duties & taxes were pre-paid to Dutch Customs in advance of each shipment arriving at the border.

Once each shipment arrived at customs, paperwork already having been filed, and taxes pre-paid, the shipments were swiftly processed and cleared. Following customs clearance procedures using our importer of record (IOR) service, the shipments were released for final delivery to the data center.

Smart Hands Support

Coupling a high-stakes logistics & compliance company, like FGX, with a global team of data center specialists is a natural evolution forward for our suite of services. Typical international deployments require you to work with many vendors to accomplish your goals, but with FGX managing the deployment from procurement to power-on, we ensure all parties are in-sync and smart hands resources are mobilized within minutes of new hardware arriving at the data center.

Our client was planning to send senior engineers to the data center outside Amsterdam, however the scale of this deployment led them to seek additional help. FGX stepped in and provided a comprehensive smart hands solution to receive, unpack, and inventory the hardware as it arrived at the destination data center. Once brought into the client’s cage, our specialists asset tagged and rack-mounted each device in accordance with the client’s strict guidelines and detailed elevation diagram.

With FGX’s dedicated project management professional on-site, over 400 devices were installed across 30 cabinets within two weeks. Once the client’s engineers arrived, they were extremely pleased with the quality of the work and enlisted FGX’s help to further install airflow accessories, grounding cables, and eventually fiber/ethernet uplinks. As additional equipment is ordered & configured in the USA, then shipped with FGX to the Dutch data center, our smart hands resources are available to further build out the data center cage.

As of the writing of this case study, FGX offers smart hands services in over 15 major cities worldwide. Please reach out to us to learn more about our full suite of services and discuss how we can be of assistance with your next international infrastructure deployment.