Home Properties – CentriLogic Case Study

Home Properties Relies on CentriLogic for IT Infrastructure and Application Delivery 

Home Properties is a publicly-held, real estate investment trust (REIT) based in Rochester, NY, that owns and operates 119 apartment communities in suburbs of major metropolitan areas primarily on the East Coast. The company’s business model revolves around acquiring, owning, operating, rehabilitating and developing apartment communities and delivering excellent customer service to attract and retain long-term residents, according to Chris Berson, VP of Information Systems.

IT strategy: highly available services, top-notch customer service

Home Properties’ Information Systems group has focused on implementing and maintaining a suite of applications and systems supporting core processes and services for employees and residents alike. The company’s property management operations platform is central to managing the complete customer lifecycle, from initial interest through lease signing, to moving in residents and managing the move-out process.

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The property management system must always be available and integrate seamlessly with other on-premise and third-party systems to support tasks such as online application processing, applicant screening, online payments and much more.  Home Properties’ corporate website and individual community sites are another key piece of the company’s customer relationship strategy that fosters the close relationship that property management teams have built with residents over the years.

“A constant theme of our business is to attract those residents who want to live in a quality apartment with the amenities that are important to them and then strive to provide excellent customer service so we can build a long-term relationship,” Berson says. “A key part of this is to support the incredible service that our leasing and service professionals provide at the communities with reliable, secure technology services that are always available when they need them.”

Getting out of the data center business

Several years ago, the company began the process of reassessing its data center located at the central office in Rochester. Berson and his team were faced with the decision of upgrading the facility or outsourcing: the latter strategy won out quickly. “We wanted to transfer the effort and risk of managing our data center to a third-party provider that specializes in those services,” Berson says. “We didn’t want to worry about backup power, cooling, fire suppression, physical security and maintaining the facility any longer.”

In 2010, after a competitive RFP process, the company chose CentriLogic as its data center hosting partner. CentriLogic was selected based on several factors: a state-of-the-art facility conveniently located in Rochester to support the first phase of co-locating critical production equipment; the ideal location of the CentriLogic Buffalo data center to support the second phase of setting up a disaster recovery location as a warm-site; and CentriLogic’s broad experience with small and large customers. The hosting firm’s wide spectrum of services including co-location, managed services and private and public cloud services for customers needing the flexibility and scalability of on-demand computing was also appealing. “We liked the fact that CentriLogic communicated a plan to grow and scale that made sense to us.” Berson says.

Benefits with CentriLogic

Today, Home Properties has all critical application systems and most production systems hosted by CentriLogic. Home Properties uses CentriLogic’s co-location services to host its business applications, their public cloud services to host the corporate website, and CentriLogic’s Buffalo data center to support development and test environments and for off-site data storage and disaster recovery.

Home Properties was primarily motivated to outsource for the purpose of maintaining a secure, reliable and stable infrastructure and to transfer the risk of data center management externally. “Moving to CentriLogic has released a huge burden from the Information Systems group and, frankly, is a benefit to senior management because we no longer have to allocate resources to develop and maintain our own data center facilities,” says Berson.  The investments that Home Properties were faced with had they not made this transition included implementing improved fire-suppression and cooling systems and mitigating the risk of power interruptions by installing a rooftop generator.   “We now have a predictable spend every year for data center infrastructure and we can redirect resources to innovations that add value to our business,” Berson says.

Specific benefits of working with CentriLogic include:

Rapid response to issues: When the Home Properties’ corporate website was threatened by a broad based denial of service (DDoS) attack, CentriLogic’s engineers responded immediately and worked with Internet service providers to expedite an investigation and response to successfully block that attack.  CentriLogic responded similarly when the company needed temporary bandwidth increases for data migrations and other urgent requests.

Business continuity:  When Home Properties’ central office experienced a building-wide power outage due to construction work, UPS power in the building was limited and all in-house systems went down for an extended period of time.  The critical systems hosted at CentriLogic were not affected.  “If there was ever a perfect illustration of the value of their services to us, that was it,” Berson says.  This event was a catalyst to accelerate the migration of other critical systems to CentriLogic’s facility.

Experimentation and continual improvement:  Berson and his team worked closely with CentriLogic’s team to conduct a pilot for a private cloud configuration to support the property management application.  “We loved the flexibility and support that CentriLogic offered us during this experiment,” Berson says. “Their collaboration and expertise allowed us to make an informed decision and ultimately settle on a configuration that was most appropriate for our company.”

“We view CentriLogic as an integral part of our team,” Berson remarks. “This relationship helps avoid significant challenges and risk associated with providing reliable data center services internally.”