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Ten Essential Steps To A Successful Data Center Migration

Vinay Nagpal of Digital Realty Data Centers and Kelly Morgan of 451 Research participated in a webinar about data center migrations providing best practices and tips for successfully and efficiently moving infrastructure between data centers with minimal operational impact to your company.

There are many reasons why companies would need to physically move into a new data center. They may have outgrown their existing data center space. They could be looking to move from a retail data center to a wholesale colocation data center. They may not be satisfied with the services they receive from their existing data center provider. Or, they could be moving their data center because of a change to their company, strategy or organization.

Regardless of why a company may be moving, the process of moving a data center remains a big task. And much of the work lies in the planning, the budgeting and the preparation for the move.

10 Essential Steps When Planning A Data Center Migration:

1. Inventory everything…and we mean everything.

Over time, it’s relatively easy to lose track of exactly what data center hardware and resourced your company has. Unless your company has been rigorously keeping inventories of its equipment, the time before a data center migration is the right time to pull together a database of the equipment you have, model and ID numbers, power requirements and other necessary information. This will make it easier to plan the rest of the process and ensure that nothing is overlooked.

2. Read the fine print.


The IT department has many vendor relationships and contracts in place – what’s in them? Now is the time to find out. Can your network provider support you in your new location? If not, can you cancel that contract, and at what cost? What vendors are responsible for what, and how do you contact them for services and support during and after the data center migration? These are all questions that you should be able to answer before moving trucks are on their way. Also, check the warranties on all equipment to ensure that none of them become void because of a physical move.

3. Get your apps in order.

Ultimately, the data center only exists to power and enable the applications and IT services that are business-critical to the enterprise and its operations. Knowing what these applications are, where they live and which equipment powers them is essential to your planning. This makes an additional inventory of applications and which equipment they’re house on extremely important. It’s also important to identify who will test applications both before and after the move to ensure that they’re working and operating at the same levels following migration.

4. Ponder if it’s time for a refresh.

There is no better time to replace old hardware and systems then during a data center migration. Tech refreshes usually happen every 3-5 years, so use this opportunity to identify assets that are old and in need of an upgrade. Just be sure to test all critical applications to ensure that they can work on your new hardware, or you could be in for a big surprise when the new data center comes online.

5. Establish how much downtime is acceptable.

Can your data center go down for a few days without a problem? Or, will it cost your company hundreds of thousands of dollars if it goes down for a few minutes? You need to know which it is since that’s going to play a large part in how you migrate your data center and how much it’s going to cost. If some downtime is acceptable, then you can break down, move and rebuild your data center over the course of a weekend, and no one would be the wiser. But, if your data center, and the services it delivers, can’t be down at all, then you may need to lease equipment of purchase equipment for the new location and then cut over – and that can add to the price tag of your move.

6. Identify a chain of command, and who’s the boss.

Data center migrations are large, multi-pronged efforts that require participation from disparate organizations across the enterprise, and sometimes an outside consultant, all working together to physically break down, move and rebuild your data center in another location. And it oftentimes must be accomplished in a very tight window. To ensure that things are done in proper order, everyone is working collaboratively, and each team or organization is getting their tasks done, it’s essential to have someone in charge – especially someone that’s been there before. Establish a leader that has handled a data center migration – even if it’s an outside consultant – and ensure that everyone knows who they answer to.

7. Get your connectivity, cabling and electrical done.

There’s no reason to wait for the migration to get the cabling and electricity run for your new computer room and data center. Make sure that you work with the carriers at both the old and new location to ensure that your connectivity needs are met, especially if you need both sites operational for some time during the transition. It is never too early to start working with the carriers at the new location to make sure that their builds are done on time to provide you the dark or lit services that you may need. If you have a solid plan and schematics for where things will go, this work can be done in advance, meaning it’s ready and waiting for your hardware when it arrives. And leave room for expansion. Plan for 20 percent extra space and power so that your new data center can accommodate growth. In fact, while you’re already doing the word, build in extra racks. You may need them in the future.

8. Coordinate with facilities to identify bottlenecks.

There couldn’t possibly be anything worse than finding out your new, pre-populated server rack for your new data center doesn’t fit through the front door – or the back door. Luckily, there is a surefire way to avoid a situation like that – engage your facilities management team early and coordinate with them every step of the way, including the electrical distribution, cooling of the heat dissipated by the servers, and managing the airflow in the room. By doing so, you can avoid the mistakes like purchasing equipment that won’t fit through the door. You can also identify potential bottlenecks, such as shared elevators that could slow your move down.

9. Don’t let your security be an after-thought.

Just because biometric scanners or cameras are installed doesn’t mean that they’re working. And not having access to a data center or computer room when time is ticking on your data center migration can be frustrating and potentially costly. Test your security systems before the big day to ensure that everything is functioning and that everyone who needs access has it. If you need custom card access readers and/or biometrics installed in your compute environment, make sure that you work with your data center provider.

10. Test, test, test.

During a data center migration, time is of essence, and there are many unforeseen challenges and unexpected problems that can arise. The best way to identify them before the move and ensure that you’re more caught off-guard is to do test runs. Don’t leave anything to chance.

Vinay Nagpal and Kelly Morgan also discussed considerations and best practices for during-and-after the migration in their data center migration webinar, the role that data center providers can play in a migration, and reasons why companies may want to move data centers.

To see a webcast of the webinar, clickhere or click on the image below:

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