September 24, 2019

Change is Hard: How DataBank Supports Complex Migrations

When Migration Looms: from Business Model Changes to End of Hardware Life

Data center migrations are an inevitable part of the technology lifecycle. They can be triggered by a number of business change events including:

  • Current data center no long meets business needs for space and power
  • Data center is outdated and needs to be remodeled
  • Spending time and resources on the internal data center is negatively impacting the core mission
  • Hardware has reached end of life
  • There aren’t enough internal resources to manage an internal data center
  • Digital transformation is in process and requires a different model for IT

But no matter the cause, one thing is certain: getting equipment from one location to another can be a difficult undertaking regardless of whether you’re considering colocation or fully managed hosting services.

Luckily, DataBank can help, by drawing on a long history of migrations and deep institutional knowledge on the best practices for making a migration successful.

Avoiding the Minefields of Migrations

The potential for downtime is often the greatest cause for concern when a migration is impending. It can affect the ability of customers, employees and partners to do business, and seriously damage reputation and brand. Without a proper plan, it’s not possible to move your production site without incurring downtime.

Determining whether the migration will be a “lift and shift” or a “progressive path” is a second key step. In some cases, lift and shift is easiest. The entire environment will come down at the same time, then back up. But in other cases, a multi-staged migration may be necessary as not all businesses are able to move their entire environment at once. These progressive path scenarios involve a series of smaller migration phases and can present a number of challenges of their own. For instance, if a particular app needs to access to a database in order to function, a planned database replication and cut-over may be needed or the application will fail.
Where applications and infrastructure need to meet stringent compliance requirements, migrations can become even more complex and additional planning, process, experience, and staffing are critical. While maintaining a compliant environment is one thing, migration to and from one often requires internal resources to work outside their primary competencies. Having staff or a partner with the experience to plan each step in the migration is critical to avoiding downtime and maintaining compliance.

Tapping Experienced Partners For Migration Success

A physical equipment migration isn’t usually standard expertise for an IT professional. When it comes to a colocation environment, moving equipment on your own, especially without the proper hardware certifications, can go awry easily. It’s a whole different skillset than typical racking and stacking.

This is where a proven data center partner that specializes in migration becomes critical. It’s not just about facilities that can meet customer needs for scalability. It’s about having the mix of services to aid in a migration and the experience to de-risk one. With a full complement of colocation and cloud options, DataBank has all the bases covered from a platform standpoint. Contract and revenue portability among our services means we can deploy whatever services are needed to facilitate a migration, even if the eventual mix of services changes. Our deep mix of managed services means customers can rely on DataBank for server patches, application support, database administration or network support during a migration. And our security and compliance certifications ensure a migration is conducted the right way, with a failback plan in place.

“No one foresaw that it would be necessary to become a part of the digital world in the way that the market is demanding today. Everyone’s asking themselves, who do I work with, and where, to make the digital transformation journey?”

-Bill Pratt, VP, Managed Services & Channel Sales

DataBank’s Purpose-Built Migration Process

For both colocation and cloud migrations, DataBank has developed a proven methodology to maximize success. Colocation migrations require the physical move of equipment and often hardware vendors require certification, and sometimes insurance, for moving equipment because doing so without them can result in a voided warranty. For these migrations, DataBank enlists the help of specialized third-party providers who can provide a full team to handle the physical aspects of the migration. The process starts with a detailed equipment inventory and then the team consults with both DataBank and our customers to develop a layout of the new proposed space with rack elevation and placement. This makes it easy to pre-build the environment, from racks and cabling to power cords.

Migrating from a physical environment to cloud, or from cloud to cloud, requires a different type of skillset. For this specific purpose, DataBank has an entire team and toolset exclusively dedicated to migration. In a sense, migration is effectively a DR event in that it requires failover from one site to another. Our migration team utilizes proven DR tools and best practices for making the move which fall into five migration steps:

  • Plan
  • Design
  • Build
  • Test
  • Go live

“The fact that we actually have our own project management and migration teams is certainly a differentiator for our customers. Data center providers who only offer colocation aren’t going to be a good fit for a hybrid environment with 500 servers that need to be moved.”

-Justin Sevier, Director of Hosting Solutions, DataBank

Preparation and Process are the Keys to Migration Success

The most important aspect of migration, whether physical or to the cloud, is preparation. If you’re not thorough it’s practically a guarantee you will have problems. A successful migration is not just about getting from one environment to another, it’s about considering every element of the change process and the impact to every aspect of your business and applications. For instance, in what order do elements need to be activated in order for applications to come back online? If you were to boot your database server before your domain controllers are online, will your application be able to authenticate? And what are your business hours? 8-5? 24/7? When are your systems least utilized? Can you afford downtime? These are the planning factors that have to be taken into account and having a dedicated migration team results in a comprehensive understanding of the environment, as well as what’s going to be involved to make the move.

If you are facing a data center migration and you’re looking for feedback or support, give DataBank a call and we’ll show you how we leverage world-class platforms, process and people to make the move successfully.