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Are You Ready For A Data Center Migration?

Are You Ready For A Data Center Migration?


A data center migration is always a significant undertaking. The more you have to move, the more challenging a data center migration becomes. This increases both the risk of something going wrong and the consequences of it happening.

You should therefore only undertake a data migration if you are fully ready for it or have the right partner in place. Here are some points to consider when making that decision.

What is involved in a data center migration?

A data center migration is the process of moving resources from one location to another. The move may be to an entirely new data center. It may also be to a new location within the current data center.

These resources being moved will almost always include data and applications. It is quite common for them to include hardware. Sometimes they will include staff.

Even if staff members are not being relocated, a data center migration could still have an impact on your staffing. For example, if you use a managed service provider, you may need to find a new partner. If you don’t, you will almost certainly have to update your contract with your current partner.

Is a data center migration a need or a want?

Probably the majority of data center migrations are made on the basis of anticipated need. In essence, a business will realize that it’s outgrowing the facilities available at its current data center. It will therefore undertake a controlled data center migration to get the extra resources it will need.

In this situation, businesses probably have a high level of control over the timescale for their data center migration. This means they can proceed with caution. For example, they might choose a step-by-step migration rather than a one-and-done migration. Even so, it’s important to stay ahead of your deadline (actual or anticipated).

There is also the possibility that a data center migration will need to be undertaken due to environmental issues. This could be heightened concern about their potential. It could also be because they have happened and impacted the data center’s functionality.

This is why it’s advisable for all businesses to have at least a basic plan for a data center migration. This will give them a baseline to work from if you ever need to do an emergency data center migration.

The process of a data center migration

The basic process of a data center migration is: assess, plan, implement, test, go-live. Here is a quick rundown of each of these steps.

Assess

Your first step is to assess what needs to be moved from where to where and by when. Ideally, you’ll also flag up any special requirements. For example, if you’re transporting physical media with sensitive data, then you’ll need to think about security.

This is also the point where you should define your goals and objectives for the migration project. One of these goals should be to have it completed by a certain deadline. If your deadline is still unclear, just set a working deadline. You can update it later if further information renders it impractical.

Plan

Your next step is to turn your high-level assessment into a concrete plan of action. Usually, your main challenge here is to ensure that each action is carried out in the right order. Modern IT systems often have multiple layers of dependencies. You, therefore, need to ensure that actions are always scheduled after any actions on which they depend.

Your plan should typically cover the following points.

  • Assignment of responsibilities
  • Agreement on communication (form, frequency, and people involved)
  • Process for transferring data and applications
  • Process of transferring and/or replacing hardware
  • Process for transferring staff
  • Process for restoring data and applications
  • Process for reconfiguring applications, networks, and (possibly) hardware.
  • Process for testing and validating the result of the migration
  • Process for dealing with incidents
  • Process for handover into business as usual

You might also want to use your data center migration process as an opportunity to clean up your overall IT infrastructure. This can be very beneficial. You must, however, treat the clean-up and the migration as separate steps. Each will require its own allocated resources, particularly time and budget.

Implement

Your path to implementation should always start with communication. In fact, this is generally the key to success in any data center migration. You need to ensure that the right people are given the right amount and type of information at the right time.

In short, you need to ensure that everybody who could be touched by the data center migration knows about the fact. Regular business users should be aware of how the migration could affect them. IT staff and third-party vendors also need to know this. The staff actually involved in the migration need to know what’s expected of them.

As a rule of thumb, it’s better to over-communicate than under-communicate. Even so, try to avoid swamping people with information, even when it’s relevant.

Test

Never assume that your implementation has worked as it should have. Always test and validate. If you’re using a third-party vendor, never sign off on a contract until you’re sure you’re happy with the outcome.

Go-live

Have a process for handing over into business as usual.

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