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A Straightforward Guide To Data Center Migration Strategies

A Straightforward Guide To Data Center Migration Strategies


Migrations always bring challenges. These challenges typically increase with the scale of the migration. This means that data center migrations tend to be highly challenging. Fortunately, their challenges can be addressed by using a strategic approach. With that in mind, here is a quick guide to what you need to know about data center migration strategies.

Understanding data center migration

The term “data center migration” refers to the process of transferring data, applications, and infrastructure components from a data center to another environment. Most data center migrations are prompted by one of three main reasons.

Limitations of existing resources: Businesses may develop at a faster rate than their current data center resources can support. It can be less disruptive and more economical to move to a new data center than to upgrade an outdated one.

Cost optimization: Businesses are increasingly choosing to decommission in-house data centers and move to colocation facilities. This relieves them of a significant financial commitment and reduces their management burden.

Business changes: Organizational changes can lead to infrastructure changes. These in turn can lead to data center migrations. For example, mergers and acquisitions can require infrastructure to be consolidated. This can require a move to a larger data center.

Understanding the reasoning behind the data center migration can be useful as it can influence the choice of data center migration strategies.

Data center migration strategies

The range of data center migration strategies open to you will depend on the type of migration you are undertaking. More specifically, it will depend on whether you are migrating to another data center or to a different environment (or both).

Migrating to another data center

If you are migrating from one data center to another, then, usually, the only practical option is a “lift-and-shift” migration. This is exactly what it sounds like. Equipment is physically lifted from one location, shifted to another, and set up in the same way as it was before.

Migrating to another environment

A data center migration provides an opportunity for businesses to assess their operations. This means identifying what, exactly, they are doing and evaluating both why and how they are doing it.

The outcome of this exercise may be that the business’ objectives would be better served by moving from a data center to a different environment such as a cloud. Alternatively, it can mean using a data center in a different way. For example, instead of using a data center for offline processing, a business may choose to use it to host a private cloud.

In these situations, businesses may need to look at alternative data center migration strategies. Here is an overview of the three main options.

Rehosting

Rehosting is essentially lift and shift but applied to a new hosting environment. Unlike true lift and shift, rehosting often involves making some changes to the underlying infrastructure configuration and software architecture. These are, however, kept to an absolute minimum.

The key benefit of rehosting is that it essentially gives businesses what they have already. In particular, it maintains compatibility with legacy systems and applications. This is, however, also its key drawback. In other words, rehosting is highly unlikely to be the best way to take advantage of the options provided by new infrastructure.

Replatforming

Replatforming, also known as “lift, tinker, and shift,” involves optimizing applications and services as much as possible without making any significant modifications.

For example, in a replatforming approach, businesses may update operating systems, databases, or middleware components to leverage the capabilities of the new environment. They will not, however, go beyond configuration changes (or at least not far beyond them).

Using replatforming allows businesses to improve the performance of their applications and services with minimal disruption, cost, and risk. At the same time, it is unlikely that replatforming alone will allow businesses to gain the maximum benefit from their new environment.

Refactoring

Refactoring, sometimes referred to as “rearchitecting,” involves redesigning and rewriting applications to leverage the capabilities of their new environment. For example, in a move to the cloud, refactoring would aim to utilize cloud-only functions such as cloud-native architectures, microservices, and/or containerization technologies.

The refactoring approach delivers the most long-term benefit but also requires the most upfront investment.

The practicalities of data center migration

When planning a data center migration, there are two key points to keep in mind. Focusing on these can help not just with your choice of data center migration strategies but with your migration planning and execution as a whole.

Firstly, you should only migrate what you really need or want to migrate. In some cases, it may be better simply to retire the (former) asset.

Secondly, migrations can, generally, be done in stages. It can, hence, be very practical to start with a basic lift-and-shift or rehosting migration and then update it over time.

 

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