Five things to prepare before your data centre move

5 things to prepare for your data centre move

Moving to a new data centre isn’t a decision to be taken lightly: it involves masses of equipment and a significant change-management exercise that invariably throws up surprises. Gartner has noted that 70 percent of data centre migrations experience significant time delays or unplanned downtime [1] – usually because companies haven’t planned the migration correctly.

You can minimise the chance of problems by paying careful attention to a few key areas in the lead up to your migration:

  1. Review your environment

    A migration isn’t only about moving servers from point A to point B. Take the time to audit all of your existing data-centre equipment including servers, switches, routers, bandwidth capacity, and more. Evaluate costs of continued ownership and maintenance against replacement costs for newer equipment that may offer cost or efficiency benefits through retirement and consolidation. Identify mission-critical elements with dependencies that may impact other parts of the data centre environment if problems strike. Review your equipment and functional redundancy strategies to ensure business continuity through the move and beyond.

  2. Have a clear migration plan

    Once you’ve reviewed what you have, make sure you know what a successful migration will look like – and how you’re going to get there. Headline objectives may include reducing costs, eliminating redundancies, consolidating data, increasing efficiency, improving data security, or facilitating scalable infrastructure to support future growth. Work with business leaders and technical experts to outline how those and other goals will be met, and draw up clear plans for staff in every affected business domain as well as technical areas, supporting third-party companies, and other stakeholders. Ensure any operational or technical risk has been identified and quantified, and that you’ve implemented mechanisms to keep executives apprised of any issues as the migration progresses.

  3. Build your teams

    Operational technical teams know how to keep systems running, but they may well have inherited your current data centre – so don’t assume they can automatically dissemble the whole facility apart and rebuild it. Data centres have typically evolved over time and the extent of interdependencies is likely to reach far past the boundaries of any individual’s knowledge. Draw up a roster of necessary technical and logistical skills for the move, then evaluate your capabilities against that roster. Fill in any gaps by looking to contractors, third-party outsourcers, and migration specialists at your current and future data centre providers.

  4. Ensure visibility and response

    Whether you’re putting part of your environment into the cloud or all of it, ensuring visibility of your entire data centre environment has never been more important. Review your infrastructure-management strategy beforehand and source tools that will ensure a consistent management view of all elements within your new data centre – and devices outside of it. This process includes the development of an incident-response capability that dovetails with the business to ensure you’ll be able to detect and respond to any security, operational, governance, or other issues as quickly as possible.

  5. Test and test again

    Testing your new environment will be crucial to declaring the migration a success. Before you’ve unplugged a single piece of equipment, draw up detailed plans – including appropriate software – to test it once it’s been moved. Areas to evaluate include physical integrity, software configurations, environmental support, technical sufficiency, and more. If you’re migrating in stages, ensure your testing regime can meaningfully test the new environment throughout the migration as well as at the end. This ensures that technical teams can address any issues as they arise – and avoid them recurring throughout the rest of the migration. It’s also important to document the entire process to facilitate ongoing testing and future upgrades.

 [1] Source: “Data Center Migrations – Five Steps to Success,” Gartner.com, #G00236380, 03/26/2014 https://www.gartner.com/doc/2692717/data-center-migrations--steps

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Added 1 August 2017

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