Best Practices for Data Center Relocation and Migration

Article by Nilesh Rane



DC consolidation and migration journey is a rocky one with challenges such as operational disruption, etc. Mandar Kulkarni, Senior Vice President, Netmagic Solutions shares some best practices to follow for a successful DC relocation and migration project.

DC migration and consolidation is an uncomfortable truth for most of these Data Center Managers or CIOs.

An optimally functioning Data Center is business critical. But chances are that your organizations data center is not adequate in some way. Either it is growing out-of-capacity, compute requirements, operationally exorbitant, outdated or simply doesn’t match up to the growth of the organization.

According to a recently published Data Center survey report, over 30% of organizations across the globe plan to migrate or expand their data centers within the next 3 years. Most DCs in India are over 5-7 years old and are not designed for power and cooling needs of today, are running out of space or performance, and their total cost of ownership is almost surpassing the growth in business revenues.

Unplanned DC relocation and migration exercise, done without help of experts run into risky waters resulting in cost issues to downtimes and business loss or complete blackout. Here are some best practices to ensure that DC migration project is successful.

Best Practices for DC Migration

Solution to mitigate challenges of DC relocation and migration is pretty simple. It is important to create a design and migration plan keeping in mind all the common pitfalls and crating contingencies for them. Some of the best practices for successful DC migration are as follows:

Start at the very beginning

Start the migration process as you would build a data center. Look at the migration exercise to ensure the new DC will have planned for at least 2 lifecycles of infrastructure.

Identify and detail the starting point

It is important to do a comprehensive review of the current DC. Identify and document your organizations technology and business requirements, priorities and processes. Then do a detailed review of the costs involved in various methods of DC migration and consolidation.

Design the migration strategy

It is important to establish business downtime, determine hardware, application and other technology requirements, and prioritize business processes. Identify at least 2 migration methodologies and create plan for both. Bring in all vendors and utility providers into the migration strategies and take them along.

Plan the layout – space planning

It is important to plan the new DC layout before you plan the migration plan. Think about white spaces, creating enough to allow for future growth – it is important to plan the space judiciously, and take help of DC architects to successfully design this part.

Plan the DC migration

Putting relocation design into action plan – detailed floor plan, responsibility chart and checklists, migration priorities, map interdependencies, etc. Take into the plan inputs from telecom and power providers, technology vendors, and specialists.

Inventory everything

Start with a detailed inventory of everything – from applications to business needs to infrastructure including each cable and device to network including every link and port. It all needs to go into a database similar to CMDB.

Create a baseline

It is critical to know the current DC performance and TCO ratings. Basically, it is important to know your DC well before migration and clear understanding of all aspects of it. Create a baseline for your DC so that it is easy to measure and tweak performance and efficiencies post migration.

Identify and create a risk management plan

Organizations should simply assume that things would go wrong and create adequate contingency plan. Detailing and drafting a fully documented risk mitigation and management plan is essential. Then assess, classify, and prioritize them for the purposes of mitigation.

Take users and business owners along

It is important to inform all users of the migration plan, from end users to support teams and business owners. The key is to plan to the last T and go through the plan to the minutest detail. Make sure to bring all the critical people to the planning events – facilities staff, project management teams, etc.

Identifying the right time for migration

It is important to select the right time for migration – such as choosing non-month-end and year-end, not coinciding with public events such as elections, festivals, etc.

Logistics arrangements

Arrangement of logistics arrangement needs some looking into – who is going to pack and number, name all equipment, who is going to move the equipment to the destination, is there a backup vehicle in case of break down, is there a need for armed guards for the transportation of equipment, etc.

Upgrading systems during the migration

Old servers, switches, and storage devices that are out of warranty or considered a risk when subjected to strains and stress of migration should be identified and considered while planning to replace with new. It is an opportunity for you to consider reducing the overall footprint through consolidation in quest to improve reliability, performance, and efficiency of your DC. It is a popular practice to use data center move to consolidate the DC through virtualization.

Do pre and post migration testing

It is important to create a baseline on infrastructure, network and applications before executing the migration plan. It is important to exactly know how things work – creating the baseline. Document and repeat the tests – a full-fledged success plan.

Rely on experience

DC relocation and migration is not a regular occurrence for any single IT professional to have substantial experience. It is highly recommended to entrust the DC relocation and migration exercise in the hands of an experienced organization who have proven capabilities.

Consider Experts

If it is only a data center move from one location to the other you should consider a reputable third party to support the move – professional IT mover who will use specialized packing materials, etc. It is recommended to use a professional DC provider with expertise in DC migration and relocation – these establishments will have proven data center relocation methodology and best practices that they can leverage for better results and success.

Contingency planning

Finally, even superior planning cannot offset unexpected failures. Contingency planning is critical even after the migration plan has taken into consideration all the common pitfalls. Planning for a failure is better than running pillar to post when it occurs.

Standby Equipment

If during transportation equipment is damaged or does not function at the destination, it amounts to delays or disruptions in setting up the new DC. It is important for the DC migration expert helping you to have standby equipment in cases such as these.

Insurance

It is important for insuring all equipment in case of any major disasters occur during the whole migration process. If you are using a professional DataCenter provider, it is important to add insurance to the checklist of requirements.

Identify and Plan for External Dependencies

It is critical to identify all external dependencies such as network service providers, etc. and their availability at the destination.

In Conclusion

In today’s dynamically changing marketplace and unpredictable economic climate, it is critical that data centers facilitate current business operations as well as provide for the future growth of the business. Following the best practices will ensure success of the DC relocation and migration – a good way to prevent disaster.