Knowing how to approach a data center migration saves your organization from rushed, ad-hoc deployments and transfers — and all the headaches those bring. Plus, a well-planned data center move justifies the migration expenditure through clear returns on investment in energy savings, reduced HVAC expenses, bolstered data security solutions and decreased compliance risks, just to name a few.
The common challenge with this type of project is how to enable a successful data center migration while effectively managing risk. Silverback’s data center migration best practices are grouped into five phases:
Discovery, Analysis, Planning, Execution and Post-Migration.
Using this structure can help identify assets and minimize risk using a multi-phased migration approach. This method also enables easy deployment and configuration, and optimizes the end result.
The discovery phase of data center migration prioritizes three concerns:
- What exactly are we migrating?
- Devices and applications across the entire enterprise
- Server cabinets
- Specific, Individual Assets
- What is the budget and timeline to migrate them?
- Technical costs
- Business costs
- Prorated across one to five years
- What will our success outcomes be post-migration?
- Stakeholder bottom line impact
- Department and team measure of success
- Productivity impact
Once these three priorities have been outlined, you can move to these best practices:
- Consult with Stakeholders
- Each stakeholder can identify the organizational functions that may be impacted.
- Stakeholders can advise and participate in cross-functional discussions with other internal business units.
- Appoint a dedicated resource with influence to work cross-functionally.
- Agree on candidates for a Project Manager and a project team to manage the migration project.
- Depending on scope of project, you may want to hire a data center solutions consultant with knowledge and experience in data center migrations.
- Send Data Center Migration Questionnaire
Each migration is unique, however there are several key questions to include in a survey to facilitate the discovery process:
- What are the existing network dependencies, processes, and interrelated applications?
- Which Compliance Certificates and Attestations are needed?
- What type of support will be needed, during, and after, deployment?
- Why level of uptime will be required in the SLA’s?
- What type and level of power is necessary?
- What energy technology do you want to pursue?
- What physical and virtual security measure are needed?
- Complete Assest Inventory
- Document hardware, applications and every component that will be relocated or consolidated.
- Create U-by-U and cabinet-by-cabinet catalog of IT infrastructure.
- Include model, serial number, configurations, replacement value, and vendor contacts.
- Create Visio diagram of how each system is de-installed (before) and re-installed (after).
- Identify how each component interacts with your larger network.
- Document these connections in a network dependency summary.
Draft Migration Strategies
- Define target operating model (Buy/Build/Rent):
- Colocation Operation
- Selecting migration type:
Identify Migration Method
Migration is a broad term representing the process of moving IT systems, workloads, applications, in their current infrastructure and moving them to one or more new target environments. Migration methods include:
- Virtual to Virtual
- Physical to Virtual
- Physical to Cloud
- Public Cloud to Private Cloud
Evaluate Infrastructure Needs
Part of analysis thorough documentation of the existing infrastructure:
- Power specifications
- Cooling requirements
- Connectivity diagrams
- Rack layout
Include applications your data center supports:
- Application owners
- Planned upgrades or changes
- Allowable downtime
- Server, network, storage and operating system requirements
A data center migration plan is when the team maps out end-state dispositions and move-group planning. This information fits into the master plan for execution.
Outline Project Plans
- Master Plan
- Data and Application Migration
- Hardware Migration
- Compartmentalize Data Management
- Draft Initial Scope
Prepare Statement of Work
- Document Deliverables
- Define the Timeline and Period of Performance
- Outline the Evaluation Criteria
- Specify Reporting Requirements
- Add Specific Terms and Conditions
Finalize Master Plan
- Plan more than one method of transferring existing data to the new data center
- back up drives
- network-based data transfer
- portable media
- If Cloud migration is included, consider containerization technology
- Consider hiring external resources for part of all of the migration
- Allocate Resources
- Migration begins with communication to the organization and pre-migration preparation
- Roll call with the move team and backup resources at 24 hours and 4 hours before the move to ensure full resource availability
- Provide real-time communication to all stakeholders throughout the move
- Give multiple points of reference for the schedule. Physical posters, online dashboard, email reminders, etc.
Execute Master Plan
- The project plan must be followed precisely to prevent missed steps and out-of -sequence errors
- Document the work as each task is completed
- Use the project plan checklists for sign-off on each task
Facilitate Knowledge Transfer
- Non-functional requirements may need to be modified
- Architectural decisions may need to be revisited as new data is provided
- Technical design may need to be modified as new data is made available
- More resources required during test phases than expected due to complexity of environment
- Conduct practice runs at regular intervals
- Schedule a full trial run prior to the migration
- Use virtualization tools for remote systems hosting
- Perform functional testing, performance testing, and other types of tests based on the type of workload
- If migrating refactored applications, plan for retest
- Assess all aspects of the data center relocation, such as hardware, network, data, and applications
- Server room layouts with availability heatmaps
- Rack elevation documentation
- Cable management for both network and power connections
- Power and energy management
- Automated data center documentation with auto-discovery and REST APIs
Execute Decommission Plan
- Validate and document decommissioning preconditions
- Pack and pallet all hardware
- Work with recycling vendor or downstream site for recycle or repurpose
- Work with an ITAD or recycling company for the physical destruction of any servers no longer viable
- Finalize your part of the project by handing over documentation to new ownership
- Address device contract and life cycle management
- Set up follow up call to ensure no outstanding issues
Use these best practices as a starting point for developing a customized action plan for your company. Whether it’s two racks or two hundred racks, across the street or across the country, no two migrations are alike. To ensure success, consider working with Silverback Data Center Solutions. We’re an IT services company with a focus on migration, installation, physical support, decommissioning and audit of Enterprise and Commercial Data Center and technical environments.
BONUS: Data Center Migration Questionnaire
Hardware Move Questions
- Is there a loading dock? Is there sufficient height to move the equipment in or out?
- Is a lift gate truck required to access the shipping/receiving dock?
- What will be used to move the equipment to the loading dock?
- Will the equipment fit in the elevator?
- Is there a restriction on truck distance from the building?
- Will there be a forklift and operator available?
- Is there an area for packaging and un-packaging in both data centers?
- Which equipment should be moved first/last? Identify development, staging and production equipment.
- Will equipment need to be un-racked and racked at the new location?
- Will you or a vendor perform cabling work?