There are various reasons why a company may need a data center move. It could be that the current data center’s location is not strategic or cost-effective, and the company wants to move it to a more suitable location. Additionally, a merger or acquisition could result in the need to consolidate data centers. In some cases, a company may also need to move their data center to comply with regulatory requirements or to improve security and disaster recovery capabilities.
Whatever the reason, a data center move is one of the most complex IT jobs that you can take on. You want to execute a smooth migration, with maximum speed and minimal trouble. And, you want to minimize the risks of unexpected downtime and interruption to your company’s revenue.
We have two words for you: “Plan Well!”
The key to a successful data center move is careful and comprehensive planning. If you plan the migration well, you can anticipate problems, plan for contingencies, and avoid unexpected pitfalls. In this article, we’ll explain how to properly plan your data center move to foresee and overcome problems.
Start Your Data Center Move Early
If possible, start planning for a data center move at least six months in advance. This gives you plenty of time to get organized, do the prep work, and map out the migration. Also, it gives you time to anticipate problems and work out solutions.
First, take a comprehensive inventory of all servers and equipment that will be moved to the new data center and determine if any equipment has reached end of life (EOL). Identify any unused servers or other hardware. You can save a lot by taking those servers off your moving list
As part of your inventory, document the following:
Impacts – What will be the impacts of downtime during a physical IT move? If, for example, a server is disconnected and an eCommerce application is offline for 24 hours, what impact will that have on your business?
Interdependencies – What are the upstream and downstream interdependencies of each device in your IT ecosystem? If you shut off a server that hosts virtual desktops, for example, what will be the impact on employees (upstream) who use those desktops? Or on storage units (downstream) that receive replicated backup data from that server?
Storage Units – If a storage reconfiguration is planned as part of the migration, make sure that any new storage units you buy will be compatible with your old storage units.
Documentation – If they don’t already exist, you’ll need to develop full rack elevation and port/cable map documents for both the current and future locations.
Identify the Key Players and Objectives
Next, decide who will be involved in the data center relocation, as well as their positions and responsibilities. List and document the following:
Project Managers – The managers for each phase of the migration.
Stakeholders – The people affected by relocation, need to be consulted about move activities, application downtime priorities, and organizational impacts.
Technical Owners – Key contacts who will help you define migration tasks for physical infrastructure, databases and applications, network, systems, insurance, transportation, business communications, and vendor management.
Also, document any department- or group-specific requirements, as well as the overall business drivers, timelines, and objectives you wish to achieve.
Develop a Comprehensive Data Center Move Project Plan
Then, construct a detailed plan for the data center relocation that includes the following elements:
*Project charter identifying stakeholders, objectives, budgets, and priorities
*Complete plan with tasks and resource assignments for each person or group.
*Risk management plan to document risks and contingencies.
*Checklists and sign-off sheets for each involved party.
*Timeline and schedule of key events in the move.
*Budget components that you can use to justify budgets.
*End-to-end test plan for each group.
Brainstorm for Potential Problems
In planning the data center move, assign your project team members the specific task of identifying potential problems. Discuss those problems at each project team meeting, and carefully document recovery plans, back-out procedures, and fail-over options.
Schedule a Trial Run for the Data Center Move
A trial run allows you to rehearse complex project tasks, identify unexpected problems and potential issues. That way you can make adjustments to the project plan before the actual move.
Follow the Project Plan
Before the data center move, check to make sure that all the resources you need will be available. Ensure stakeholders are available to make decisions efficiently should any issues arise. On the morning of the move, begin with a roll call of the relocation team. Finally, follow the project plan to the letter, to prevent missed steps and out-of-sequence errors.
By validating each task as it is completed, you can verify that the project plan is being followed. Include the following validation elements:
Checklists – Use the project plan checklists to sign off on each task, resolve problems, and verify that all tasks are complete. Have the implementer and project coordinator sign off on each step. This lets you validate what has and hasn’t been done, and helps you avoid post-migration mistakes. Ensure all equipment is inventoried and tracked as it moves from the source to the destination location.
Testing – Your end-to-end system test plans allow you to make sure everything is working correctly after the migration. Execute the test plans and document the test results.
Communication – Keep all stakeholders updated in real-time about relocation progress and any issues. Write an executive summary about the migration and distribute it to all appropriate parties, along with the test plan results.
Sign-off sheets – Have the stakeholders sign off to verify that all tasks are complete and all systems are working as expected.
These steps will help you anticipate and overcome problems in your data center move. Any type of data center move is always a complicated undertaking. If your company doesn’t have the staff, resources, experience, or time to handle a data center move and all its complexities, don’t try to handle it all yourself. Call Silverback Data Center Solutions to find out how we can help you plan and execute a successful migration.
- Start your data center move early – as early as possible
- Take inventory – be thorough with this step
- Identify the key players and objectives – include more people, you can always pare down
- Develop a comprehensive data center move project plan – be consistent
- Brainstorm for potential problems – have an open mind and play devil’s advocate
- Schedule a trial run for the data center move – build this into the schedule
- Follow the project plan – take it step by step
- Validate everything – double check all tasks