When planning and implementing a Data Centre migration it is imperative that businesses understand the impact of having their technology services shut down, and then physically or virtually moved to a new location. By understanding the concerns and the risks associated with a prolonged outage it is then possible to plan with all the stakeholders the migration itself. Below, are just some of the best practices that PrimeTel and our partners would implement to our clients when project managing a migration.

1) Basic Planning

The plan is key to any technology project, whether it’s a move, change or installation. The following questions are critical to ask:

  • Why is this happening?
  • When does it have to be completed by
  • Who is going to be affected?
  • Who is going to manage the work on top of business as usual (BAU) activities?
  • Where are we moving to?

There are many more questions that will need answers from internal teams, 3rd parties and users. It is common these days for companies to use an independent Technical Project Manager to steer the project and get project specific information to manage the work packages to get the job done.

2) Implementation Planning

Once the basic plan has been agreed with all parties concerned it is now time to begin implementing the plan itself. During this stage, workshops and meetings will need to be held to have detailed discussions with each line of business, support & application teams, hardware / software vendors and indeed users. These workshops will help to understand the following:

  • What happens when applications go down?
  • What order do we power down?
  • What order do we then power up?
  • Are upgrades needed in flight?
  • What resources are needed by each team to make the move a success?

Ultimately, the concerns of the business should be mitigated during implementation.

3) Data Collection / Auditing

Before any large migration or project, it is good practice to make sure you have a full and accurate picture of all the technology that is in your space and highlighted as being in or out of scope for the actual migration. Accurate data allows the project owner to filter the technology into key groups that are relevant to each stakeholder or owner to highlight to the concerned parties where their machines sit within the Data Centre and how they need to prepare for the physical migration.

Businesses should be looking for a full end to end service for asset management, using bespoke tools and engineers to help clients understand the following:

  • What equipment they have
  • What ‘U’ position it’s installed in
  • A cable configuration summary to help plan the rack and cable layout for the new destination

4) Network & Power Infrastructure

In order to successfully migrate to a new Data Centre, it is imperative that the new space is cabled, configured, and has power and resilience to accept the existing or new equipment. The network must also be ready from a telecoms perspective. Areas to focus on include:

  • Ensuring there are upstream and downstream links in and out of the building
  • Ensuring that the network provider correctly terminates the upstream and downstream network lines
  • Other considerations may be the Data Centre build outs, mechanical and electrical systems (M&E), universal power supplies (UPS’s), raised floors, structured cabling, through to pre-cabling and installation of Copper/ Fibre bulkheads all labelled and tidied to industry standards.

5) Backups, health checks & Re-boot

When migrating production or critical systems it is advisable that the core environment and systems are backed up to tape or disk in case systems need to have Operating systems or volumes restored during a migration.

In addition to backups, system administrators should go through their platforms and run a full health check to make sure there are no known hardware/software faults or potential patching updates that could cause unnecessary downtime. Best practice is to also reboot the in-scope devices ahead of the migration to make sure they restart and come back up without any issues.

6) Virtual Migrations & Transition platforms

Businesses now have the option to migrate systems to the cloud as well as the traditional method of moving the physical to a new space. Infrastructure as a Service (IAAS) is driven from the cloud, and for a relatively small capital investment, technology can easily be moved from physicals to virtual. This can be seen as taking away the headache and expense of running huge amounts of hardware.

Using a cloud based transition platform allows businesses to swing their production environment to the cloud for the duration of a migration. This approach reduces downtime to zero, with live production applications running in the cloud, the physicals can be shut down and moved with confidence and in a controlled manner.

Once the systems are in their new space and powered up, production can then be swung back to the physical machines. The customer or business can then decide to keep the virtual machines as an ongoing disaster recovery (DR) solution, or give notice and spin them down. Both options can be extremely cost effective, and operationally effective.

7) Physical Migration

Once the plan has been agreed, every line of business and all stakeholders should be ready for a pilot move to test capability of the actual main migration. When deciding to migrate from one datacentre to another, businesses should look to choose a specialise data centre migration company that has the capability to deliver a full suite of services. Some of the key indicators to a company’s capacity to deliver are listed here below:

  • Numerous examples of proven experience of similar projects completed
  • References from reputable companies
  • In-house staff to complete the project as opposed to contractors and outsourced relationships
  • A well-kept fleet of vehicles
  • Insurance to the value of the equipment

When you are considering resourcing some aspects of the project with in-house staff, it is important to consider that your IT and Projects team are normally already fully stretched. Any additional duties can be detrimental to their 9-5, or to the migration project, coupled with the fact that most companies do not have data centre experts on their books. By partnering with the right data centre migration company, the vast majority of a project can be handed over, allowing customers to focus on the areas of the project that demand the local knowledge of their staff. Further increasing the likelihood of success.

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