As organizations grow, they eventually reach a point where their existing data solutions can no longer accommodate their needs. Whether it is increasing capacity to launch a new application or gain access to a broader range of connectivity options, something often triggers companies to consider data center migration into a new environment.
If your organization has reached this threshold, you will need to adjust your data center business plan to accommodate the migration.
The ageing data center infrastructure that most businesses rely on today is not efficient or sufficient. It does not have the power needed to process big data or store it. Your critical IT network infrastructure should enable your organization, not throttle your business or the ability to innovate.
Your organization needs an infrastructure that amplifies and secures the data you collect to break into new territory, gain a competitive advantage or survive in the industry. The success of your data center migration empowers your organization to improve productivity, efficiency and agility.
What’s more, by moving your increasing workloads to a modern platform, you can:
Once you decide that you require a data center migration, your next step is making it happen.
A data center migration (or relocation) refers to the process of deploying and transferring your existing data center operating environment to another (location or IT infrastructure). It’s a comprehensive process that requires systematic planning and moving of your data center to a new site, facility or IT infrastructure.
Migration requires the logical ad operational relocation of a data center before physically or virtually moving it to a new site. In the case of end users, it refers to the adoption of cloud or managed platforms in favor of standard or in-house data center facilities.
Before a successful migration, you must ensure the following:
To answer this question correctly and on time, you need to stay on top of your organization’s data center performance. If you are not already doing this, the results may surprise you because you may be significantly underusing your infrastructure resources. You may also be overspending on a system that cannot perform to your industry, compliance or security standards – or meet your business needs.
Legacy systems impede many businesses today, mostly without their knowledge. An Insight survey report showed that at least 64 percent of IT professionals polled from large corporations saw their legacy IT infrastructure and outdated technology as their most significant barrier to IT transformation. Fifty-one percent of those surveyed revealed that they abandoned or stalled their transformation efforts due to unexpected challenges.
The cost of legacy technology is more than pounds and pence. It includes downtime, unnecessary stress and slowed productivity.
Also, when it comes to security, businesses are rendered almost defenseless despite investing heavily in data security and backup systems. It is becoming harder to protect ageing tools and technology from sophisticated cyber threats.
Cyber vulnerabilities affect entire organizations. Dated systems force IT staff to spend more time and energy protecting infrastructure than helping grow the business. Also, if these systems fall prey to attacks, organizations end up with enormous costs, delayed operations, recovery problems and the loss of stakeholder trust.
So, is it Time for Your Data Center Migration? If you are worrying or experiencing any of the realities mentioned above, then the answer is yes.
You need to ensure that your organization sets itself on the path to meaningful IT change. To do this, you must understand what platforms and updates you need, and how they will impact your business.
There are several data center tech platforms, each with their benefits, so striking the right balance of cost, performance and flexibility is vital. Do you migrate fully to the cloud, stay on-premises or adopt a hybrid approach?
Pick your solution based on both your business’ present and future needs. Depending on your specific business environment, it might make more sense to opt for a cross-platform strategy that enables you to capitalize on the benefits of multiple infrastructure options.
Below is a breakdown of the possible data center migration platforms to transition to:
An experienced entity can help you determine the best IT infrastructure that matches your data and workload requirements. A qualified IT service provider can help you develop the perfect data center migration plan to minimize the potential risks of undergoing migration. A smooth transition has little to no downtime, no negative business impact, and protects your data and applications throughout the process.
Planning is perhaps the critical step in any data center migration. It encompasses several things, including the physical infrastructure, relocation checklist, selecting the right IT infrastructure, and setting up the project’s management and follow-up.
In this section, we will focus on the physical aspect of migration. The primary objectives include:
Upgrading your data center is more than just adopting the newest technology. It's also about determining your workload and business needs to streamline your operations and provide top-notch customer service.
The process of strategizing and committing to a change within the business can be complicated, more so when moving your entire workloads and processes. It takes a lot of time, training and buy-in from everybody in the organization.
You need to evaluate your applications, data storage centers and dependencies to assist you in deciding where each workload goes. A full analysis of your existing infrastructure is also essential because it provides an overview of your current systems end-to-end and gives you a clear project direction.
Below is a checklist (in no particular order) of data center migration best practices to help you plan a successful relocation:
After planning and reviewing your checklist, the next stage is migration. In this section, we will break the data center migration steps into three.
At this stage, you build the physical infrastructure required to support your applications and business processes, as identified in the planning stage. Once the building is complete, you must next review the specifications of each IT infrastructure element to ensure that there are no last-minute changes.
You then finalize the support processes. Here, every party associated with providing support for the virtual or physical infrastructure elements and their associated applications must sign-off for the project to receive support and a go-ahead.
Migration is the best time to verify that all your escalation and support processes are in place, especially considering the cost of your brand-new IT infrastructure.
Finally, the various owners sign off on all aspects of the physical infrastructure construction. It’s a type of ownership validation where owners of the specific servers, switches, routers, SANs, etc. give their thumbs up.
The next step is validation, which refers to the checks and balances needed to ensure everything you planned for happens, including the network, compliance, compute, storage and security requirements. Since you are about to move your data to the new location or infrastructure, this is your final checkpoint to ensure that all the details identified in the planning stage have made it through development.
Execute equipment cool down before you start actual migration in the next step below. Critical hardware such as servers, routers, storage appliances, switches, firewalls, etc., may all run fine presently. However, you need to ensure that when you shut them down and allow them to cool before powering them back up, they will come back online.
The cooldown check is necessary because you will catch any issues during the validation stage, which gives you the chance to solve it either during the phase or the migration process. For instance, if you find that critical hardware such as a router fails to power back up during validation, you can bring in a new one to address the issue quickly.
Finally, you reach the migration phase, where you get to move your applications and data to a new infrastructure or data center location. Here you should focus on the app migration plan, which refers to a specific set of steps to follow during the migration of each application. Dependencies identified during the discovery phase comprise the essential elements of your checklist.
You could conduct a Test Migration of all the applications, data and network configurations to see if everything is ready. It also gives you a rough idea of how long migration will take. One great way to conduct a Test Migration is to move your backup instead of the production infrastructure. You can also opt to test one or two production applications as well. You can mix and match test migration elements according to the criticality of your applications.
Finally, conduct the migration.
After the migration is complete, you need a clear post-migration transition back to daily operations, including support. Additionally, it’s best to have a proactive monitoring and response system in place to ensure everything is operating as planned.
There are three main types of data center migration tools to consider during relocation:
There are numerous data center migration risks and challenges that come with relocation.
The common mistake made during migration is failing to set realistic time expectations for the process. The Test Migration should give you a rough idea of how long the entire process will take to avoid surprises later and ensure you account for the downtime. Often the production migration process is longer than the test migration because it needs care and attention to detail.
Post-migration testing is always a challenge. However, it’s still a good idea to engage your customers and staff to know their operational experiences and map things out. Before migration, enlist network staff to measure and time performance end-to-end on specific sets of transactions on critical applications. Document the tests and then repeat them after the relocation.
You probably don’t know or have not accounted for hidden complexities, such as back-end attachments to the critical applications you plan to move. Some legacy applications in your present data center may be older than you. Therefore, it’s never too early to initiate a detailed inventory with your customers and employees and document everything on a CMDB-type database.
Expect downtime during a data center migration. Thus, start informing your support teams and end-users that some of them will put in the time to conduct a Q&A required to support the relocation. The schedule alone can take months of planning.
If you use optimizers or load balancers, you will have to go through their configuration layers to learn how to manage your migration. It may require additional investment for duplicate hardware not accounted for or for the technical expertise.
The biggest challenge when developing and building the physical or virtual data center is upgrading the different infrastructure parts without recognizing their interdependencies. There is nothing wrong with upgrading some critical components of your IT infrastructure during a migration. Some things, such as new network equipment or transitions from physical to virtual, are easy to set up during relocation.
However, such fractional upgrades usually have a trickle-down impact. Therefore, ensure that you highlight the planned updates and their interdependencies during the planning stages.
One common validation mistake made is a failure to engage the business. Validation is a part of the migration process where the IT, NetEng and IT teams are busy ironing out the kinks in their checklists. Therefore, ensuring that all relevant stakeholders are involved in the process prevents unforeseen technical changes or additional requirements later.
Lack of consistent and unfiltered communication throughout the migration project breeds inconsistencies and problems down the line. It is advisable to hire an impartial party powerful enough to whip everybody into line and ensure smooth and swift communication.
It’s a general rule to have secured backups of your data and applications at all times to ensure immediate restoration in case of losses from natural disasters, system failures or cyber-attacks.
We have walked through the process of planning and executing a successful data center migration. We have also highlighted data center migration tools, an all-inclusive checklist, and the common risks and challenges to expect during and after migration.
A data center migration can entirely transform your organization’s overall operating environment and yield significant and lasting benefits, such as an attractive ROI. It’s a strategic, high-visibility project that impacts your business operations, performance availability and service level agreements.
A specific data center migration methodology helps ensure operational stability. It appropriately balances the overbearing process with the appropriate amount of rigor required to produce an on-budget, on-time relocation. Therefore, it both protects and guides your organization.
Remember that the entire process is a team effort that continues well after migration with testing and management. It’s vital to work together and ensure everybody is on the same page when it comes to the outcomes you are looking to achieve through this effort.