Data Center Migration: 7 Best Practices

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A data center migration is a highly challenging project because it requires moving a facility’s entire data storage, computing and networking equipment from one facility to another. However, this admittedly daunting task becomes more manageable when you understand and follow best practices for data center migration.

Here are seven things to consider as you migrate your data center.

1) Clarify the Purpose of the Data Center Migration

It’s essential to iron out the precise factors that have motivated your data center migration. Knowing those things will help get everyone on board with the transition and ensure they feel excited about the future.

Having a clear idea of the migration’s purpose is also helpful if you need to convince decision-makers to increase the associated budget. They may challenge you to provide clear-cut reasons why the migration is necessary and why it must happen soon. Giving them a well-thought-out response should increase their overall confidence.

Perhaps you want to move ahead with a data center migration to tackle redundancies and improve processes while getting rid of unnecessary files. It can help accomplish those things while reducing costs and enhancing security.

Contrast details about the current situation with how things could change for the better when meeting with your team about the reasons for the data center migration. Many individuals are naturally resistant to doing things differently because that takes them out of their comfort zones. However, they’re often more open to change when they understand the overall benefits.

2) Choose an Executive to Lead the Migration

A migration can quickly get behind schedule or go over budget without a capable person leading it. This recommendation does not mean that a single individual is responsible for making the data center migration happen. However, it involves selecting a sole person to oversee the project from start to finish and delegating tasks as required.

One study of companies that migrated their data to the cloud found that 37% assigned the responsibility to the CIO or CTO, while 28% selected an IT leader. A data center migration may be more involved than a shift to the cloud, but it’s still a similar transformation.

A related recommendation is to have the person leading the migration create a task force to assist them in carrying out initiatives and sticking to the planned time frames. After all, most organizations will have more things to juggle than their data center migration.

The task force members can help with time and resource management. The organization should keep running smoothly and continue to meet other needs while the migration occurs.

Also see: Developing a Cloud Modernization Strategy

3) Develop a Thorough Migration Plan

All successful data center migrations start with careful planning. Indeed, many companies do this transition in stages rather than all at once. Focusing on the simpler aspects of the migration first makes you more likely to have a successful experience, with fewer complications. One smart approach when planning your data center migration is to examine how to minimize risks at every opportunity.

Your migration plan should also account for the time needed to carry out infrastructure testing before proceeding with the move. Conducting in-depth testing is one of the most effective ways to steer clear of future problems.

Getting information about the number of application dependencies will also help shape your data center migration plans. Generally, it’s best to migrate the applications with the fewest dependencies first and wait to address those that use multiple databases.

The planning phase will be especially valuable if it includes conversations with people from multiple departments. Otherwise, there’s the chance that a major aspect will get overlooked because not enough people are providing the necessary input.

4) Consider Whether You Need Additional Personnel

Your data center migration plans should include discussions about whether it’s necessary to hire people to help make the transition occur or ensure that the new facility runs smoothly. Studies of the European and Asia-Pacific markets showed that skill shortages have hindered executives’ plans. And given the tight US labor market, this is very likely true domestically as well.

This employment issue does not necessarily mean you should delay a data center migration. However, it may require lengthening a timeline so you either have more time to find and hire people or figure out how to cope with a smaller-than-desired workforce.

Hiring someone with extensive experience in handling data center migrations could be a good investment if this is your company’s first major migration. That person will have the competency needed to steer the project and resolve any questions that may arise along the way.

Also see: 9 Cloud Cost Optimization Strategies

5) Select the New Data Center Location Carefully

Your data center migration will almost certainly run into problems if the people in charge of selecting the new facility’s location rush that part of the process. Land availability and a reliable power supply are some of the necessities when choosing a location.

However, it’s also often advantageous for people to consider some places that aren’t necessarily among the most popular for existing data centers. One study found that moving to Hillsboro, Oregon, could achieve an approximate 25% operating cost reduction for a data center originally located in Silicon Valley. That’s due to potential property tax exemptions and the fact that Oregon does not have sales tax.

Staying mindful of an area’s climate is also vital when making data center migration decisions. Many centers are built in places that don’t typically have extreme temperatures. Operators can keep costs down by spending less to heat or cool the facility.

Another aspect worth looking into is whether an area on the shortlist is particularly well-suited for green power sources, such as wind or solar. Data center operators are increasingly implementing environmentally sustainable options to keep their facilities running. Following their lead can help ensure your data center is sufficiently future-proof.

6) Conduct a Data Security Risk Assessment

A data center migration provides you with an excellent opportunity to see whether there are any security gaps to address before and during the transfer of information and other resources. People must implement data security measures when information is in use, at rest, and in motion.

Data is most vulnerable when it’s moving. However, using an encryption platform is one of the best ways to keep the information safe as it travels. Storing it on an encrypted hard drive is a well-established way to protect it at rest. Another practical option is to store the content in a distributed manner to make it less likely hackers could steal enough usable information to commit devastating breaches.

Protecting data in use is all about limiting how many people can access it. Suppose the overall level of access is too high within an organization. In that case, there’s a bigger opportunity for it to fall into the wrong hands or for something else to go wrong that puts the data’s security at risk.

Ensuring information security during a migration is easier when those involved develop a detailed set of procedures to follow and encourage everyone to take ownership of protecting the data. Identify the possible risks and address those before any movement occurs. Also, tackle obstacles with a problem-solving attitude and respond proactively so any potential security threats don’t get out of control.

7) Decide What to Move and When

Not every service and piece of equipment you have now is well-suited to the data center migration. For example, if much of your current equipment is old and prone to failure, now might be an excellent time to replace it or even consider renting items in the short term.

It’s also a good idea to review all your contracts with hardware and software vendors. Can those entities’ services move with you? Might you consider terminating an agreement with a provider that’s no longer as advantageous to your business as at the start?

Investigate how to minimize any service disruptions when conducting the data center migration. It may not be feasible to eliminate any temporary outages.

Still, it’s ideal to focus on keeping those periods as short as possible. It’s usually best to move things in stages and be strategic about when those transfers happen.

Treat Your Data Center Migration as a Learning Experience

It’s all but guaranteed: not everything related to your data center migration will go smoothly. Expect headaches and problems.

Still, you should continue to follow all the best practices above, even as you run into some pitfalls. From a business standpoint, the important thing is to learn from all those challenges and aim to prevent them during future migrations. Your business will gain significantly from this learning approach.

Devin Partida
Devin Partida
Devin Partida is a contributing writer for Enterprise Networking Planet who writes about business technology, cybersecurity, and innovation. Her work has been featured on Yahoo! Finance, Entrepreneur, Startups Magazine, and many other industry publications. She is also the Editor-in-Chief of ReHack.

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