How to Plan a Successful Data Center Migration

How to Plan a Successful Data Center Migration

Every business needs a data center, especially in a modern and tech-driven world. Of course, that term covers a lot of ground, as your data center will contain all the stored information associated with your business. This will include all relevant business records as well as many helpful metrics. These data centers are great, but what happens when one of them stops working or needs an update? That’s when you need to plan for a data center migration.

What Is A Data Center Migration?

A data center migration is the movement of your vital company data from one system to another. Sometimes, it might be as simple as adding some new servers to the system, but that will still require some degree of data migration. It is important to understand the difference between data relocation and data migration.

Data relocation involves moving the servers and/or hard drives to a new physical location. Whether it is moving across the hall or the country, all the relevant computers (and their components) will have to be moved and stored. Data migration, on the other hand, involves transferring data from one computer system to another. Obviously, data migration is a lot easier than a physical relocation.

In many cases, these terms are used interchangeably. This terminology isn’t really incorrect, because data relocation always involves a data migration. However, a migration can (and often does) take place without a physical move.

Start With An Audit

In most cases, data center migration is done in response to a problem. For instance, you might have expanded your user base, and your existing servers or storage space might be unable to cope with the extra traffic. That brings us to one of the most crucial areas: Finding the problem in the first place!

Many professional IT companies will do a data center audit for you, but you can do it yourself if you understand a few basic principles. For one thing, you need to make sure that the scale of your system is appropriate to the scale of your business. In other words, you want to make sure that you aren’t over-using or under-using your available resources.

Another auditing method is to conduct an email survey of all data center users. BY analyzing and cross-referencing the comments, you can get a sense of which problems are the most pressing. Either way, you have to start by checking out the system and finding the root of the problem.

Make Sure Everyone Is Informed

From the top of your company down to the bottom, everyone needs to be aware that the data center migration is taking place. By doing this, you ensure that no one is getting any last-minute surprises. Obviously, you have to start by getting the approval of senior management by showing them why the problem exists and how your migration will correct that problem.

Of course, your IT personnel are the most important people to inform. These are the people who will do the actual work, so they should be the next ones informed after management. However, even the average employee should be aware that data center migration is happening. They will probably experience some system downtime, and it’s good to prepare them for that inconvenience.

You might want to create a task planner for all employees who will be involved in the data move. This is simply a list of names, with specific tasks listed next to each of those names. Even if you are dealing with a competent IT professional, you cannot expect them to act without your instructions. Everyone needs to know what is expected of them at all times.

Create A Timeline For The Project

It is vitally important that a data center migration is carried out in the most efficient manner possible. To that end, you should set a start date and an end date for the project. Unfortunately, some IT professionals will try to drag out the job, hoping for extra hours and the extra pay that goes with them. Without some kind of timetable, it is all too easy for someone to get away with this trick.

You will need to determine the nature of your data center move before the timeline can be created. Mainly, you will need to figure out if a physical move is necessary. If relocation is needed, you will need to think about transportation and the time it takes to move all your equipment from point A to point B.

Make A Realistic Budget

To answer a question that has probably been on your mind: Yes, this kind of project will definitely cost you some money. However, you can minimize this unavoidable expense with a well-planned budget. This will set clear limits to anyone with whom you will collaborate, letting them know how far you will go to get the job done.

It is important to take many needs into account when making a budget like this. Just think about everyone who is involved in the project, and then think about what they are likely to need. Obviously, it wouldn’t hurt to consult with all of these people, especially your IT department.

Although you don’t want to go too far with this concept, it is important to pad your budget a little. No matter how well you plan this move, there could still be unexpected problems. Most of the time, those unexpected problems translate into unplanned expenses. You should, therefore, make your budget just a little more generous than it truly needs to be. That way, you have some wiggle room if something should happen to go wrong.

The Importance Of Backups

Most of the time, data center migration will go smoothly. However, computers can sometimes be unpredictable, and glitches of all sorts can occur. If some kind of malfunction occurs while the files are in transit, those files could easily be corrupted or lost.

To understand how this works, you need to understand how the internet exchanges data. All internet data is contained in small “packets” of data, each one of which contains a tiny part of the internet. As these packets are exchanged by various computers, each one can read and make use of its content without excessive download time.

Unfortunately, because each of these packets can only hold a small amount of data, important files will normally have to split up into many data packets. If even one of these packets is lost in transit, the file will be incomplete or corrupted. That’s why every data center migration should be preceded by a total backup of all important information.

If possible, you should back up your most important records on multiple media. For instance, you might store your files on external hard drives while also maintaining optical disk records. A little bit of redundancy goes a long way in making sure you don’t lose your most critical information.

Choose The Right Infrastructure

There are several different kinds of data systems that you might choose to employ. In fact, you might even choose to combine methods. Many companies have seen good results from that method, so let’s think about the three most common types of data center infrastructure.

Cloud-based systems are probably the most popular solution because they offer a large amount of convenience. Data in the cloud can be backed up on a regular basis, automating an important task, and freeing up time for other things. A cloud-based system can be accessed at any time from any device that has the relevant credentials. Cloud structures also offer a little more security against physical intrusion because the servers are generally stored off-site.

A converged infrastructure can also be very practical for businesses who want everything to be streamlined and simple. A converged system might be described as an “all in one” model. Storage, networking, and programs are all treated as a single system. All of these different aspects of the system are able to use the same resources without conversion, making for a machine that uses good teamwork.

Converged systems are basically modular systems, in which every part of the system is self-sufficient. This makes it incredibly easy to scale a converged system to fit the needs of your business. You don’t have to overhaul the entire system every time you want to make it a little bigger or smaller. That represents a major time saver. If you ever hear someone referring to a “hyper-converged” system, that is just a more extreme version of the same thing.

Of course, businesses with special security needs might choose to store all their most important data on-site. External hard drives are often the best way to accomplish this, as the data can be stored without the rest of the system. Cloud computing is usually considered to be quite secure, but nothing is more secure than keeping everything locked down in a single location.

Also, a traditional on-site system can make use of private clouds, allowing you to get the functionality and convenience of cloud computing in a much more tightly controlled environment. Although such a system will probably be more difficult (and expensive) to create and maintain, you could manage to get the best of both worlds.

Security Concerns

For any business, there is a need to protect critical data infrastructure from those who might have reason to tamper. If your company deals in high-value data (in other words, the kind of data that hackers and other cybercriminals would want), this will be one of your most important considerations.

Even if your company doesn’t deal with high-value data or items, your competitors might still find it advantageous to snoop in your records. Whether it’s a cybercriminal looking for a quick score or an unscrupulous business rival, you need to keep your data protected at all times. Don’t let a data center migration create an opportunity for all those scummy little hackers and spies out there!

You probably have some kind of internet security in place already. This might be as simple as an antivirus program or as complex as a total integrated defense net. Firewalls are a good idea, as are VPN connections and full-disk encryption.

A data center migration represents a moment in which your data is not subject to the same protections that it would normally have. Just as thieves can hijack goods while they are in transit, they can also hijack data as it migrates from one data center to another.

Keep A Good Inventory

The migration of a data center might involve physical relocation in many cases. If this is the case, it is vitally important that you keep track of all that expensive equipment. Servers, routers, and the rest of the equipment that makes up a data center are not cheap to replace, so you want to make sure that everything is closely tracked.

For particularly expensive equipment, you might want to consider the use of a GPS tracking device. These devices can be cheaply embedded into many components, from servers to keyboards. One quick search of eBay or Amazon will quickly show you how small and cheap these devices can be. Even if you don’t feel the need for GPS tracking, you need to make sure that a checklist is made, and that the checklist is accurate and complete.

Conclusion

Much like moving from one home to another, a data center migration can be very stressful. Some of your company’s operations will likely have to be put on hold for a time until all the issues can be resolved. Still, things should go very smoothly if you follow all the advice that we have given here.

As a final piece of wisdom, we would advise you to remember this: Technology is the key to modern business, but that key isn’t always the easiest to use. You must have the right knowledge and the right people to put that key in the lock and open the treasure that is a good and well-maintained data center. If you have found this article to be helpful, please fill out the contact form below.