The Big Move: How to Prepare for Your Data Center Relocation
You’ve outgrown your current data center and decided it’s time to take on the daunting and complex task of moving. Whether you’re leading your organization’s relocation process or getting some help from the pros, one thing is for sure: you need a plan.
Proper planning will minimize downtime, mitigate security risks, and make the most of your resources. Here’s a list of things to consider to ensure a smooth move.
Decide who’s running the show.
Moving your data center is obviously more than an unplug-and-plug-in operation. You need a capable and experienced project manager and IT team to handle everything from logistics to security to database dependencies and more. Putting someone without the necessary skills in charge can lead to costly missteps and mistakes.
It’s also a good idea to make sure all stakeholders are informed about the reasons for and benefits of the move. Since everyone from senior management on down will likely be affected at some point during the process, getting people on the same page will make cooperation a little easier across the board.
If you don’t have the personnel available internally to tackle data center relocation, hire a good IT consultant to help you make the transition. Even if you have plenty of employees with the right experience and talent, you may not want their time tied up with relocation at the expense of equally important tasks. The best consultants often offer various ways to use their services, from hourly packages to full project management.
Determine what needs to move.
Any move requires you to figure out what you have and what you need to take with you. Relocation is no different. A thorough data center discovery will help you inventory what’s in your current infrastructure and decide which equipment is crucial for business processes. You can then determine which hardware needs to be upgraded or removed.
You should also review your contracts with hardware providers. Does your new location have size restrictions? Maybe your business needs no longer require certain machines. Whatever the case, you don’t want to carry inefficient contract terms into your new environment.
Ask critical questions.
Asking the right questions is key to developing your detailed plan for data center relocation. Every business has unique needs, but in our experience, a few universals apply. Take a look at the following list of questions to help you get started:
- How much downtime can you tolerate?
You need to be prepared for downtime, know how long it will last, and identify factors that could keep you from getting back up and running.
- What applications and data are critical? How is that backed up?
You don’t want to take any chances with mission-critical data. Understanding your data redundancy plan will help avoid a lot of headaches during and after the move.
- How will you secure your data during relocation?
A data center migration leaves many of your most valuable assets uniquely exposed. Think through basic security measures, like working with established vendors and creating sending and receiving protocols to ensure continuity and minimize risk.
- Does your equipment fit in the new space?
Take accurate measurements and have an access plan ready to go to avoid setup delays.
Create a relocation timeline.
Relocating your data center is a complex process you don’t want to rush. A realistic and detailed timeline will help you ensure service continuity and minimize a whole host of potential problems.
Key tasks—like securing transportation, documenting infrastructure dependencies, and making arrangements to bring services online—take time. Spreading them over a specified time period will give you a way to check your progress and stay on target. It goes without saying that you should schedule your go-date to avoid major projects or peak activity times where possible.
An experienced project manager will be able to create and stick to a workable timeline.
Establish a budget.
Nobody likes to be blindsided by unexpected costs or overlooked expenses. After all, you don’t want the benefits of upgrading your data center to be overshadowed by a blown budget.
Develop a workable budget proposal upfront to account for predictable expenses, and build in some wiggle room for the inevitable surprises. Whether it’s the added construction costs for getting the right cable or the extra truck required to transport your servers, those dollars can add up quickly. It’s best to be as thorough and detailed as possible in your planning. What’s more, you often end up paying a premium for necessary services when you wait till the last minute to secure them.
Documenting everything is one of the most important elements of a successful data center relocation. It could be tempting to let your trusted IT staff rely on their steel-trap memories to dismantle and reconstruct your network at a new facility, especially if your operation is fairly small. But that’s a bad idea.
Instead, document the transition process from start to finish, from planning to execution. Document every connection type and tag every last cable. Make sure no components are missing that could impact deployment time.
Test and re-test.
Once you have your network set up and everything is installed, it’s time to start testing to make sure everything is up and running as expected. First, make sure all the equipment is there, accounted for, and in working order. Then you can begin testing your systems and applications to ensure your network is humming along as it should.