Best Practices for a Successful Data Center Migration

February 8, 2022

A data center migration, or relocation, is the process of moving select assets from one data center environment to another. It can also include moving assets into or out of the cloud.  

At some point during the life of an IT environment, the enterprises will have the need to consider a data center migration for one reason or another—and there are numerous events which precipitate the need. Ultimately, going through the actual migration process can consist of answering the question of, “How do I move my data to a new environment safely and mitigate risk in the process?”

In the beginning stages of carrying out a migration, identifying a current application profile and defining the ideal place for the IT environment to live are key starting points. Businesses must determine where and what their customers want to access and how they can be best serviced from an IT perspective.

Today’s IT organization is always under pressure to make a positive impact to business and benefit the bottom line. Those managing the IT infrastructure are typically expected to:

  • Increase efficiency
  • Improve cost effectiveness
  • Achieve high availability
  • Stay competitive

A data center migration can be an overwhelming project, but IT teams can ensure a smooth migration, minimizing downtime and avoiding hurdles, by implementing these best practices:

1. Identifying migration scope

Fully assessing the current environment and identifying what needs to be moved is a crucial starting point. There should be a complete inventory of the IT environment, and lists should be created to track your migration plan from both a services and application perspective, as well as physical equipment.

2. Assess platform stability

Be aware of equipment age—is it in danger of failure in transport? Ensure that healthy equipment is on standby in case of emergency.

3. Define criticality of data

It is key to identify each asset and application to prioritize levels of business and mission critical importance. Determine how assets are being used and their relationship to the business as a whole.

4. Know your network

It is imperative to establish your network at the new location and thoroughly test communication for latency and connectivity to public clouds. Do not simply rely on copying configurations for network infrastructure or replicating the old ones. This is an opportunity for improvement.

5. Determine downtime to be caused by migration

Know how much downtime, if any, can be reasonably incurred throughout the migration. This will drive the method to process the actual migration, alongside scope.

6. Establish how the move will be accomplished

Establishing an actual migration methodology is probably the most critical step; there are a lot of moving parts. Is it a “forklift” process, where equipment will be picked up and moved? Or is it a swing migration, during which uptime is required throughout the entire migration process?

Assess the tools needed for data migration. If a cloud migration strategy will be used, determine how large volumes of data will be transported. Some customers opt for network storage appliances which take copies of data and move it first, while others use software that is capable of over-the-wire data transfers. Assessing the best method is driven by criticality of data and uptime requirements. Remember that a combination of approaches should be considered.

7. Test migration plan

Testing the data center migration plan is a critical best practice. It is never a good idea to migrate a platform for the first time on the day of the actual migration. Complete a series of tests on taking applications through the process to validate if each step laid out will work properly. Testing will provide a better understanding of how to go through the migration process step by step.

Comparing internal migration vs. working with a partner

Regardless of the reasons for the need to migrate, being prepared is every business’ greatest ally. Carefully determine whether the adequate internal resources necessary to execute a successful migration are available. If self-migration is preferred, remember that third parties can still be leveraged to assist with the physical move, freeing engineers to assist with data migration.

Working with a third-party migration partner can also be a viable option, and removes much of the pressure from the process, so long as a provider seasoned in migration is selected. Choose a migration partner that will take the time upfront to go over planning and migration strategies for:

  • Infrastructure
  • Network connectivity
  • Applications
  • Data and security
  • Compliance requirements

There are three areas that can pose difficulty when switching cloud providers:

Moving workloads — It’s important to understand that different workloads merit different deployment options. For example, Flexential offers a “white glove” premium service for customers wanting to move mission-critical workloads to the cloud.

Migrating applications — A clear understanding of the business criticality and dependencies of each application you are migrating is also important. A reputable provider will have the depth and breadth of capabilities to classify all applications and add them to a product catalog for a risk and supportability assessment. A detailed test plan for integration, user acceptance, and performance testing is also necessary.

Migrating data — Support, monitoring and management of the data during and after migration is also key.

If you’re in the process of choosing a migration partner, select one that can help you navigate these trouble areas and has proven success and a solid reputation. The right partner can make all the difference in avoiding a migration catastrophe.

Download this white paper for a more in-depth look at how to Migrate Your Data Center Worry-Free.

Ryan Mallory, Chief Operating Officer, Colocation Services

Ryan Mallory

Chief Operating Officer

As COO for Flexential, Ryan drives operational excellence and performance optimization for the integrated colocation and interconnection portfolio - including colocation services, cloud managed services, backbone, real estate, data center and network operations, desi

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