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Best practices for a successful data center migration

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.  

02 / 8 / 2022
4 minute read
Cloud Migration Strategy Workshop

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

The beginning stages

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 positively impact 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 scopeA crucial starting point is to fully assess the current environment and identify what needs to be moved. 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 and 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: Identifying each asset and application to prioritize levels of business and mission-critical importance is key. Determine how assets are being used and their relationship to the business as a whole.
  4. Know your networkIt 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 caused by migrationKnow how much downtime, if any, can be reasonably incurred throughout the migration. This will drive the method to process the actual migration alongside the scope.
  6. Establish how the move will be accomplishedEstablishing 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 migration process?
  7. 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 that take copies of data and move it first, while others use software capable of over-the-wire data transfers. Assessing the best method is driven by the criticality of data and uptime requirements. Remember that a combination of approaches should be considered.
  8. Test migration planTesting 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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 integration, user acceptance, and performance testing test plan is also necessary.
  3. 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.

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