2020 saw growth in investments in cloud infrastructure, likely driven by the pandemic, as it overtook on-prem spending for the first time. But while cloud data center adoption is rising, enterprises continue to invest in on-prem for many reasons, including retaining control, or for security or governance. Gartner expects spending on data center systems to grow by 5.2% this year – representing the second highest growth in IT spending for 2021.
Whatever your strategy - moving from on-prem or the cloud, to on-prem, a public or private cloud data center, or implementing a hybrid solution – read on to find out how you can sidestep the pitfalls:
1. Avoid Over or Under Investing
If you don’t have a clear picture of what you have or what you need, you’re likely to make errors in your future data center investments. To avoid doing this, you’ll need to compile an inventory of your assets, capabilities and requirements, working with stakeholders to understand:
- What assets are affected. That means querying your tools and databases and running reports to find out about your physical and virtual assets and their current requirements, such as latency needs.
- What you need to invest in. For that you are going to have to talk to business leads to understand what their future data and application requirements are and how they align with the overall business strategy.
- What your business policies are in terms of security, governance, latency, etc. Are you required to manage certain data on-prem? Do some of your company’s operations rely on ultra-low latency, so that you need to deploy applications at the edge, close to where users are accessing them. That means more conversations.
Compile and analyze the data to decide how you move and what you invest in, to ensure it’s right for your enterprise.
2. Make the Right Move
Once you’ve decided how you are going to move you need to choose a premises or cloud provider that aligns closely with your business needs. Consider the following:
- Moving to a new on-prem location or co-locating equipment at a third-party cloud data center? It sounds obvious but you need to plan for the physical space you will have so you can right-size new equipment investments and configurations.
- Leveraging public cloud resources? Make sure you evaluate cloud service providers carefully against your business needs.
- If you’re adopting a hybrid solution you need to understand what workloads stay on-prem and what moves to the cloud. That means scrutinizing current asset dependences and applying business security and governance requirements.
3. Avoid Business Interruption
Making sure the show goes on as you migrate data is a key part of keeping your end user customers and leadership team happy. To avoid any breaks in service, you should spend time:
- Analyzing data to understand which applications are the most critical.
- Communicating with business unit leaders and managers to understand:
- If there are any critical business periods or blackout days when you can’t afford to move in case of issues that will disrupt business.
- Which workloads need to be moved together to avoid disruptions for teams.
- Further analyzing dependencies to find out what data and applications have to be moved simultaneously so there are no service interruptions.
- Working out a plan to migrate data and applications in phases and make sure you can correct and rollback quickly in case of issues.
4. Cover Your Assets
Protecting your data as you move it to the new environment is vital. To avoid data losses, you’ll need to:
- Maintain visibility of all your assets at every step of the data center migration project.
- Backup data before the move.
- Have a clear communications plan and talk regularly with stakeholders to ensure tasks are completed and signed off.
5. Validate Your Move
To avoid issues later down the line, you need to ensure the data move is successful.
- Create a validation plan working with key stakeholders and users to verify that access to critical applications isn’t affected during and after the move.
- Communicate continuously with stakeholders to keep them updated on progress, including any project delays.
6. Stay on Time and Budget
Perhaps one of the biggest challenges of a data center migration is staying within time and budget. With much of the work completed manually, you’ll have to think carefully about the resources you need for every step of the project:
- The Discovery Phase: Run reports and request data from your tools and systems to collate information on your physical and virtual equipment and current application and data requirements. Then work with business leaders to incorporate future needs so you can right-size your future data center investment.
- Planning: Analyze that data and create charts to understand dependencies and critical applications. Talk with managers and leaders to understand priorities as well as information such as blackout times, before you schedule the move. Your rollout plan should include a checklist of every step you need to take to avoid risks and errors, including a comprehensive communications plan and mitigation or rollback plan in case of issues.
- Execution: During the move you’ll need to be in constant contact with other project team members and key stakeholders to validate that every task is completed successfully. If there are issues you will need to quickly react to end user queries and be prepared to implement rollbacks.
- Reporting and Monitoring: Keep stakeholders informed as your project progresses and once the project is complete continue optimizing your investment by monitoring data usage and assets on an ongoing basis.