Data Center Migration: Best Practices to Reduce Risk

Published on May 1, 2021 by

Andrew Sweeney

Data center migrations are complex, high-risk projects. Whether you’re upgrading an on-premise data center, moving everything to the cloud, or implementing a hybrid version of both, you need a real-time, 360 view of your environment to avoid business disruption during the migration.

Unfortunately, most companies’ data centers have become a bit of a black hole of information and equipment. Mergers, acquisitions, expansions, migrations, and employee turnover mean it’s unlikely anyone has a handle on even one data center, let alone multiple centers. Companies tend to lose track of exactly which applications are installed and running on which hardware, who is using them, and all the interdependencies.

To be successful, a data center migration or modernization plan needs to include:

  • Accurate, up-to-date information about current hardware, owners, users, applications, workloads, and interdependencies.
  • Comprehensive planning tools for every aspect of the migration.
  • Workflow execution and tracking.
  • Real-time analytics and reporting.
  • Processes for disposal of equipment that will be decommissioned.


What do you need to execute a successful data center migration?

1. The right information, at the right time

Whether you’re an internal IT infrastructure leader or an IT managed services provider, you’ll need to gather information about applications and workloads.

  • Which applications are currently in use, and which ones are critical.
  • Where applications are installed, where they are running, which instances are current, and where they should be migrated to.
  • What data applications are accessing and where the data is stored, as well as which data sets might be out-of-date and no longer in use.
  • Who is using the applications and data, and how those users are grouped together.
  • How applications, data, and users are connected.
  • To what degree applications are sensitive to network latency.

Of course, if you have physical data centers, your applications and their data are tied to a variety of equipment. To mitigate the risks of a data center migration, you’ll need current data on your equipment, matched to your application and data information. That means you’ll also need information about:

  • Servers and storage.
  • Rack locations.
  • Physical and virtual environments.
  • Networking and connectivity.
  • External circuits.
  • Hardware age, purchase order details, lease status, end-of-life status, and capabilities.

This information is typically stored in a variety of tools, including server management software, data center infrastructure management (DCIM) platforms, network monitoring and management software, IT infrastructure management packages, configuration management databases (CMDBs), hardware asset managers, auto-discovery tools, and, most likely, spreadsheets and diagramming apps. Applications, data sets and even physical assets may be owned or managed by disparate individuals or departments within the organization. Obtaining a complete picture may also require in-person surveys of some assets.

Incomplete or inaccurate data means lengthy discovery times, often resulting in project delays and cost overruns. It can also cause unexpected downtime and disruptions during execution. You’ll need to keep that data up to date, even as new applications are installed, users come and go, and third-party vendors make changes to the company’s network infrastructure or their application requirements. You’ll need to have information in a single, central source, where you can analyze it in order to understand relationships and dependencies.

2. Planning tools for every aspect of the migration

A successful plan will include:

  • Application dependency mapping.
  • Event dependency mapping.
  • Wave planning that considers application and event dependencies, users, workloads, and third-party vendor requirements and timetables.
  • Information about scheduling limitations such as black-out dates and times along with deadlines such as lease expirations.
  • Assignment of tasks within your IT group, to third-party vendors, and, if needed, to others in the company.
  • Hardware planning – identifying hardware that is at end-of-life and how it will be retired and disposed of, lease expirations, new equipment, hardware that will be physically moved, where it will go.
  • Planning for migration or disconnection of cross connects to ISPs, telecom carriers, network providers, cloud services and more.
  • Coordination with hardware, software, data, data center, and cloud storage vendors.

3. Workflow execution and tracking

There are a lot of steps to execute in a data center migration. You’ll have multiple, interdependent workflows, and will need to track execution and prompt for the next step in each workflow.

Along with rigorous planning, you need the flexibility to change your plans and initiate related workflow changes in response to changes in vendor schedules, application usage, hardware status, and other circumstances.

A single delayed installation or failed data migration, for instance, will have a domino effect down the workflow line. Workflow tracking should be precise enough to alert you to a single change and its subsequent effects. And it should be flexible enough for you to quickly modify plans and continue the migration with minimal business disruption.

4. Analytics and reporting

You’ll need to monitor your migration in real-time and share reports with stakeholders, ranging from your IT team to company executives, division managers and third-party vendors. This requires gathering information from a wide range of systems and individuals, matching it with business information (division, physical location, priority, etc.), and crafting it into a format that the stakeholder can digest. You will likely need an audit trail for security compliance, including showing data migration, location, and security, as well as e-waste disposal tracking.

Ideally, you should be able to review and report on the status of each workflow, as well as the overall migration, quickly and with up-to-date information. Accurate, easy-to-understand reports are an opportunity to nurture your relationships with company executives and managers, explain any delays, get buy-in for any changes in the plan or schedule, and show them when they can expect milestones to be achieved.


How ReadyWorks helps you handle data center migrations and modernizations:

ReadyWorks is an all-in-one IT work management solution that allows you to automate every facet of a data center migration or modernization: data collection and analysis, planning, execution, and reporting. It is a single, centralized platform for project management and engineering, as well as a centralized platform for monitoring data from a variety of IT systems.

Data Collection and Analysis

ReadyWorks lets you bring together, view, and analyze information from a variety of sources. You’ll have a single source that includes:

  • Data collected automatically from systems such as SCCM, AD, ServiceNow, and spreadsheets.
  • Hardware inventory and specifications.
  • Installed applications for each piece of hardware.
  • Usage information for each piece of hardware.
  • Asset and application dependency mapping.
  • Business ownership information for all assets.
  • Data center asset locations, whether physical or virtual.
  • Special requirements for each asset.
  • Asset ownership and lifecycle information and tracking.
  • Asset purchase order and warranty details.


Automated data analysis helps you determine which workloads can be migrated to the cloud and which need to stay on premise. It also gives you the information you need to determine what needs to be moved together and when.


Automate scheduling, tasks, communications to stakeholders, and execution – including automatically instructing other systems to run scripts based on task and system status. Automate status reporting for your migration programs with customized dashboards for everyone from IT professionals to senior management and automatically compile audit trails required for hardware and data security compliance.

And, when your data center migration is complete, you can continue to use ReadyWorks to keep track of asset inventory and lifecycles, asset utilization, disposal and e-waste programs, and other data center information. You’ll be able to continuously track and improve data center efficiency and effectiveness, more easily add or eliminate assets, and conduct future migrations more quickly.

Our clients have found ReadyWorks significantly reduces the risk inherent in data center migrations, speeds up the migration process and saves them money by automating the process. See for yourself. Schedule a demo today.