Data Center Migration

Best practices, resources, and tips for a successful migration

Whether you’re upgrading your on-premises data center, moving to the cloud, or implementing a hybrid-cloud strategy, the threat of business disruptions during the process can keep any IT team up at night. We can help.

On this page we’ve detailed tips and resources, highlighting the pitfalls to navigate and the best practices to help you manage a successful enterprise data center migration project.

Why you may need to plan a data center migration sooner than you think

Enterprises are creating and consuming data at an ever-expanding rate. The IDC Global DataSphere forecast predicts that in the next three years, the amount of data created will be more than in the previous 30 years and that from 2020-2025, the world will create more than three times the data than it did in the five years leading up to 2020. Perhaps it’s no surprise that following a decline during 2020, Gartner predicts data center spending will rebound, growing by 5.2% during 2021.

There are many reasons for migrating your enterprise data. Whether it’s to consolidate physical data centers following a series of mergers or acquisitions, take advantage of new applications or efficiencies such as cloud capabilities, or leverage greater capacity for strategic growth, the relocation of your company’s most precious asset needs careful thought.

With so many moving parts and interdependencies, planning a data center migration can take months. To be successful and minimize business interruption, the plan needs to include:

  • Accurate, real-time information about infrastructure, applications, workloads, owners, users, an interdependencies.
  • Workflow creation and execution.
  • Risk analysis and management.

Need help planning your migration? Download the data center migration project plan

Data Center Models

While 2020 saw investments in cloud infrastructure overtake on-prem spending for the first time, likely driven by the pandemic, many enterprises continue to invest in on-prem facilities. But what’s best for your enterprise? Here are your options:

On-Prem Data Centers On-prem data centers are maintained in-house (in a company-owned or leased premises). You may be looking to consolidate data center facilities or relocate to satisfy application latency requirements. There are many reasons why companies continue to maintain a data center facility in-house, including control, and to comply with security and governance policies.
Colocation Data Centers Colocation data centers are used by enterprises who want to lease space within a cloud service provider’s (CSP) facility and leverage shared resources such as power and cooling. They can install their own hardware or rent cabinets from the provider.
Cloud Migrations The move to the cloud – using a network of remote servers to manage and store data – offers flexibility for delivering new services, greater availability, particularly required for a more distributed and mobile workforce, and ensures continuity of service:
  • When adopting a public cloud model, enterprises lease resources from a CSP and pay for what they use, so there’s no need to set up physical infrastructure, and they can scale up and down in line with demand.
  • The private cloud comes in two flavors – an enterprise can run a private cloud from its own on-prem facility or can adopt a colocation data center model and install their own hardware at the facility.
Hybrid Solution

This allows companies to move some workloads to the cloud to take advantage of scaling and cost efficiencies, while managing others on-prem to comply with governance policies.

Multi-Cloud Strategy Many enterprises choose to spread their assets across multiple CSPs for even greater availability and flexibility.

Best Practices for a Data Center Migration

Traditionally IT infrastructure managers don’t have ready access to a clear view of the assets across their enterprise, or the current or future demands of the business. Mergers, acquisitions, changes in focus and organizational structure have made that incredibly challenging, so you are going to have to rely on your tools, databases, and spreadsheets and people in the company to get that information.

For a successful data center migration, you’ll need:

Right information

The right information at the right time
Get to know your current physical and virtual asset requirements and future needs.

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An extensive checklist: Including multiple plans, requirements applications and event dependencies, workflow steps, blackout dates and other relevant time constraints such as lease expirations, task owners, and the tools you’ll use.

Workflow execution and tracking

Workflow execution and tracking: Showing how workflow changes and delays impact the step (or most likely) multiple steps down the line.

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Analytics and reporting: It’s vital to keep an eye on progress and let stakeholders know what’s going on.

Read how MSU migrated two data centers 6 months ahead of schedule.

Data Center Migration Challenges

Avoid Over or Under Investing
Use your current and future needs to right-size investments.

Make the right move
Understand the data center models and CSPs that align with your requirements, the workloads that can go to the cloud and which need to stay on-prem.

Avoid Business Interruption
By understanding dependencies, which applications need to be tested and validated and what needs to be moved simultaneously. Make sure you have mitigation and rollback plans in place.

Cover Your Assets
Keeping data secure and available is key. Back up ahead of migration and have clear visibility of all your assets, talking regularly with stakeholders to sign-off tasks.

Don’t forget to validate success
Put a plan into place to validate with key personnel that all your critical applications are migrated successfully and keep all your stakeholders updated.

Stay on time and budget
With so many steps completed manually, this can be a huge challenge. Factor in all the resources you’ll need into your project plan and be aware that with so many moving parts, a delay at any stage can have huge impacts down the line.

ReadyWorks Guide to Data Center Migration Success

For any data center migration, you’ll follow the same four steps:

 Collect, clean-up, and analyze critical program data

Step 1

Data Discovery

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Compile an inventory of your physical and virtual assets and current requirements, running reports and pulling information from tools, databases, and spreadsheets. Talk to key stakeholders and get to know your company’s governance and security policies (if you don’t know them already).

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Understand future requirements to right-size your investment: Why are you moving? Use that as a starting point and factor in future growth demands, by talking to business leaders, before working out what hardware you need to replace.

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Compile and clean up the information you have (there will be duplications) to define the data center model you should adopt.


Step 2

Planning

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Identify the locations or providers you want to move to using your current and future requirements: think about where you place your workloads, what locations you need to be in and which CSPs align most closely with your needs.

Analyze dependencies across all your components to develop a wave rollout plan using:

  • Lead-times for delivery of new equipment.
  • Blackout dates for migration – find this out by talking to business leads.
  • Which workloads and team data needs to be moved together.
  • Time constraints of stakeholders including all third parties such as CSPs.

Create sub-plans to your project rollout plan including:

  • Communications plan – to keep the project team, stakeholders and the wider organization updated.
  • Back up and mitigation plans.
  • Testing and validation plans to ensure successful migration of critical applications.
  • Hardware requirements plan – what needs to be bought, replaced and disposed of – incorporate into your e-waste or IT asset disposition (ITAD) plan.
  • A plan for moving from current, telecom, internet network and cloud service providers and more.
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Get final sign-off from your business leads and tweak plans where necessary.

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Run through lab simulations and execution scenarios with teams where you can.


Step 3

Execution

At last! You can get your move underway. At this stage you’ll need to:

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Make sure everyone knows their part in the rollout and that they are available. Check your equipment is where it needs to be and that you know when data needs to be backed up.

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Be flexible: The best laid plans, etc. Make sure you can quickly implement mitigation plans if any issues occur.

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Stay in contact with your project team and wider stakeholders to make sure every task is checked off and chase progress where required.

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Create reports to communicate the project outcome with business leaders and other stakeholders.

 Use automation to achieve faster, more consistent results

Step 4

Optimization

Once the data center migration is complete you should monitor and optimize performance across your physical and virtual environment as an ongoing program to maintain costs and end user satisfaction. There are many factors that can lead to data center outages and they can be expensive,  costing on average US$9,000 per minute. Any data breach can have far-reaching effects and changes in performance can impact critical users or business applications. To mitigate risks, focus on:

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Your physical environment and status of any uninterrupted power supply (UPS) batteries to ensure changes don’t affect hardware.

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Application usage and network traffic to identify anomalies that could signify security issues. While CSPs have stringent security in place you should be aware of any fluctuations that could signify a breach.

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Weather patterns and environmental issues in  data center locations.

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Your hardware status across its lifecycle.

Have a mitigation plan in place so that you can easily switch users to other data center locations or providers in case of issues.  Implement georedundancy and back up data in more than one location (or with multiple cloud service providers) and have a disaster plan in place to protect assets.

If you have moved to a public cloud service provider, you will have little or no control over resources. You should, however, continue to monitor activities to ensure performance is maintained in line with your service level agreement(s).

70 % of data center failure can be attributed to human error and can often be the culprit in cloud data breaches. Whether that’s mishandling equipment, missing steps in the maintenance process or not protecting equipment, servers, or firewalls correctly, if you are reliant on manual effort, you need to make sure everyone stringently follows the relevant processes. 


RBC Migrates Data Center in 30% less time.

“ReadyWorks made it possible for us to execute the migration ahead of schedule without major disruption. They also reduced the project management workload to the degree where we didn’t need any additional project management resources.”

Read the customer success story →

Use ReadyWorks to save time and effort of your data center migration

Human error, and more broadly, the effort involved in managing a data center migration project manually, can often be the reason for a project running over time and budget. Issues begin at the data discovery phase. With many team members working from multiple static spreadsheets, data discovery takes time, and when complete, your source data is likely already old. Mistakes in equipment ordering, missed steps and the time it takes to chase up task completion can all impact project success. 

ReadyWorks believes in applying intelligent automation to cut 50% of the repetitive manual tasks and reduce the time and effort associated with data center migration projects by:

  • Automating data collation and providing you with a single view of all the information about your equipment, applications, and data that you need to right-size your data center migration and ensure security at every step.
  • Analyzing your data to provide you with dependency mapping and help you determine the workloads that can be migrated to the cloud, and which should stay on-prem. 
  • Organizing systems and applications into migration waves to ensure interdependent systems are moved simultaneously.
  • Orchestrating system and team tasks and task assignments such as scheduling and communications, triggered by milestone dates and events. Technical processes such as data backup and transfer are automated, as are validation plans.
  • Providing customized dashboards that allow you to share real-time views with all your stakeholders, and continually monitor physical and virtual systems for greater agility and visibility of IT asset lifecycle management (ITALM) activities to enhance future business decisions.