10 Best Data Center Migration Practices [2023]

Data center migration best practices

For many people, data center migrations are scary. There is little room for error with all those moving parts and pieces. But remember that a data center migration is just the moving of computing assets or applications from one place to another. Take a look at our 10 best practices for your next data center migration.

Reasons for Data Center Migration

There are many reasons why companies decide to migrate their data centers. Some of the primary reasons include:

  • Running out of space or power
  • Need a different geographical area
  • Need a more economical solution

With that, you need to determine your specific reasons for the data center migration. Once you do that, you can assess your goals and then make a plan to achieve them. While you are likely to face challenges during the migration process, there are several things you can do to simplify the process. 

Are you currently searching for a solution to plan or move your data center? At C&C Technologies, our team can help you make a seamless transition for your data!

Data Center Migration Best Practices

Decide on the Scope of the Migration

For seamless data migration, you will want to define the parameters of your project. As you know, with any complex IT undertaking, data center migration can be prone to delays. It can be challenging when those goals change during the project. You should start small when migrating the data. Make sure to move only the content of one database at a time. Then, you can broaden the scope after that initial step is completed without any issues.

Backup Your Data

With any type of project, you need to back up your data. You never know when or if something will go wrong. When you need to move data from one system to another, it makes sense to back it up. Along with that, backups can prevent any potential data losses that could be detrimental to your operations. Remember that even the best plans have problems – files get corrupted, end up incomplete, or go missing. When that happens, you can restore your data to its original state. 

Determine the Available Data

For a smooth data center migration, you will want to verify the data for complexity and quality. Make sure to carefully assess all data types to confirm what needs to be migrated, where you need to store it, and which format it will have after the migration. Data migration is more than moving content from one place to another. Sadly, many businesses focus on the content rather than making vital improvements to their data centers. When you eliminate redundant, unnecessary, and outdated content from the database, you will be left with only the most virtual information for your data center.

Related: Improving Data Center Energy Usage & Efficiency

Establish a Realistic Time Frame

Any efficient data migration project needs to establish an actual timeframe for the process. Those large-scale projects can take a long time to finish, spanning several months. Remember that the migrating process should never disrupt your business’s current operations. If you want to prevent any potential problems, make sure to spread the time out over a period of time. Also, allow enough time in the schedule for extra work or unexpected delays. 

Set Data Standards

After you have determined the complexity of your data, put some standards in place. With this approach, you can identify those problem areas and stay clear of other unexpected issues that could arise in the project’s final phase. Data changes on a constant basis. Set specific standards to help with consolidation to ensure better data usage in the future. 

Align IT and Business Teams

A successful data center migration needs everyone to work together. You want both the business and IT teams to define their goals and reach out to each other. The operation department should be mindful of any technical challenges, while the IT team needs to understand those business goals. When both groups work closely, you can prevent any unexpected delays in the migration process.

Utilize the Right Tools or Work With a Reliable Provider

In some cases, the responsibility of the data center migration falls into the lap of an inexperienced individual. If you lack the skills or knowledge for the migration process, consider using various tools or working with a reliable provider. While some planning and effort can help tackle the migration, the transition will be better if you hire a professional for the job. 

Implement a Risk Management Strategy

Risk management is always something to consider when undergoing the data migration process. During the migration, it is likely that issues will develop. You will want to note them and think of ways to impede or fix them. With that, you can ensure that the entire process will succeed. 

Supervise Organizational Changes

During the data migration process, you need to carefully analyze who will have access to the new data center, such as vendors, partners, customers, and employees. By doing that, you can ensure a hassle-free transition for everyone. 

Conduct Migration Testing

Finally, testing is a vital step in the process. You need to execute these tests throughout the migration process. With that, you can detect any errors or defects at specific phases and provide the necessary fixes. After the migration, don’t forget to perform more testing to analyze your new system before regular operations resume.

Avoiding Migration Surprises

No one wants to deal with a surprise. Making a solid plan in place can help you avoid any unexpected issues with your data center migration. You need to understand your timeline and all the critical paths that must occur with the project. Otherwise, you could be facing plenty of problems once the project starts. 

It was mentioned before, but everyone needs to be on board for the project. Often, the operations management side doesn’t understand that it takes more than moving physical equipment for data center migration. There is a lot of planning with these projects. You need to know the critical applications and services that you must move to the new location. 

If you are not moving your existing equipment, you have other things to consider. A rack full of equipment keeps the old facility and data center operating during the migration. Unfortunately, you cannot shut down one side and bring up the other. In many cases, you need to have both sides operating at the same time. Customers should never see a loss in service. Plus, problems in the migrating process can occur, causing you to fail back to the original site. 

Take all of these points into consideration for your next data center migration. 

Related: Types of Electrical Grounding Systems & Techniques

What To Consider Before You Start Pulling Plugs

During this process, you need to keep track of everything. If you are moving physical equipment, don’t go around the room and pull out plugs. Think about the process and your equipment. For example, if you have a five-year-old server, you must know what is running on it. 

Make sure that no vital machines or applications are operating from it. Take time to find out who is responsible for that server and ask a few questions. After you have moved the servers, is it truly inactive? With a better understanding of all the equipment, you will know what can be turned off and what needs special attention. In some cases, a single server could be providing 30 to 40 services to customers or other departments.

These rules don’t just apply to servers. Make sure you get the background on all those power circuits, storage devices, and network equipment

You must understand how everything is interrelated – how the services and applications in the infrastructure are connected before you can start the decommissioning process. You must also know what will be required to move the physical device and transfer services. Make sure to consider everything, especially those potential impacts on customers. With that, you can avoid any unwelcome surprises. 

Avoiding Those “Uh-Oh” Moments

Want to avoid a big headache? Remember that planning and dependency mapping are critical. You are at the stage where you can start to shut down a few machines. Make sure that you don’t turn off a server that only operates once a year during tax season. In many situations, you don’t know what data you have lost until someone calls on the phone. Don’t put yourself in those situations. 

With a strategic data migration plan, you need to cover these critical factors, such as:

  • Knowing the data: All of the source data should have a complete audit before the migration. With that, you can avoid unexpected issues. 
  • Cleanup: If you have identified any issues with the source data, make sure to resolve any problems. You may need the help of additional software tools and third-party resources to help with the project. 
  • Maintenance and protection: After a time, data does undergo some degradation, making it unreliable. You should have controls in place to help maintain that data quality.
  • Governance: With tracking and reporting, you can ensure a better understanding of your data integrity. The right tools and processes will make this data highly usable and automate functions when needed. 

Any data migration plan needs to include a process for bringing the right tools and software to the project. 

Finally, let’s look at a few data center migration strategies.

Data Migration Strategies

There are several ways to build your data center migration strategy. When you know your organization’s specific needs and requirements, you can establish what is essential for the project. Many techniques fall into two categories: the trickle or big bang.

Trickle Migration

This method completes the migration process in set phrases. The new and old systems run in parallel during the process, remaining operational and avoiding downtime. With that, you can consistently migrate real-time data to the new center. This type of implementation can be complex. However, if you have a plan in place, it can reduce the amount of risk when moving data. 

Big Bang Migration

With this type of migration, the entire data transfer is completed within a small amount of time. Those live systems will experience downtime as the data processes and transitions to the new database. One advantage of this method is that everything happens in a limited time frame. However, there is more pressure to deliver results as the company will have to operate with some of the resources offline. Often, there are risks of a compromised implementation. If you are considering a big bang approach, consider examining every step of the migration process before actually moving your data. 

Related: Data Center Cabling Best Practices Guide

What’s Next?

After you have finished decommissioning your old data center, there are still a few tasks to complete. You will have to go back into the center and clean out everything. Make sure to decommission everything that you don’t need. In some cases, you have to decommission everything down to the concrete. Some data centers have raised floors. Check out if you have to remove those chillers, CRAC units, or other types of equipment.

You can hire companies to handle these jobs. However, some companies might be willing to buy your old equipment, like UPS, generators, electrical gear, and cooling systems. Don’t forget to hire someone to strip the plumbing and electrical components as well. Everything must go!

A data center migration can be a complex process, especially when handling it on the fly. Most companies will have to move their data centers at some point. With a strategic plan in place, the right providers and tools, and data backups, you can complete the migration process in no time. In the end, your data center will have the latest technology, and you can focus on other parts of your operations. 

Are you looking for a solution that can help you efficiently manage your data center? At C&C Technologies, our team has the answers to help you plan, operate, or move your data center without any hassles!

Last Updated on January 27, 2023 by Josh Mahan

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