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ad1 - 5 Steps To A Successful Data Center Move

Ahmed Desai

Managing Director Panther Tech

As an IT leader at some stage of your career, you will encounter a Data Center Move.  The push factor may come from:

·       The end of a lease

·       A merger and acquisition

·       An outdated environment requiring modernization & investment

·       Adoption of a next gen strategy

Whatever the reason an IT leader should prepare him\herself for a significantly increased workload, a migration budget as well as changes to the environment.

roadcase - 5 Steps To A Successful Data Center Move

Following these five steps will make the seemingly daunting task manageable and dare I say it, even a fun, learning experience for you and your team.

Step 1

Current State Assessment

This step boils down to one statement, “What do we have?”

Seems a really obvious question? Well not really, not if you think about a company having moved into an on-prem data center in 1998. In that time 20U Compaq ProLiant servers have been replaced by 2U HP ProLiants and virtualization. Add to this a change in disk technology and a turnover of staff, now suddenly the question does not seem so unreasonable.

Getting a really good mile high view is essential to creating a plan and architecting your next environment. In this step you need to discover, list and document the following:

·       All hardware – Include everything, draw a floor plan and do it rack by rack. Include tape drives, routers, switches, SANs, NAS’, racks – everything you have. You may come across equipment that is no longer used – Use this opportunity to remove this equipment as it will give you clarity as to your focus.

·       All Circuits – Account for internet circuits, point to point links as well as VPNs. You will need this information to build your map and processes as well as migration planning of connectivity to partners.

·       All software – Include OS, Databases, applications and any other relevant information.

·       All Services – List all the services you provide e.g. email, billing, finance etc

·       All Processes – This is where it gets fun – build process maps so you know exactly how data flows from one service to another – an essential step for architecting the next environment.

You now know exactly what you have, how it all links together and all of this information is in one place accessible by the project team – Give yourself a pat on the back. The first milestone achieved.

Step 2

Future State Design

Otherwise known as “serious whiteboard time”. Roll up your sleeves, get your markers out and strategize. Rest assured you have choices, but you got to make decisions and use this opportunity to design something for the next 10 years. Any forward thinking IT leader will have the following considerations in mind:

·       Provide a flexible, scalable platform for the business

·       Make future deployments fast and efficient – In today’s business world IT leaders need to have the ability to deploy an infrastructure solution that can scale globally in seconds and minutes. That way your company will be flexible, agile and nimble. You can also be first to market globally with the ability to scale.

A design at this stage will likely incorporate some or all of the following:

·       Migrate some services to a SAAS model, e.g. transfer your on-prem Exchange server to Office 365.

·       Co-locate systems with a data center provider such as Switch, Equinix.

·       Migrate systems to Amazon AWS, Azure clouds.

·       Migrate systems to a hosted private cloud.

Whichever route you choose you should now have a future state design in place.

Step 3

Migration Planning

Now is the time to get down to the nitty-gritty.

Map each system from your current state assessment to its future state. For each system make a mini plan as to how that migration will look. By way of an example:

On-prem Exchange >> Office 365 migration

Great Plains database and application >> AWS cloud – Windows server with SQL – VPC for client connect.

HPUX Servers >> X0 Colo

You should now have a project plan and have broken your migration down into bite-sized chunks. For each service, you will have the steps listed for migrating that service, the resources and a timeline which goes with that effort.

Step 4

Future State Fit Out

This stage varies depending on which migration path you have chosen.

Cloud – The easiest fit out is your virtual data center in the cloud with Amazon AWS. It is easiest as there is nothing to fit out, our friends at AWS have done it all for you, all you need to do is build out your configuration – use a good AWS cloud architect – no AC units or Ethernet cables required!

Colo – Choose your co-location provider, present the number of racks required and accurately calculate the power and bandwidth you need. Accurate calculation of power and rack space is vital as you will be subject to maximum power usage in the racks and of course there are physical Rackspace constraints, something you and your team did not necessarily have to worry too much about in your on-prem data center.

With the target locations and your plan now ready, you can begin the migration.

Step 5

Migration Delivery

Tip: -Start with some low hanging fruit.

The reality is that this is a tough road for you and your team. Some easy victories at the start will motivate your team. The business will also develop confidence in your plan & execution early on.

Execute your plan as you set it out but be flexible as not everything will happen as you thought. Keep your team motivated and focused.

You have now set sail with a rock solid plan, knowing exactly where you are going and a confident crew. Good luck!

Panther Tech offers Pre-Cabling, Discovery, Asset management solutions providing you with asset data in a professional, actionable format, no matter the size of your environment. Feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn or email; ahmed@panthertech.us

If you like this article please like, comment and share. You may also like my other article, 5 things to ensure your data is safe during a move.