Completing a data center migration is no easy task—but it can be a necessary one, whether because of a need for more storage, an effort to comply with new regulatory requirements, or a desire to reduce costs. Unfortunately, many organizations make the already-complicated technical task even harder by failing to comprehensively plan the migration, understand its impact on the business, or take advantage of the experience of migration experts.
To help set your organization up for success, we have put together these 8 best practices that can turn this chore into a turning point.
Define Your Scope
Before you start down the road of a data center migration, your organization first needs to establish a scope for the effort. This includes establishing the normal project components of a timeline, budget, and resources for the effort, but it also means knowing what is actually in the data center.
This requires more than just knowing the types of instances (i.e., test, production, QA); you must conduct a comprehensive inventory of the business applications that sit in the data center. During this process, identify the data owners, update cycles, downtime boundaries, network and server requirements, and any other specifics that could affect business operations. Knowing this information from the start can help you define the overall strategy for your migration.
Baseline Your Network
Before the migration occurs, make sure you have a comprehensive understanding of how your applications and network operate. This knowledge will be vital to not only knowing whether testing is successful, but also if improvements have been achieved following the migration.
Pick the Right Hosting Provider
It is essential to identify the right data center hosting provider that will serve as your partner throughout the migration and long after. Choose a provider with the necessary resources to handle your data center workloads. They should also have the ability to grow and scale with your company over time. Finally, take the time to learn about the staff that will manage your infrastructure. Ask about their escalation procedures, SLAs, and security incident and disaster recovery plans to make sure they meet your needs.
Evaluate Your Network Connectivity
Two components of an organization’s network are often overlooked during a data center migration. The first is the bandwidth and redundancy of the network connecting your on-site business applications with those in your data center. Especially in dense areas where unexpected interruptions can occur, having backup connectivity can help ensure your data continues to flow at the speeds your business needs to maintain continuity in good times and bad.
The second is the firewall, configurations, policies, and rules that govern your network infrastructure, which must be updated to reflect the new current state. Having a clear understanding of how everything is connected and controlled and where it is located will be key to long-term management of the network.
Partner with a Migration Expert
Although a data center migration can be done solely in-house, working with a migration partner is a great way to achieve cost and time savings by taking advantage of their experience. In addition to freeing up more of your staff to handle other functions, partnering with a migration expert can introduce best practices for planning, structuring, and testing the move while also helping to prevent common pitfalls and integrating lessons learned from previous efforts. A migration partner shouldn’t be afraid to be in the trenches with your staff, assisting with each phase of the project to make the effort a success.
Find the Right Timing
Most businesses have a natural rhythm over the course of a month, a season, or even a year. Take the time to work with business partners and application owners to understand the best time for a migration to occur to prevent unintended customer or employee impacts. This can also play a role in ensuring your data center migration project has the resources available from across the organization to plan, execute, and test components to keep the effort on track.
Empower Your Project Managers
At least one project manager should be assigned to oversee the entirety of the migration project, empowered by the management team to make the day-to-day decisions needed to keep the trains running on time. The project manager will also be able to assist in tracking risks, issues, and action items, as well as progress toward the project plan and budget for regular status updates.
Test, Test, Test
Just as there are many different approaches to completing a data center migration, the same goes for testing strategies. Whichever your organization chooses—waves, phases, pilots, or “big bang”—make sure time is reserved for ample testing of the network, processes, applications, and fallback procedures under the same conditions as the true migration “go-live” conditions.
Taking the time to test will help provide a better understanding of how the migration is moving forward and what roadblocks lie ahead to be resolved.
Making the Leap
A data center move is undoubtedly a complex undertaking that shouldn’t be taken lightly. However, with the right level of planning, communication, and integration of these best practices, your organization can set itself up for a seamless switchover. For a more on how your organization can have its own seamless data center migration, download our Cloud Migration Playbook.