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Data Centre Migration Best Practices

data centre migration

Migrating your data centre to a location, either physically or logically, is a lengthy process. The migration must happen as smoothly as possible so as not to disrupt service or cause problems for users/customers alike.

A successful data centre migration is dependent on effective planning and understanding of the business. Migrating several hundreds of servers in a singular big-bang style approach is both high risk and costly.

This article explores data centre migration best practices and breaks down the laborious task of moving data centres securely and efficiently with no impact on business.

1. Plan, Plan and Plan

Data centre migration is no small feat. Data centres host a myriad of complex, business critical systems that can afford very little to no downtime. Ensuring that you understand what is contained in the data centre and the impact that loss of the data centre for even a short period of time would have on the business is imperative.

It is strongly recommended that senior buy in is sought from the outset – stakeholders should understand the level of complexity required to move the data centre and it should be established what the risk appetite is, i.e. what is the amount of time you are looking to move the data centre in and what is the tolerance for any servers being offline etc.

This exercise will enable your business to identify which servers/applications/infrastructure components are business critical and which of those are less so. By understanding these the business is able to identify those assets that require 100% availability over those that do not. Grouping together assets in this manner may save time in the long run.
2. Understand interdependencies

Once you have identified which applications are critical to your business, you will hopefully be on the road towards understanding and prioritising your migration. The next step is to understand the interdependencies between these applications and the impact that migration may have. In other words, if I unplug and migrate A does that mean that B is no longer functional, having mass impact on the business.

The best way of achieving this is to take each application and understand the feeds in and out of this and the requirements for that application to run successfully. So, if there is a reliance for application A to have a SQL database, and that application is business critical, then it is imperative that the planning takes this into consideration. In this scenario, both assets should be migrated together to ensure minimal impact on the operations of that application.

If there are interoperating components in separate data centres, the business should ensure that this has little impact on the operation of the application.

Discovery tools are available that help map these interdependencies. If the organisation has developed over time, it is highly likely that the business will consist of a multitude of complex, highly variant applications running on a variety of different platforms.
3. Ensure performance is not impacted

Before moving to a new data centre (and once migrated) it is highly recommended to perform diagnostics to measure the impact that a new physical location may have.

For example, applications running within a LAN environment may now be operating remotely over a WAN that introduces network latency to the application and end user. If the business is proving these applications or services to customers then this is imperative in order to keep the customer content with the change and the business operating efficiently.
Conclusion

There a multitude of considerations that need to be made when considering a data centre migration. Data centre migration best practices dictate that planning is highly imperative for an activity such as this. Risk assessments should guide how applications are migrated, in which order and how potential downtimes can be minimized.

Executive buy in should be sought from the beginning and sufficient resources and funding provided to manage the migration. The performance of the new data centre should be rigorously tested to prevent a loss of service to both the business and customers. If your business does not have the resources to handle this level of migration it is always worth consulting with data centre migration experts.

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