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Data Center Relocation / Migration Checklist

Data Center Knowledge recently identified exponential data growth as a critical challenge for the IT industry. More organizations are being presented with the idea of migration or data center relocation. Some of the key reasons a company will plan for a data center relocation include potential cost savings, the need for more physical space, and security/compliance issues. Regardless of the reasons, data center relocation is a high-risk operation and an overwhelming task to tackle.

Data center moves and migrations have become an inevitable fact of life. Modern data centers typically move three to five times, with 53% of companies expecting to do so within the next few years, according to senior project manager Shawn Simon of National Computer Warehouse Services, LLC. (NCWS).

The most common data center moves, according to Simon, involve two types of workers:

  1. In-House Staff. In-house staff may move servers daily, but they are often not prepared for the difficult and fast nature of a massive server deployment during a data center migration. They need to prepare for it in concert with professional movers, and remain involved in the planning process.

  2. Professional Data Center Movers. The professional mover takes care of the physical move, including servers that have been packed and prepared as freight, and all of the big items such as cabinets and furniture. You need to make sure you connect with an experienced partner who has extensive knowledge of the intricacies encountered during a move. Doing so can make the difference between a smooth transition and a potential nightmare.

Involving in-house staff, including management, budgeting, and facilities maintenance, can help to avoid surprises from outside your IT staff and facilitate company-wide buy-in. Early in the process, establish and practice coordinating efforts between the in-house staff and professional movers.

While all data center migration projects require some custom decisions based on the needs of your company, there are standard best practices that will make relocation easier. Here is a quick migration checklist of important aspects that should be considered before the move:

Data Center Relocation / Migration Checklist

1) Project Planning

  • For large moves, choose an experienced, certified moving company with data center experience.

  • Establish and practice coordination between the data center movers and in-house staff.

  • Develop a budget and a Data Center Relocation Blueprint, including:

  1. Planning time and effort

  2. New facility acquisition, evaluation, and renovation costs

  3. Additional staff

  4. Overtime

  5. Relocation company cost

  6. Risk identification

  7. Contingency plan

  8. Possible server replacement or diversification

  9. Cooling requirements

  10. Infrastructure acquisitions and modifications

  11. Wiring/cabling

  • Schedule all deployment and re-installation events

  • Verify inventory of all hardware and virtual system elements, noting:

  1. Equipment condition

  2. Size

  3. Weight

  4. Serial numbers

  • Review and update the full system diagram

2) Pre-Deployment Documentation, Warranty, and Insurance Coverage

  • Review equipment manufacturer warranties

  1. Current coverage

  2. Possible limitations affecting installation or removal of servers

  • Verify and review internal insurance policies

  • Verify and understand mover’s insurance coverage terms and conditions

3) Pre-Server Deployment

  • Prepare the target server area

  • Network connectivity

  1. Ensure Internet connectivity

  2. Layout/server room diagram

  3. Network cabling

  4. Power management

  5. Rack placement

  6. VPNs

  7. DNS

  • Prepare in-house deployment participants

  • Safety procedure training

  • Training session/rehearsal of the server deployment protocol, including:

  1. Labeling and packing equipment

  2. Cables

  3. Rails

  • Pair experienced partners with first-timers

  • Remind staff of availability and importance of the data center lift for server:

  1. Installation/removals

  2. Transportation

  3. Positioning

  • Arm leaders with program timelines and server room diagrams

  • Advise staff and clients of upcoming system downtime

  • Schedule project manager to work onsite from start through sign-off

4) Preparing In-House Hardware and Software

  • Review and update diagrams and lists for each rack

  1. Verify in-cabinet physical availability

  2. Verify safe stored backup copy

  • Verify 100% backup of virtual assets

  • Identify and schedule upgrades to perform during migration

  • Inventory all hardware and virtual system elements

  • Identify and remove unnecessary abandoned cables

  • Charge and inspect server lift

  • Verify truck availability

  • Verify availability of impact, moisture, and other hazard-resistant packing materials

5) Execution of Server Deployment

  • Mirror power requirements when changing cabinets

  • Shut down servers, storage, and networking devices according to established protocol

  • Inspect, clean, repair, and re-inventory all items prior to reloading racks

  • Project manager sign-off on hardware list and scheduled tests once all items are deployed and inventoried

Conclusion Fortunately, while the actual move is fast and furious, it is also short-lived. Most of the effort lies in effective planning. Help yourself and your coworkers to avoid as much stress as possible by investing time and effort in collaborative planning. Keep in mind that skillful coordination and cross-device collaboration will minimize potential difficulties that could arise. Bringing in a specialized consultant or migration coordinator for the project can help your team avoid common pitfalls.The payoff will be well worth it.

Of course, you will keep safety at the forefront during the entire process. A safe move is a smooth move, which, in turn, reduces the risk of downtime, injury, or damaged equipment. And start early – it’s worth taking the time to do it right.

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