Data Center Migration & How To Pack For A Move

There are good reasons to deliberately pack a move. Our process is automated; but even if you must plan by hand you should do it. We’ll look at how to do it.

What is meant by packing for a move? It means loading the truck in a specific order so items install smoothly when unloading. Collecting items from various points in loading is better than scattered installing.

Why bother? Among the reasons are:

  • Devices with HIPPA, PCI, or other PII data should be under audit control.
  • It helps you install higher priority systems first.
  • It helps you separate items for multiple teams.
  • It reduces risk of cables and rails getting mixed up.
  • It helps you stick to your installation plan.

Before you plan your packing, design your migration. Design should include:

  • Improving services to your customers. The goal is to move items once cleanly.
  • Preplanning elevations of new data center to RUs in the racks and slots in enclosures.
  • Preplanning ports for data connections.
  • Preordering patch cables to length, labeling them in advance and neatly dressing them.
  • Preselecting power from switched and/or metered power strips for load balancing.

Now, how do you pack equipment to take advantage of that? You gather items into logical groups, separating them based on issues of weight, location, and work-flow.

We use a mix of C-Bins, dollies, and pallets in moves.

C-Bins are 48″ X 24″ X 28″(h) so they are stable on dollies, fit most elevators, and can be sealed for security. They are generally used for servers and blades with any required cables, rails, etc. We literally predetermine the sequence to load so bin 1 item 1 is the first item out and the first item installed. This is printed on a “bin sheet” that notes where the item will be found in the old data center what needs to be packed with it and where it will go in the new data center. Every item should be checked off as packed and as unpacked.

Some bins may not be packed to capacity. We prefer installing from the bottom up in racks. That requires one precise placement with most others simply fitting on top. But sometimes it is good to break bins between racks. It allows you to skip over a trailing team and start another rack. Sometimes you must separate a bin for weight to avoid damaging floor coverings or injuries.

Low bin numbers are priority equipment that needs to come up first; they are packed last and installed first. Within a priority level, try to install from the furthest end of the new data center back toward the access. This keeps you from having to move loaded bins around teams that are installing items.

Try to skip racks as you’re installing. That works if you’re moving in several ‘waves’ . We jokingly refer to a ‘butt factor’ from having too many people working in one cabinet. It is good to do even cabinets in one ‘wave’ and odd cabinets in another.

Move large items like enterprise switches and server enclosures on a dolly without an actual bin. Whole cabinets move on pallets or on their own rollers. We still give them bin numbers.

When you sequence bins (installation order), remember to factor in start-up times so that the most important systems come up together. An example: If a storage vendor requires that their equipment be stopped and started by their personnel and palletized for transit, then get it installed earlier so that they will finish their check-out about the same time the servers come up.

Knowing where each item is in the bins and that they are in perfect order gives you peace of mind.