Ten Questions to Ask Yourself before a Data Center Relocation

This is not a “top ten” list ordered by level of humor. This isn’t necessarily in order of importance. The following are just ten queries with thoughts on business-as-usual status, relocation impact, and how Data Center Migration (DCM) specialists might help you.

This is not a “top ten” list ordered by level of humor.This isn’t necessarily in order of importanceThe following are just ten queries with thoughts on business-as-usual status, relocation impact, and how IDMWorks Data Center Migration (DCM) specialists might help you.

1. How long can you freeze progress?
Business goes onward. The primary purpose of the enterprise is not IT. IT exists to support the primary goals of the enterprise and to do it economically. Even when you are preparing for relocation business units expect most changes when they want them. Periods with even partial freezes for relocation must be minimal to maintain your enterprise’s real primary purpose.

2. How much spare resource capacity do you have?
If you have the resources to do a Data Center Migration internally, some may think you are overstaffed. Most enterprises have been trimming expenses wherever they could, including IT staffing. This generally means that your technical people are pressed to keep up with current operations. You may be stretching them just by asking them to learn and practice new techniques. Now, on top of that, you are looking at migrating to a new Data Center. You probably won’t avoid changes to your technology. In fact, some technology changes may be in the reasons to execute the migration.

3. How big is a relocation project?
You have a Data Center full of units that will have an average age of four years when they are replaced. This means that on average your staff replaces 2% of the equipment every month. A relocation calls for de-installing and re-installing 100% of the equipment in about two months. Relocation is 24 times the normal workload.

4. Do you have expertise on your staff?
Few companies move a Data Center more than once a decade. Even if you have people on staff who moved a Data Center ten years ago, they won’t recognize how constant process improvement has changed the applicable processes.

Ask yourself this:

  • Do you know the lead times for the technology changes in a migration?
  • Have you considered what topology will carry you into the future best?
  • Is your purchasing department well versed in the nuances of the trades you will engage?

5. How well do your silos work together?
Your teams are probably in silos. We can assume that your enterprise executes deployments beautifully with application, server, network, storage, and backup teams all getting their jobs done in a few days. Remember that Relocation is 24 timesthe normal workload? In a migration, you will need power, networking, storage, equipment, and applications to execute seamlessly in minutes.

6. How do you want to be remembered?
Quality will be remembered. If you spend a vast sum to obtain the proper facility; but have problems bringing up the applications in it, that memory will live anecdotally through many budget cycles. The saying is that Data Center Migrations are career changing – which way would you like your change to be?

7. Do you know the risks of a DCM?
You know your day-today risks however, there are additional risks to consider in a migration. Statistically, only 4% of system failures are the result of hardware failing when running in place. That risk quadruples (16%) when you de-install and re-install equipment. Plus it is typical to add almost the same amount from human error when operators are only trying to restart systems as they were. How many of your systems were configured by parties who are no longer present? Plus there may be network configuration complications. One of the most irritating statistics is about 2% of “outages” being caused by tests that report false defects. Unfortunately you have to remember to test the tests.

8. How much can you rely on your IT structure?
There are a collection of things that you expect to be working in your favor. Like your network, phones, email, identity validation, help desk, fire alarm sensors and other infrastructure. When you are moving these very systems can fail on you in the most interesting ways. I believe there is a corollary to Murphy’s Law that “If a reliable system fails, it will fail at the most inopportune time.”

And yet sometimes reliability is actually the enemy. Those landscape sprinklers that always come on at 2AM? Not so good when you are moving a load of switches and servers past them at 2AM. For that matter, from a staff standpoint, don’t schedule a move for Mothers’ Day weekend, you won’t have time to handle all the complaints.

9. How large is the “team” to whom you will communicate?
There are actually several aspects to the communication problem. For example, I once heard of an unhappy board member whose first notice of a major move came from an outside acquaintance at a sporting event.

As situations change you need to document status at the time decisions are made so that hindsight does not become obscured by changes after the fact.

Upper management expects IT management to clearly convey the risks they are accepting and the financial reasons for accepting that level of risk.
There are teams inside of IT and Accounting, business units, IT vendors, communication vendors, management teams, relocation vendors, maintenance teams (contract updates, tax rate changes, standby), general employee pool, customer pool, non-IT vendors, and maybe a dozen more categories of communication targets. For these various targets, there will be a variety of different message mediums and timings.

10. Does your budget fit your needs?
Also known as the Goldilocks question: Are you buying just right, or too much (wasting resources), or too little (limiting future processing)?
The relocation should fund infrastructure for a period specified in the goals of the project. The physical facility usually needs to be serviceable through the end of lease/life.

At the same time you consider that the exit date for the new Data Center is years away; you should also weigh throughput that will become available using newer technologies. In an ever- greener world, there may be financial reasons to plan for future changes.

With increasing availability of collocation and cloud resources, there is a serious risk of overbuilding. Enterprise management needs to be assured that funds committed to IT are being used wisely.

It is beneficial to have DCMWORKS experts involved before you commit to particular topologies and technologies and before you are requesting bid proposals.

At DCMWORKS we have a phased approach to the relocation:

  1. We will ensure your goals are met. We consider your stated and implied goals for the relocation project and help you set-up a core team to coordinate the project.
  2. We will ensure proper discovery. We gather and combine data on your systems, information communication, and applications in a discovery effort. This includes interviews on expected technology changes.
  3. We will ensure you plan correctly (and obtain final budget approvals). This includes analyzing prototypes to illustrate alternatives, checking designs for facilities and cable infrastructure, actually planning (with your staff’s input) equipment locations, move timing and patching.
  4. We will test, retest and ensure proper execution. With your staff and our support teams, we test readiness before moves, execute moves, and confirm results of each move.
  5. We will ensure you close your old facilities (if applicable) and the project. There are many Project Management Phases that apply to DCM – Charter, Discover, Design, Deploy and Validate, and then Close. Our DCM PMs handle status reports, core team meetings, to-do lists and both create and maintain project plans at various levels of detail.