Whenever your IT systems go down, you run the risk of a serious business disruption and loss of reputation. This is true regardless of the cause—whether it’s a natural disaster, a power outage, a server failure, human error, or something else.
A data center relocation is one area fraught with potential to cause system downtime. There’s a plethora of moving parts and a lot can go wrong.
Why would you ever want to relocate your data center? Well, there are a lot of good reasons. You might need to consolidate multiple data centers due to a merger or acquisition, or you might simply need to cut costs. You might be moving to a more modern facility, or you might have decided to outsource and use a service provider’s data center. Indeed, the finance industry moves locations all the time to get into the data centers that house exchange computers to capture the advantages of having their transactions processed a nanosecond quicker.
Whatever your reasons for moving a data center, you need to carefully control and coordinate your move.
Here are five areas that you absolutely, positively can’t mess up when making this critical technology move:
One of the biggest issues to be aware of when you move your data centers—whether it’s a logical or physical migration– is interdependencies. You need to correctly discover and associate all the upstream and downstream interdependencies for your move group (i.e. the subset of your IT infrastructure that you’re moving) so you can move all interdependent technologies at the same time. Failure to move the right application with the right database and the right hardware can cause unplanned downtime and catastrophic business loss and disruption.
To address this issue, be sure to validate your interdependencies with the people that work with all your systems day in and day out—namely your application teams, your database teams, your infrastructure teams, and your network teams.
2. Change control across the life of the project
Even if you’ve correctly mapped interdependencies, you’ll still run into trouble if you don’t enforce and document rigorous change control procedures throughout the project. For example, if you’ve added new hardware since you mapped out your interdependencies and haven’t tracked the change, you won’t move the entire move group, which can cause your system to go down. Don’t get yourself into a position where you have to make last-minute technical changes due to changes that weren’t maintained properly.
3. System de-install
Organizations typically make many changes to their IT systems during a move, which means that any number of things to go wrong. Maintaining data backup and restoration integrity of your move is critical to avoid unnecessary issues when the target site goes live after the move. Therefore, before de-installing any hardware or software, be sure to validate that your backups have completed. Perform and validate your backup and restoration assessments well ahead of the move event.
4. Staffing for key roles during move day events
Make sure the people you need during the move event—including your application, database, infrastructure, and network teams– have the bandwidth to support the move over an extended period of time in case something unexpected occurs. You should also procure hardware and software vendor bandwidth and support ahead of the move event to mitigate potential risks.
5. Incident command and escalation
Treat the move event as a potential disaster scenario. Be sure to proactively track and report on incidents through a centralized command center as the move unfolds. In addition, it’s tempting for people on the scene to try to fix problems they encounter themselves without pulling in additional resources when needed. Not getting extra help in time can cause delays in addressing issues. Therefore, it’s critical to define, review, and test escalation procedures in advance to limit undue downtime if an issue arises.
Coordinating any technology move requires a host of standardized procedures, years of experience, and a myriad team members with varying skillsets. You also need a keen understanding of what mistakes to avoid in order to successfully make it to the other side.