When businesses flourish, they often find themselves at a critical juncture. Their existing data center infrastructure isn’t enough to accommodate rapid growth, so a data center migration solution is on the horizon.
But if companies want to leverage the benefits of scalability, flexibility, and cost efficiency that a proper data migration offers, they need careful planning and execution. Let’s explore essential considerations and best practices to streamline the data center migration process, focusing on achieving a successful transition while mitigating risks and maximizing efficiency.
Crafting a data center migration plan
A well-crafted data center migration plan serves as the foundation for a successful migration. What are the components?
- Infrastructure audits: Assess the current state of your systems to identify potential risks and challenges
- Stakeholder buy-in: Securing buy-in and ensuring that stakeholders understand the objectives and impact of the migration helps streamline the process and provide a collaborative, cooperative approach.
- Interdisciplinary teams: Teams comprised of IT, business operations, and site management experts will help manage the migration process
- Risk mitigation strategy: Identify potential complications and roadblocks early.
Real-time visibility into infrastructure performance and compliance can help you as you make decisions throughout the migration process. Migration isn’t all or nothing. In fact, it could be a years-long undertaking thanks to continuously evolving tools and complexity.
Transitioning your data
Consider your infrastructure assessment, scalability requirements, cost-efficiency, and business goals. Transitioning
- Physical migration involves physically relocating hardware and may be necessary for proprietary or specialized equipment.
- Cloud migration transfers data and applications to a virtual environment, offering reduced downtime and lower costs.
- Hybrid migration combines physical and virtual approaches, providing flexibility for different infrastructure components.
Assess your unique needs to determine the most suitable strategy that aligns with your business objectives. The criticality of data assets and the risk of potential downtime should mean a careful strategy for making the migration move as seamlessly as possible. Here are three common approaches.
A swing migration uses a temporary server as a staging area before making the final migration to the target server. The original server remains operational—cutting down on disruptions and downtime—until the data is safely moved to the final location. Swing migrations require careful coordination because they introduce a new layer of complexity but are useful when data must remain continuously available.
Live migration involves the real-time transfer of resources—typically virtual machines—from one server to another without disconnecting the client or application. Organizations typically choose this for tasks like upgrading infrastructure components. The upside is that it offers continuous service availability and minimal disruption to users. However, it also requires strategic planning and robust network connectivity, not to mention sufficient resources to execute. Organizations should consider network bandwidth, latency, and workload dependencies when choosing this option.
Sometimes the most appropriate path is not all or nothing. Instead, breaking down the process into smaller, more manageable parts allows organizations to migrate data and applications in stages. This reduces the risk of widespread system disruption and provides opportunities to course correct and adapt as the migration progresses. This option allows greater flexibility and control for organizations grappling with a great deal of complexity. It extends the duration of the migration process more than the other methods, but organizations can monitor and address any issues before proceeding to the next phase.
Choosing a colocation partner (or not)
A colocation partner could play a crucial role in a data center migration, especially when organizations want to leverage the services and expertise of a trusted partner. Here are some important considerations.
Pros of using a colocation partner
Infrastructure and expertise: Colocation partners provide purpose-built data center facilities with a robust infrastructure. Organizations can benefit from highly secure and reliable environments for their data and applications, as well as experienced staff for guidance through the migration process.
Scalability and flexibility: A colocation partner offers flexibility and scale for organizations expecting to expand or contract infrastructure based on evolving needs. With access to on-demand resources, organizations can more easily accommodate growing workloads, seasonal peaks, and other changes without significant upfront investment.
Cons of using a colocation partner
Cost considerations: A colocation partner sometimes involves financial commitments organizations may not be fully prepared for, such as recurring fees for rack space or usage-based fees. Working with a colocation partner requires a thorough cost analysis, including comparison with other solutions.
Dependency on an external provider: Although colocation partners provide assistance and expertise for companies that need this kind of support, it can mean turning some control over to an external party. Organizations should carefully assess the providers reputation and track records to ensure data and applications are in the right hands. Adequate service level agreements can help mitigate potential risks.
Keeping humans in the mix
Humans are a critical piece of the migration process. Clear, timely information about the process, potential downtime, and changes in access help manage user expectations. Involving users in the process and addressing needs proactively provides the chance to not only foster trust but also rely on departmental expertise throughout the process. Users can identify where potential problems are much earlier, giving organizations a better chance of adjusting correctly.
Building a data migration strategy
Data center migration requires meticulous planning, but businesses can achieve a successful transition while minimizing disruption. Taking the necessary time and effort to properly assess current infrastructure needs and future business goals will ensure a streamlined, successful migration.
Elizabeth Wallace is a Nashville-based freelance writer with a soft spot for data science and AI and a background in linguistics. She spent 13 years teaching language in higher ed and now helps startups and other organizations explain – clearly – what it is they do.