Data Centre Migration Guide

Whether you’re a small business on a winning streak, or a non-profit organisation expanding into unfamiliar territory – chances are your IT equipment is expanding, too.

Your once-manageable servers have been steadily taking over your premises, occupying useful space and racking up ever-bigger energy bills.

It’s time to change, and moving into a data centre – or colocation – seems the right way to go.  

Getting colocation right – a checklist for success

Colocation is a smart decision, but it’s also a critical one. You may – quite rightly – have concerns around downtime, security and application performance, as well as the nuts and bolts of what the process actually entails.

From our experience of helping over 500 customers move into our three UK colocation data centres, we’ve put together a checklist to ensure that your migration goes as smoothly (and safely) as possible.

You can download the full checklist – or read some key excerpts below.

Four considerations before migration

Kickstarting your data centre migration blindfolded is a big no-no. Take the time to consider how relocating your critical apps, services, and data will affect your business during the migration process, and what you can do to mitigate any risks or temporary disadvantages.

The most successful migrations have the following four factors covered from day one:

1. Server downtime

How you approach this depends on the nature of your business. If it simply can’t tolerate any server downtime, you need to safeguard operations with a robust disaster recovery and backup initiative. You could also setup a temporary private / hybrid cloud to keep critical processes running during the migration.

Likewise, if your system-critical apps are moving, consider running a trial migration to ensure ongoing software compatibility (and reducing chances of further downtime). A good data centre provider will help you with this – and with all of the other issues covered in this blog.

2. Network configuration

Consider what needs to be done to ensure that older apps will retain their functionality in cases of incompatibility. Decisions will need to be made on a case by case basis, as some apps may or may not encounter configuration issues in the move from your local area network. It’s better to be safe than sorry, so be sure to investigate the effect migration may have on your mission-critical apps. 

3. Network latency

Colocation means accessing your data centre through a dedicated, high-speed connection. Latency (time lag on the network) shouldn’t be an issue after the migration, but it’s important to consider instances where it may occur during migration.

As servers are often migrated in batches, apps sharing a local area connection must now work harder to communicate. To mitigate potential latency issues, identify which apps work together and when, and plan your migration timeline around keeping them apart as briefly as possible.

4. Application knowledge

A successful data centre migration means knowing everything about your apps inside out. But what about those ancient apps which have been chugging along happily for years? The documentation is nowhere to be found, and nobody remembers who installed or built them to begin with. By using network tracing tools in the months running up to your migration, you can relearn everything you need to know about the intricacies of your legacy apps.

All set? Let’s set the move in motion.

Four ways to be ready for migration

With your preparations in place, follow these next four steps to ensure a seamless migration:

1. Decide what really needs to move

Still operating hardware and software through contracts long overdue for termination? Still using old equipment which no longer serves a critical purpose? Does every server need to go over, or could you virtualise some to share space, and rationalise down the number of physical boxes?

Go through everything, and consider its purpose and role in your business going forward. You may even find some equipment and contracts are more vital than expected, so it pays to be thorough.

This is also an ideal time to revisit your migration timeline, and consider whether you need to setup a temporary private / hybrid cloud to avoid downtime during migration.

2. Take a thorough inventory

It pays to have an up-to-date record of your entire data environment – review your existing logs, and make note of any changes to the inventory. Next, identify existing workloads, software, and scheduled backups so you know exactly what will and won’t operate during migration – and for the ultimate peace of mind, run that all-important disaster recovery test.

You’ll also want to inform your service contractors of your plans, and point them towards your new data centre for any licensing and contractual amends. And don’t forget to note your equipment’s warranty information and serial numbers to avoid any nasty shocks following physical relocation.

3. Assemble your team

Your data centre migration will affect everyone who uses your applications. Ensure that everyone knows their role and how they can help make the migration as painless as possible. This may involve grouping people into teams of physical movers and digital monitors, or you could brief everyone on what’s needed to allow for a more democratic, collective effort.

Either way, don’t forget to enforce the following pointers among your people:

- Clear and sensible labelling of all migratable equipment

- Safe disposal and recycling of any redundant equipment

- Proactive security monitoring of the entire environment

4. Crosscheck and test

With the physical move complete, your final step will be testing your equipment over the new connection to ensure that everything on your inventory is present and correct. Systems, apps, services – nothing should go unchecked. We also recommend addressing your team and asking for their feedback on the migration to discern whether the move has benefitted them. A thorough project audit can also help evaluate the overall success of the migration.

Benefits of migrating your server room to a data centre

Migrating your server room can reap massive benefits for your business at scale.

  • Reduced costs

Large colocation data centres are much more efficient at delivering power to servers and cooling them thanks to their economies of scale. Because they buy power at wholesale rates, they can pass these savings on too. They also eliminate all the costs of maintaining internal server room equipment such as UPSs, generators and air con units, as this is included in the price. Finally, factory and office space, especially in London, is at a premium – by moving into a data centre you can free up that space for more productive activities or desk space.

  • Greater operational efficiency

With your equipment safely managed and maintained 24/7/365, your business is free to get back to what it does best. And should you continue to grow, scaling your data centre is easier than ever, eliminating the need for the temporary and costly solutions of old. As for those redundant processes and apps you uncovered during planning – it’s time to put those freed resources to good use and make way for a greener, more efficient future.

  • Secure peace of mind

With your equipment under the watchful eye of round-the-clock security and alarms, your servers are safer than ever. As for digital security, your data centre will benefit from advanced firewall and encryption technology, as well as compliance with the EU General Data Protection Regulation.

 

Ready to migrate your data centre? Get our full Data Centre Migration Checklist, and begin your journey to a more efficient, cost-effective future with confidence.