Article by: Sachin Bhardwaj, Director Marketing & Business Development, eHosting DataFort
Change, even one for the better, comes with risk. Migrating to a colocation data centre – or any new data centre – should be accompanied by careful supervision and a well devised and executed strategy. Data and IT functionality are a critical element of any modern enterprise. While adopting a new data centre strategy holds the promise of efficiency and leaner ongoing costs, the transition can also result in negative disruptive outcomes – if it is enacted badly.
Migrating a data centre can be a formidable task at the best of times. While its advantages may be readily apparent as a strategy, the transition itself needs to be conducted with due process and proper planning. Data centres, especially ones that are optimised to the requirements of the business they serve, are a central pillar of functional efficiency. However, most legacy data centres are suboptimal in one way or another. The fact of the matter is that, as the role of data-driven business processes evolves rapidly, most legacy data centres are found wanting in either capacity, computational power or other limitations on throughput.
Elements of best practices in data centre migration:
A task as complex and multifaceted as a data centre migration requires a comprehensive and detailed plan for successful execution. A roll-out of any new IT technology or approach is fraught with unexpected outcomes. As a rule, IT professionals expect some unforeseen elements to any such change. This is especially true for a restructuring as fundamental as a data centre migration. It is, therefore, of the utmost importance that a good transition plan is devised and adhered to. Some essential elements and best practices that can help mitigate the possible downside to data centre migration are:
• Inventory of resources and analysis of existing systems: It is important that the legacy system being replaced is thoroughly assessed and tabulated. Several layers of technology – both hardware and software – are likely to be components in an existing system. Their interplay and codependence is a complex system that should be understood and accounted for prior to any migration.
• Creating a strategy for the migration: Different enterprises have different functional priorities. A careful and detailed strategy not only reduces the chance of a nasty surprise, it also helps to identify the basic elements that the new system needs to address as a priority, so that the least amount of disruption is experienced and the migration can be measured against expectations on an ongoing basis.
• Identify risks and have a risk management plan: Nearly any modern-day IT infrastructure is complex. Identifying likely sources of risk and making sure to create strategies to minimise and mitigate them is essential to any data centre migration. While it is likely to prove very difficult to identify every vulnerability, the process of listing likely risks does help in focusing the migration strategy.
• Creating a comprehensive and detailed testing plan: Testing, both pre- and post-migration, is an important element in maintaining the highest level of confidence in the integrity and capabilities of the IT infrastructure. It is important that a thorough and painstaking testing process is in place so that the migration can be assessed on a continual basis and bugs and contingencies can be isolated and addressed.
• Audit and documentation: It is extremely important that the migration is well audited and documented. The future functional integrity and capabilities of a migrated system should be measured against both pre-migration capabilities and post-migration expectations. A thoroughly audited migration also minimises the risk of vulnerabilities that are not apparent during initial test runs.
• Involve experts and value experience: A successful data centre migration can revitalise and empower businesses. However, the process itself is a complex challenge. In order to enhance the possibilities of a positive outcome, it is advisable to involve individuals and entities who have proven credentials and relevant real world experience. As in any other walk of life, experience is a valuable and hard-earned resource. Enterprises looking to undertake a data centre migration are well served by seeking out and involving experienced hands to assist with the process.
A data centre migration is an empowering strategy that can often create wonderful synergies and efficiencies within an organisation. However, a badly executed migration can be just the opposite. While such a move is a complex process, an enterprise can seek to limit any negative consequences through anticipation, planning and the involvement of experienced hands. It is important that an organisation undergoing the transition makes the effort to minimise disruption as well as maximising the benefits of the strategy.