Moving data, systems, and workloads from one location to another can be daunting. Successfully meeting timelines, budgets, and business objectives for this complex undertaking requires thorough planning and cross-functional collaboration. Organizations migrate for a host of reasons, including:
- Cost controls: Transitioning infrastructure spending from a CapEx to an OpEx model by decommissioning a data center or hosting data and systems in the cloud.
- Management efficiency: Moving to a data center that enables modern management capabilities. Gartner projects that 35% of data center infrastructure will be managed from a cloud-based control plane by 2027, up from less than 10% in 2022.1
- Cooling techniques: Using a data center that provides the cooling capabilities that enable the high-performance computing and advanced networking required to operate modern workloads. According to analysis by the Dell’Oro Group, powering the racks for AI infrastructure requires transitioning data centers from air to liquid cooling.2
- Power availability: Migrating to a data center that meets current and future power demands. Data center operators are prioritizing power availability as many major North American markets grapple with power constraints.3
Regardless of the migration drivers and desired infrastructure end-state, following data center migration best practices can enhance the process and outcomes.
Create a detailed plan with phases
Before starting, the IT team should thoroughly assess the current infrastructure and document application and workload dependencies. They should apply that knowledge toward creating a detailed migration plan with feasible goals, responsibilities, timelines, budgets, workstreams, and phases. Establish clear objectives and executables for each phase and continuously measure progress towards them so any potential learnings can be incorporated into future phases.
Assess and mitigate risks
Identify any potential challenges and develop contingency plans for every phase. With business-critical data and systems in transit, robust security and risk mitigation strategies are essential. Regularly back up data and systems throughout the project and store immutable copies in case of a sudden or unaccounted-for incident.
Communicate progress and changes
It’s crucial to establish executive buy-in early and provide them with transparent updates throughout the process. Also, develop a thorough change management strategy and communication plan to share timelines, potential service disruptions, and expected outcomes with all affected business units, partners, and customers.
Test and validate the new environment
Before transitioning, have the team conduct comprehensive testing of workload performance, functionality, and security in the new environment. Validation of server and network performance, cooling and power potential, and disaster recovery capabilities can help uncover and address any potential issues.
Optimize capabilities post-migration
Once completed, continuously monitor the new environment’s performance and security. Look for ways to increase automation and streamline management and operations. Optimizing performance, security, and resource utilization can minimize the potential for future migrations.
Data center migration requires meticulous planning, strategic execution, and continuous evaluation. Following these best practices can help ensure a smooth transition to a new environment that meets performance, cost, and operational objectives.
- Gartner, Gartner Says Four Trends Are Shaping the Future of Cloud, Data Center and Edge Infrastructure, May 2023.
- SDX Central, Why data centers need to invest in infrastructure to meet AI demands, August 2023.
- CBRE, North America Data Center Trends H1 2023, September 2023.