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Planning a Data Center Migration When Upgrading Your SAN

Data migration can be a tricky business with plenty of pain points and pitfalls along the way. If you’re not properly prepared, an IT upgrade can become cumbersome, time consuming and insecure.

Combat best begins with a plan.

Planning a Data Center Migration

When migrating data center equipment to new facilities, whether because of merger or consolidation, you want to be sure that all data stays secure and that you keep moving costs as low as possible.

We’ve laid out some planning steps that can help ensure that these priorities stay in place.

Looking to make your data migration safer and easier? Click here to download our Nimble Storage array pre-installation checklist today.

Clean House

Migration comes with risks for even the savviest of IT professionals – that’s just its nature. The more equipment that you move, the higher the risk.

That being said, the migration period is a great time to clean house.

Go over your hardware and software provider contracts to see if any of them need to be terminated. If so, go ahead and do so before the move so that you can minimize the amount of equipment and your risk.

Also consider your new center: Will there be any compatibility concerns between the space and your current equipment load? Will you need to consider smaller equipment architecture (i.e. pods) to have everything fit or do you have more space?

This is a great time to clean out old, archaic or bulky equipment, ditch service providers that you aren’t happy with, review contracts, and begin organizing and structure your moving process.

Things to consider in this stage:

1. Do you need to buy new equipment?

2. Are you shipping in one big haul or in smaller chunks?

  • There are companies that specialize in helping IT teams with their data migration. Consider looking for professional movers if you have a large load.

3. Are you only moving some and leaving the rest behind?

  • Consider service contracts – if equipment breaks along the way, you could be looking at added cost and downtime.

4. Are any of your contracts up?

  • If not, will everything fit into your new space efficiently?

5. Do you need to change your equipment setup in the new facility?

6. Can you have network downtime or not?

  • Many IT companies cannot, but you need to consider this before laying out just how you are going to migrate.

Get to Know Your Network Inside and Out

You need to be able to compare before and after your migration to know that it was a success. So before you even begin the moving process, comb through your IT environment and make lists tracking all equipment, workloads, backups, etc.

In this step, you want to draw the best, most complete picture possible of your network environment.

Things to consider in this stage:

1. Take inventory of all equipment.

  • Check against system log to make sure all equipment is there.
  • If only some of your equipment is moving, tag it and document its information (serial number, etc.).
  • Double check that you have a warranty on it and that the move won’t void it.

2. Change disaster recovery setup.

  • Data recovery needs to correlate with your new center location in case anything should happen during the move.
  • For best practices, have a physical backup, as well.
  • Test disaster recovery before the actual migration.

3. Draw a complete picture of your network environment.

  • You want to have enough information about your network that after migration, you can compare the new setup to the old one and see if it matches.
  • Make sure there is nothing left behind that isn’t accounted for in your notes.
  • Think of this as leaving breadcrumbs to get you out of the migration forest.

Organize and Complete the Move

Once you’ve got all of the equipment organized and accounted for, it’s time to dedicate those organization skills to the move itself.

Most IT teams like to schedule a data migration during a time that they predict will be less busy. Depending on the company, this can be difficult. We suggest scheduling it at the completion of a big project, a business quarter or perhaps over a holiday.

If you aren’t using a third party for your move, you are going to need to make sure that your IT team covers both areas: the physical and the digital.

You can decide who gets to do the heavy lifting, but you also need some people to monitor the migration digitally, getting things back online, running backups, testing new setup, etc. to make sure that everything is running smoothly and reduce business risk.

Come up with a moving system, stick to it and make sure everyone involved is on the same page.

Things to consider in this stage:

1. Schedule moving date.

2. Organize movers ahead of time.

  • Make sure that everyone knows his/her role on moving day and how they can best utilize that role to reduce risk.

3. Pack up equipment with unpacking in mind.

  • Label everything in great detail, including exactly what it is and where it is going (ex. Room #).
  • Size up your new space and move equipment in a way that makes the most sense from A to B (i.e. takes the least amount of time).

4. Know your weak areas.

  • Data security is key, and during a move, you are more vulnerable to attacks than usual.
  • To help prevent weakness:
  •      Know your movers.
  •      Purge and get rid of old equipment properly.
  •           Recycle or destroy depending on situation.
  •      Collect things like security keys and sensitive documents.

Test New Environment

After the physical part is over or as it is still going in other rooms, your digital team needs to start testing. This includes taking a new equipment inventory and comparing it with the old one to make sure that nothing was lost along the way. They’ll also want to compare running systems and applications.

This is a good time to compare your before and after scenarios, analyze your data migration for successes and failures, and plan for the future.

Things to consider in this stage:

1. Make sure that new inventory matches the old, and that all differences are accounted for.

2. Make sure system applications are running as before migration.

3. Evaluate your migration. Ask yourself:

  • What was a success?
  • What was a failure?
  • Were there any unexpected events, and if so, what were they? How could you avoid them next time?
  • Did your plan work?
  • Did you meet your deadline?
  • Does your team agree that the move was a success? (Ask them!)
Looking to make your data migration safer and easier? Click here to download our Nimble Storage array pre-installation checklist today.

CTC Technologies, Inc. Can Help You Plan

There are many ways to complete a successful data migration, and they’ll look different for each company. However, one common thread running among them should be that they involve careful planning.

One key thing to take away is that organization and documentation are crucial to this process. Should you have to complete another migration in the future, you would be doing yourself a solid if you had detailed notes to look back on and see what worked and what didn’t.

Documentation is also good to have should anything in your new center run awry or should higher-ups have any questions about how, when, why or where you did something. After all, data security is serious business. We know that.

We want to help you prepare for and complete a successful data migration. If you’re looking to make the move and want help, give us a call at 734.408.1993.