Relocation or consolidation of a data center is a huge project that can take weeks, months, or even years to complete. Given that most companies rely on stable IT systems for their day to day operations, this is not a project that should be taken lightly. Learning about some of the common mistakes that are made during this process can be helpful when planning a move of your own.
The following are examples of things that companies have overlooked or done poorly during a data center transition in the past. These issues can result in outages, extended downtime, and other costly problems for a company. Below is a list of commonly seen issues and how you can avoid them when conducting your own relocation or consolidation.
Failing to Plan
When it comes to IT, there are few things bigger than conducting a data center relocation or consolidation. For some companies, especially smaller ones it seems, this huge undertaking is attempted without sufficient planning, or even without planning at all.
Some companies think that they can just move all the servers over the course of a weekend when the business is closed. This is a common mistake for smaller companies, and often results in the systems being down well into the new work week. A project like this requires much more effort than just physically moving the servers.
During this type of event, there are many things that need to be done. The following are just a few of the many items to make sure are planned for before beginning:
- Cable Running & Labeling
- Data Center Floor Layout
- Changing (and logging) of IPs
- Establishing New Logical Paths
- Application Dependencies
- Labeling & Tracking of New Equipment Locations
- Changes in Physical Security
- Proper Server Cabinets Installed
- Much More!
Ignoring Power Requirements
One of the biggest things that need to be planned for, but is too often forgotten, is the power requirements that will be in place in the destination data center. This is most often an issue when consolidating two or more data centers into one.
Data centers usually have high-end power management systems, and they can only support specific loads. This is especially true when there is a battery backup system working along with a diesel generator system.
A well-managed data center has the power usage tracked down to the kilowatt hour, and this is something that should be done well in advance of any move. In addition to just making sure a data center has the power needed to handle all the equipment for the present, it is also important to plan for future power usage for years to come.
Scheduling Upgrades During the Move
A data center consolidation or relocation is typically going to be handled by a core group of people. All the application and server owners will, of course, know when this event is going to take place, but will usually play a secondary role in the process.
This may make these teams think that it is acceptable to schedule any type of upgrade in the days leading up to, or just after the actual event. In fact, some teams mistakenly think that it is a good idea to schedule hardware upgrades during the move because the systems will have to be done already.
The fact is, for at least a week prior to, and a week after, any data center relocation or consolidation, absolutely nothing should be changed unless it is in response to an unscheduled outage. The system should be running in as stable an environment as possible to help minimize the risk of any type of problems during this huge event.
Beginning Without Establishing Pre-Move Baselines
For weeks, if not months, leading up to a large-scale event like this, all the IT teams should be gathering as much data as possible about their systems. This will help make it easier to determine how things are running in the new environment.
Taking baseline measurements prior to the move can help IT teams prove cost savings, power reductions, equipment expense reductions and much more to the upper level management. In addition, by taking these measurements prior to the move, it will be easier to spot any unexpected changes or other issues after the move, should they occur.
Trying to Handle IT On Their Own
Even seasoned IT professionals typically haven’t taken on any type of major data center relocation or consolidation in their careers. This type of project doesn’t happen too often, and will require some very specialized knowledge, especially for larger companies.
Rather than try to handle it on their own, it is a good idea to either bring in a consulting firm that specializes in this type of thing, or hire on an employee who has experience in this area. Experience can be invaluable in helping to ensure everything goes smoothly throughout this important process.