The huge rise in the amount of data that companies are now having to store has led to an upsurge in the number of businesses needing to relocate or migrate data centers.
Often, by migrating or relocating, a business can access a future-proof solution for its data storage needs, while also benefiting from enhanced security and even potential cost savings. However, there can be a significant amount of work involved in relocating a data center – and it doesn’t come without an element of risk.
One quick way to by-pass some of the headaches of relocation is to use a third party. TRG offers managed migration services through Colo+, allowing you to dropship all of your gear (or have us collect) and then rest easy while the team takes care of migrating it to the new location.
If you choose to take on the move yourself, below is a comprehensive guide on what you need to think about.
Review your insurance and warranties
Before you embark on the big move, it’s always a good idea to review your current equipment manufacturer warranties and make sure that the coverage you have will be sufficient. Commercial liability insurance is a must-have here. Most policies won’t cover injury or damage caused during transit, particularly if you are driving or transporting equipment yourself, so make sure you have the right coverage for when you actually move the gear.
If there are any limitations on the coverage, you’ll need to know about these now. Then, look into your internal insurance policies and those of the moving company (if any) you have chosen to partner with. Check that these will cover you for any eventuality so you can proceed with confidence.
You might think you know your equipment like the back of your hand, but it’s all too easy to miss something. So, we recommend that you inventory all hardware and virtual system elements, taking care to record findings about these items as you go. Make a note of the condition of your equipment as well as its size, weight and any serial numbers that could be used to help identify it further down the line.
Plan your budget
Budget is a big consideration in any move, and it’s something we always recommend you consider before anything else. Make sure you’ve got a set budget in mind for the move and ensure that this budget covers everything you might need. Typical budgets should include overtime costs, contingency plans, additional staffing, relocation company costs, infrastructure, cooling requirements, wiring and the costs associated with risk identification.
Data protection & backups
Data loss shouldn’t be an issue if a migration is carried out the right way – but it can unfortunately happen. Mitigating against data loss should be a core part of the relocation planning process. Before anything is shut down and relocated, double-check your data loss policies in place. Also be sure to carry out regular backups to protect against any loss or damage that may occur during the night of the move. Backups don’t just apply to data either. Be prepared with spare critical parts such as hard drives or optics in the event that any were damaged or lost during the move.
Contact network carriers & arrange re-IPing
Network relocation is normally the biggest problem area during a migration – partly because it’s so often underestimated in its complexity. As a rule, most network carriers should be contacted at least 30 days in advance of the move to ensure smoother migrations. If you’re changing carriers, you’ll also need to look into re-IPing all of your gear – and if there is a new network involved, it’s a good idea to pre-set the network before the actual move.
Arrange the right packing materials & transport
It’s crucial to avoid server damage and data loss during a move. The last thing you need is for the boxes to break or for the equipment to be jostled around during transit. Getting the right packing material is key, extra rigid thick boxes should be used to withstand the heavy weight of the servers. Packing foam should be anti-static that can conform to any equipment being transported. As for the transport itself, we recommend any vehicles carrying equipment have air ride suspension to avoid unnecessary bumps or jostling during the move.
Warn customers and staff about potential downtime
If your business is likely to experience any downtime during the move, give your teams plenty of time to warn customers about this. Downtime is usually readily accepted if customers are given enough notice of it, and the timeframe of downtime to be expected is well communicated. Staff too should be warned about the downtime well in advance.
Pre-set new networks
9/10 problems are caused by network errors, but with most migrations occurring over the weekend, it’s even more difficult to troubleshoot issues with more limited access to resources during this time. This is why it’s so important to get ahead of the game on network cutovers with the network being established at the new site prior to the move date whenever possible.
Create port assignment lists & rack diagrams
It’s a good idea to review and update diagrams of your racks, and verify the availability of backup copies. If any upgrades will be needed during the migration process, now’s the time to organize these.
You’ll also want to start preparing the target server area. Issues to consider here include network connectivity. You’ll need to obtain a diagram of the server room and establish how network cabling, power management and rack placement will be laid out. Think about VPNs and DNS as you do so.
Port assignment lists can be a lifesaver here, helping to avoid errors and potential confusion when unhooking and rehooking complex cabling during the move.
Pre-construction will make migration exponentially easier. Here at TRG we use universal rails so you’re not having to spend time finding the correct parts when building the cabinets. Specialized hardware also makes reassembly faster, letting relocations be completed over one night. This is why it’s often a good idea to turn to professionals who are experienced in relocations.
Prepare your hardware and software
Some of the most overlooked prep items often include existing hardware and software. There are sometimes site, location or IP-specific settings within existing softwares that render them useless when moved. For instance, in the past we’ve seen storage platforms with geotags which mean the system won’t work after a relocation. To get around this you should make sure you call your provider so the location restrictions can be changed.
Plan & rehearse the night of the move
In-house deployment will follow, so plan safety procedure training and, if you can, rehearse the move with your in-house team. When it comes to planning the physical move of the servers, stick to a two-person rule to avoid injury and damage – this means two people and two sets of hands on any equipment being carried. When it comes to deploying your servers, you’ll also need to give yourself plenty of time to shut down servers, storage and networking devices in accordance with device guidelines.
Check (and double-check) equipment
While you should already have a full equipment inventory, port assignment lists and diagrams etc. in place, it always makes sense to check and double check your equipment when disassembling and moving it. Our data center cookbook has all the equipment information you need to assist here. Remember this, one missing piece of gear can cause a massive headache because, most of the time, the missing piece won’t be readily available in stores. Instead, any replacement equipment will need to be ordered online in advance.
All equipment should be checked, cleaned and repaired (if necessary and possible) before being packed. Give a team member the responsibility of checking these items, and signing off on all required tests. Having backups will also save you time and effort down the road here. In particular, make sure you have back up cables in the event something goes wrong with your hardware components.
OR you can enlist professionals
A data center relocation typically involves three main phases; preparation, the physical relocation and the digital migration. These have to happen in sequence to ensure a smooth transition with minimal downtime – which can be difficult given the number of moving parts to contend with during a relocation. However, there’s no reason why you need to shoulder the burden of all of these.
This is why it can pay to enlist the help of specialists to act as the ‘muscle’ and is exactly what turn-key services like Colo+ are there for. We ensure specialist hands-on services like this include all the inventory lists, moving equipment, backup gear, insurance and the professional experience in place to meet any incidents or challenges that come up during data center relocation. We take care of the physical move and reassembly overnight so you can focus 100% on getting the systems back online the next morning.
Relocating or migrating data center can be a tricky task, and it’s not without its risks. But we’re here to help guide you through the process, taking the hassle out of what might otherwise have been a time-consuming and difficult job. If you’d prefer to save on the hassle of a migration, TRG offers Colo+, a fully managed Houston colocation option that includes migration services. Our NOC team has completed over 20 successful data center migrations in the last year. Get in touch to find out more about our services and how we can help with your relocation or migration.