If it's time for you to migrate your data centre to a new location, here's a tip: learn every detail about effective data centre migration before you begin, so that you can avoid the major pitfalls so many organisations run into. Migrating a data centre is a lot like moving house, in principle. The more pre-migration planning your company does, the smoother the transition will be. Planning and organisation go hand-in-hand with smooth migrations that do not interrupt the flow of data Early Stage Planning The early stages of planning for a data centre migration start with a fundamental question: where are we migrating to? There are multiple options including migrating to a new facility operated by an entirely different organisation, migrating everything to the cloud, or keeping your data and hardware on your own premises. A lot of people are talking about migrating to the cloud right now, and with good reason. Moving data and hardware off-site to an independent data centre is a good starting move, but taking things to the cloud is even better. Getting data and hardware off-site can make data easier to manage as long as an organisation finds the right partner to work with. Finding that partner is an important part of early-stage planning. Migrating to a data centre provider or cloud service also eliminates the need to maintain hardware and software on-site. Organisations save money by not having to replace hardware, and there are no more concerns about maintaining the kind of environment necessary to keep data servers up and running at peak efficiency. In short, migrating to a service provider or cloud environment is a good idea. Here are a few other things to consider in early-stage planning: Gather as much input as possible, including input from department heads, consultants, vendors, and contractors. Create a budget and cost analysis to make sure you have the funding to support the migration. Create project management timetable that allows for 12 to 18 months for successful migration. Establish policies and procedures to keep all stakeholders on the same page throughout the project. Selecting the Right Team Putting early-stage planning into effect requires a supportive team at the other end of the migration to ensure that things are managed properly. That team can be provided by a new colocation partner or as a separate entity specialising in data centre migration, management, and testing services. The team is responsible for supervising the set-up and installation process at the new site and then testing both hardware and software to guarantee everything is in working order as quickly as possible. The chosen vendor must ideally have plenty of experience in data centre migration. Team leaders should be able to fully explain what they plan to do, how they plan to do it, and a timetable for completing the job. And above all else, team leaders on both sides of the migration should actively promote keeping the lines of communication open at all times. Executing the Migration With a basic, early-stage planning complete, it's time to move to execution planning. Execution should be based on a Current State Analysis that accounts for where things stand the moment the migration begins. All the tools necessary for migration should be secured and deployed in advance, applications should be moved in bundles, and analysis should be ongoing throughout the process. A seamless relocation is obviously the goal. A good transition tracking and management tool is indispensable once execution is under way. In addition, policies should be in place to provide real-time communication to everyone involved, including the highly skilled technicians charged with the physical move of equipment from one location to the other. Verification and Testing The last step of effective data migration is to verify re-racking, cabling, etc. before any hardware is powered up. Configurations must be verified and validated by a senior technician or specialist. Finally, equipment is powered on for testing purposes. The IT department has the final task of testing and verifying all applications, data, etc. The actual execution of the move may only take a few days from start to finish. So why plan for 12 to 18 months? Because it takes that long to get through the planning process and secure all the contractors and consultants necessary to complete a move. In short, the more time you put in on the front end of the project, the more quickly and smoothly the actual migration will go. An effective data centre migration, whether you are keeping it on site, moving it to a service provider's facility or taking everything to the cloud, rests almost entirely on planning. Don't go into a migration without making adequate plans that are checked and rechecked again.