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Your Data Center Relocation, A to Z

Your Data Center Relocation, A to Z

by Shawn Simon on Wednesday, May 22 10:31

Your Data Center Relocation, A to Z

There are many pieces of the puzzle that a person will need to put together to create a complete picture. The picture is obviously being able to successfully move your data center or servers.

Here is our check list to set a correct path for your data center moving project.

Implement a Data Center Method Identify the Risks Assess the Risks Create a Checklist Distribute project management responsibilities

There are several options, and interpretations to a data center relocation. There are probably almost as many ways to conduct a data center relocation or consolidation as there are consultants and I.T. vendors who offer these complex services.

The experience and skills of the people involved in planning and moving your data center significantly matter. While most I.T. methods share some basic commonalities, there can be significant differences based on the size of the project, the scope of the migration (local, across-country, or international), and the capabilities of the team that will be responsible for the project s success.

Project scale Outside of the largest organizations, those with mature program and project management offices, the requisite skills and experience to manage a project of this size and complexity may be scarce or inadequately supported particularly for a data center relocation.

Complexity Unless your project manager team is data center relocation -experienced, the amount, diversity, and depth of detailed information that must be uncovered, analyzed, and acted upon will be a real challenge. Even to the most experienced IT personnel.

Focus In many small systems and non-I.T. business or office relocations, the focus is more on completion the project. How it is accomplished just isn t as complicated as a data center move. In a Data Center Relocation, the how becomes critically important.

In the data center relocation setting, when is of course, important. But even more critical is how we plan to get there.

How is quite difficult. The focus of your data center relocation must be on how your systems, applications, and networks will migrate. In a business environment, how you execute a mission critical project, such as a data center relocation or consolidation, determines your true schedule and costs. When is merely a derivative of that function. As you begin to plan your project, you will quickly notice that no one has all the details not you, not the data center operations and technical staff, nor your vendors and consultants.

These details will be uncovered over time, but only with a lot of hard, gritty work by you and the entire data center relocation team. Learn the process at the start and it will help you manage workloads and stakeholder expectations in the future.

A good data center relocation method is based on many years of real-world data center relocation and consolidation experience. Use it because it is a well-proven and cost effective approach.

Once the project is defined and the core team assembled, there are certain activities that are essential.

Here is a simple list of the ten most critical tasks that any data center relocation project manager must take care of:

Inventories hardware, applications, and every component that will be relocated or consolidated. The inventories need to be detailed, accurate, and complete with equipment model and serial numbers, configurations, replacement value, vendor contacts, and a diagram of how each system is de-installed (before) and re-installed (after). You won t get the detail required without considerable effort. So, if this comes easily, you haven t done it right.

Security the dominating characteristic of a large data center relocation is activity. Everything is in motion at one point or another. A good security plan will help ensure that data doesn t disappear, that unauthorized people are kept away, and that the business remains un-compromised.

Planning from the early pre-planning phase through detailed data center relocation planning, to schedule development and the move days, you will spend far more time and effort on this area than anywhere else.

Budget data center relocations are expensive, very expensive if what you are relocating or consolidating is a major facility. The data center relocation budget must adequately cover new construction, renovation, site closure, equipment, staff, tools, and outside expertise from vendors and data center relocation specialists. Managing the budget and keeping your executive management well informed are major challenges.

RFPs, SOWs & Contracts Vague RFPs make for poor SOWs. Poor SOWs make for terrible contracts. Take the time to work with data center relocation specialist s right from the start to develop the right RFPs and Statements of Work (SOWs) for your project. Use the data center relocation

Specialists Selection of the right data center relocation specialist is important. But, do you need one single company to do it all? That depends on you. If you re internal data center relocation teams lack specialist skills, whether in planning, schedule (Move Domain & Move Days) development, or equipment de-installation, moving, and re-installation, then you will need to acquire that one company that can provide all of the required services. Not many data center relocation companies actually provide the services they offer,

Plan the Move Moving equipment is a critical part of the project. Systems must be broken down, packed, transported, re-assembled, tested, and re-certified. Racks and other equipment support systems must be ready, utilities and communication services need to be ready, and people have to be migrated from where they are now to where they will be. Prepare the New Facility; Close the Old One Inspections of any new or renovated data center must focus on more than the technology being installed. You must ensure that fire suppression systems are ready, tested and approved. Cooling systems must be adequate for projected growth. Utilities must be in place and operational. And, the place must be clean very clean. While you are necessarily focused on the destination, you must also do what is necessary to de-commission equipment that won t move and close the old data center facility.

Backup the Data your backup media will work (it always does, you should never have problems), but just in case it doesn t this time, you need to have a recovery plan. And that plan must be thoroughly tested, with practice runs conducted at regular intervals during the detailed planning phase. Virtualization tools can be utilized here to host systems remotely. But even there, a data center relocation based recovery plan is essential. And it s not the master DR/COBplan that everyone has, but too few organizations test enough to assure that it will function as expected when required.

Migrate when it s time to move, stop planning and move. This is the moment when careful planning and capable project management result in a flawless move. When everything has been relocated or consolidated, the old systems retired, and the vendors have re-certified their products, you can take that well-earned vacation day. And then get ready for the next big project because management now has a better understanding of the business value of great project management. Risk of project failure is always present in any I.T. initiative, as it is in virtually every area of human endeavor. Industry data has long suggested that as many as 80% of all I.T. projects fail to deliver the benefits promised. For a data center relocation project failure can mean anything from minimal disruption and rapid recovery to substantial business interruption, loss of revenue, damage to your firm s reputation, civil lawsuits, and even government investigations. All of these are nice things to avoid.

Many (but, not all) project risks can be mitigated or even avoided, but only if they are identified and planned for in advance. For a data center relocation project, there are a few key areas of risk that always demand closer scrutiny:

1. Project management and execution 2. Budget 3. Technology & vendors 4. I.T. management, process, staff 5. Capacity Planning 6. Facilities & infrastructure, security 7. DataCenterRelocation planning & risk

There are always a few too many companies that fail to learn from the data center relocation mistakes (and successes!) of others. To reduce the inevitable risks that come with moving systems from one place to another, you should perform a risk assessment.

DataCenterRelocation Project Management Checklist

The size of your data center relocation project will determine the structure of the P.M. team. For a large enterprise initiative or one that will have global activity, you should implement the P.M.I program office model: an overall program manager will coordinate the activities of project managers. Project managers should be assigned to each key domain and/or location (in multi-site data center relocation s). Domains might include:

  • Mainframe/Host complexes
  • Server farms
  • DASD and Storage systems
  • Specialized equipment
  • Procurement and Logistics
  • Facilities
  • Voice/Data, etc.

A too common practice of assigning one P.M.to run the entire project may work for small efforts. Keep in mind large data center relocations will need a dedicated P.M. team. The role of the project manager in any data center relocation or consolidation is critical. It will determine the projects success, or failure. Your project managers will be among the most experienced and capable in the organization.

Your project management team (and for a larger project, you will need a team) should ideally be supported with an enterprise-wide Program Management Office (P.M.O). The P.M.O should have the authority and budget to commit and manage the resources (budget, people, processes) needed to ensure the project s success.

Among the many responsibilities that the data center relocation project manager will have are to:

  • Lead meetings to manage and coordinate data center relocation, consolidation, and migration plans.
  • Lead meetings to manage and coordinate D.C.R., consolidation, and migration requirements, specifications, and architecture.
  • Lead meetings to manage and coordinate D.C.R., consolidation, and migration execution.
  • Create and maintain Microsoft Project, Excel, and Visio documentation, track and support overall project direction and progress on a daily and weekly basis.
  • Interface with construction manager(s), crew leads, and data center build teams.
  • Manage outside data center vendors and services suppliers.
  • Direct and coordinate cross-functional organizational activities for the project to ensure that key goals or objectives are accomplished.
  • Be effective working among highly technical IT professionals.

Manage and complete the project within an intense operational production data center environment, while using sound technical, political, and procedural judgment throughout the process. Ensure financial accountability and electronic logging for data center assets, particularly in a large enterprise I.T. environment.

DCR Project Management Responsibilities

Once you have the core team in place, you can begin to develop a detailed scope:

  1. Is this relocation within the existing campus or to a new facility at a distance?
  2. What will move?
  3. What will remain?
  4. When is this supposed to happen?
  5. What is the financial plan?
  6. Will you do it with in-house staff?
  7. Will you use consultants?
  8. What migration strategy forklift, swing, swap ?
  9. Who are the key stakeholders?

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