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Secrets to a successful data center or server room relocation

Secrets to a successful data center or server room relocation

by Shawn Simon on Tuesday, May 28 22:12

Secrets to a successful data center or server room relocation

One of the most difficult challenges a data center or server room manager has is hardware relocation. Depending on the size of the staff, even the smallest of hardware relocations have roadblocks.

The great thing about our technology today, is often times a hardware relocation can be avoided with migration. This is not always the case, and you may have to get in there, roll up the sleeves and perform heavy lifting.

The reality is that your physical hardware has physical and logical dependencies to account for. There is also a risk that when you move and relocate the devices it wont come back on line. Of course the more hardware that is involved with your data center move, the more complex it will become.

The good news is that there are steps that can be taken to streamline a data center or server room move by mitigating the most common risks, reducing down time, all while making the move successful.

Prioritize your hardware The single most important thing to a data center move actually happens weeks before the move itself. The most critical component is having a plan. Assemble a list of the peripheral equipment and machines that you intend to relocate, and make notes of redundant hardware. Remember if you can stagger when they are offline, you can avoid an interruption of service to clients.

Consider which machines are most critical for you business, and establish which equipment will need to be offline for the least amount of time. Ranking order in your equipment will enable you to determine which order to power down and restart hardware. The goal is last off, first to come back on!

Plan the Hardware Deployment

Think about how you want you servers, storage devices, and network equipment arranged at the destination. Consider rack, and space requirements prior to the actual setup. This also includes having the proper hardware to secure these devices within their environment. Often times the original cage nuts or screws are not able to be reused. Also verify that all shelving and rails are able to be reused in the new racks.

While there can be advantages in moving full racks of servers, there are also great reasons to re-rack as well. If you have redundant servers in the same cabinet, this would be a great time to separate them. If you are populating a brand new data center or server room think about your overall strategy of allocating hardware and floor space. Do you want to put hardware by type or function? Maybe you want to mix the gear so the most power hungry systems aren t clustered together, and requiring great powering and cooling density in a given cabinet.

Create a move time line Estimate how long the data center move will take. Sketch down a timeline for powering down equipment, cable management, un-racking, packaging, clean up, loading the moving trucks at the origin, and travel time; the same is applied at the destination. You will also want to add in trouble shooting time for any given instances such as component failures. Be generous with your time estimates. It is much better to estimate job completion being a total of 28 hours, but then actually completing in 18 hours.

Opt to select a moving or transportation company

Look and research movers that have experience in the packing, handling, and transportation of highly sensitive equipment (and data). Ideally look for a mover that specializes in the data center moving industry, or has a track record of working in the industry. Be sure to document what elements in the data center relocation that the transportation company will be responsible for, or what roll they will play. For example, will the movers package and secure the equipment held within your cabinets, or will you? If there is damage to the equipment, will the moving company pay for the damages? Does the server moving company have the correct insurances that will cover the entire process of your data center relocation?

Instruct the movers Work with the moving company representatives and create written instructions for the movers to follow when at your facility. These instructions should also include operational standards you normally have in your data centers, and move specific instructions. Do the movers need to check in, or wear identification badges while onsite? Do the movers have access to the entire building, or data center? Are certain areas going to be off limits? Do you prefer the data center movers to use a loading dock, or street entrance?

Schedule the move You want to establish a move time that is the least disruptive to your business. If your company employs maintenance windows in which down time is acceptable or freeze periods when it is not, plan accordingly. Plan the actual move avoiding heavy traffic times, sporting events, or severe weather for example.

Establish a back out-plan If there an infrastructure problem for example, you want to be able to gracefully halt some or all of the relocation activities. Once you have completed all of these steps, you are almost ready for moving day. Label hardware and cabinets

Prior to the move label all of your hardware, cabinets, and floor tiles at the destination. Post a diagram on each cabinet listing which tile location it will be transported to. If you are re-racking hardware include a simple line sketch documenting the position in which it be relocated to in the new cabinet from top to bottom. Color coding is also a great option for the prior mentioned, and makes it very obvious. For example use blue labels specifically for one cabinet, and label all of the equipment with blue labels that will be assigned to this space. Diagrams complimented with a color coding system makes for an easier transition.

Pre-cable patch cords For any fully populated rack moves, you can transport them with any connected patch cords carefully coiled up inside. For equipment that will need to be re-racked, pre-patched cabling at the destination floor tiles; because you will know how the equipment will be arranged you will be able to calculate how many cables and lengths at each tile.

Obtain equipment spares Set aside a set of components that might become non-operational during the relocation process. You don t want to extend the relocation because you do not have a spare power supply for example. Cage screws & nuts, patch cords, connections, and even server cabinets are good to have extra s of as well.

Protect the data center Transporting a lot of staff, and equipment across the data center creates a lot of wear and tear on the room. It may be a good idea to put down tacky mats at the entrances, and exits of the floors in the room. Protection along the route of travel on floors to protect tiles could also be a good option.

Executing the move With all of your prep work done, it s time to carry out the move. Bring all hands on deck! The goal of any relocation is to have it performed quickly and carefully so the down time is minimal, and there is no damage to any of the buildings (data centers). Remember the more experienced people involved with any data center relocation, the shorter down time!

Supervise the move It is still important at all times to supervise the people and equipment to verify that the process and handling is appropriate at all times. This includes even following server cabinets to verify that they are being moved slowly, and lifted slightly at lips of doorways. Movers should remove all protective wrapping before entering the destination data center. This will reduce dirt and foreign contaminants from entering the room.

After the move

Once the computer equipment has been moved to their new location, be sure to remove all old and dated labeling. Be sure to keep the new labeling in place.

Restart the equipment Begin to power your equipment according to the sequence mapped out before the move. Be sure to bring systems online gradually, especially those that are sharing electrical circuits. It can be tempting to turn on multiple servers at once, but doing so in a staggered manner reduces the chances of overloading an electrical circuit and tripping a breaker.

Update your hardware database Finally, when the devices have been moved be sure to update their server location in whatever data bases you use to track their location!

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