Proper migration of IT services to a data center can save money and time, minimize the need for in-house resources, and eliminate the physical room needed to store servers, computers, and other essential hardware. A smooth transition means being able to focus on business operations, making a profit, and serving the community. An improper migration can mean having to shut down operations or delay starting a new venture. Bad planning can mean constant fixes that never really seem to work and months or years of frustration.
IT departments and businesses should focus on these key steps, in addition to first speaking with experienced data center migration professionals, before and during the migration process:
- Know the reason for the migration. Some of the main reasons companies explore using data centers for cloud services include scalability – the ability of the company to grow its network, add new software applications, and meet the storage demands of the company’s growth. A company merger or change in structure may drive a change. Keeping up with all the latest technology choices can be a drain on company resources. Security breaches may be the motivation. Companies may need extra resources to meet compliance requirements.
- Have a strategy. Many companies need a year and a half from the time they think about migration to the actual migration. During this time, the company should be speaking with data management experts and in-house IT experts to analyze who will be responsible for the migration, which phases are dependent on other phases, what business needs must be met during the migration, what the growth expectations of the company are, and other business, legal, and IT practical concerns.
- Explain the migration process to those who need to know. Each department of the company should understand how the migration will take place and what their role is in the migration.
- Understand that each department will view the migration differently. While the IT department may enjoy the challenge, other departments may see it as a lot of extra work and frustration. Make sure there is communication between departments and between the company and the data center.
- Perform an inventory review. Before doing any data migration, the company should analyze all of its current hardware and software resources. Determine which resources may depend on others, which resources are essential, and what items must be backed up.
- Determine how long the current resources can be down. Practically, some services may need to be offline at night or for short period of times. If services are down, be sure that compliance requirements are met and that customers are aware of when systems will be down.
- Have a backup plan. As much as possible, be able to implement backup hardware, software, and data so that company operations can continue. Plan for the equipment and software needed to implement the backup plan.
- Do the migration in stages. Each stage of the migration should be planned. Typically, when the operations are transferred to the data center, there is a testing period to first make sure the servers, networks, and other services work with each other. The software should be tested before it is made public. Security monitoring and cloud management services should be checked. Everything should be done to make certain the new system works and can be quickly replicated or replaced if problems arise.
- Prepare for the new system. Every IT operation has a learning curve for those who use it. Train users and company staff on how to use the new technology. Where necessary, educate customers if their online view of products, services, or personal information has changed.
- Once the new data center system is verified, the old system should be turned off. After a probationary period, the old system should be properly stored. Local health, safety, and environmental issues should be addressed.