By Simon Cooper, Chief Operating Officer, NEXTDC
Outsourcing your data centre service to a purpose-built facility offers greater efficiency, reliability and security. It also opens up new opportunities to connect with an ecosystem of other relevant service providers. If your business is looking to make the switch, it’s important to get the planning right. This will make sure you avoid unplanned downtime and unnecessary costs. This five-step guide to planning your move will help minimise business disruption:
1. Evaluate business goals
As with any business decision, you need to be clear on why you’re making the move to an external data centre. There are significant operational benefits including lower power bills but outsourcing your data centre management will also free up the business to focus on core strengths and long-term goals. Before you plan a data centre migration, be clear about your broader business goals and how they’ll be supported by your outsourcing strategy. How will you use this change to drive those goals?
2. Map out risks
Large-scale data migration is a complex project and even with detailed planning there will be unforeseen circumstances to deal with. Listing every potential risk, whether it’s great or small, gives you the opportunity to put plans in place. This might involve having temporary equipment on standby, shifting workflows elsewhere or deciding how you’ll manage unplanned downtime. You want the move to have minimal impact on customers and employees, so identify high-risk applications and crucial systems that need to be kept up and running. Clearly map out who needs to know about problems and your strategy for overcoming them.
3. Communicate with stakeholders
Determine how the move will affect customers, staff, business partners and any other internal or external stakeholders so you can communicate potential issues well in advance. This gives them the opportunity to do their own planning and make sure they’re not negatively impacted by any nasty surprises. When moving critical infrastructure and applications, it’s important that all relevant stakeholders are well-informed about the process, expected timeframes and contingency plans. You should also plan to get rapid support from suppliers so you can ensure they’re ready to go when you need them to swing into action.
4. Consider logistics
Moving internal infrastructure to a new data centre is a significant physical project, so you need to be prepared for the logistics involved in making the move. This could mean ensuring equipment is packed properly to avoid damage or labelling it clearly to avoid confusion at the other end. Make sure you’re aware of the layout of the new data centre and find out if it offers any support services that will help you migrate. For example, does it provide space to test your equipment once onsite or installation services that will get your infrastructure into the data hall?
5. Design for improvement
There’s no point shifting to an external data centre if everything is set up the same way. Decide on the improvements you want to gain whether it’s reduced rack space or better interconnection. Design the new setup to achieve these goals, bearing in mind any future capability or flexibility you need. This will help you avoid restructuring again further down the track as your business continues to grow.
Migrating to a colocation data centre will deliver significant benefits, but it can be a high-risk and challenging project if not planned effectively. To ensure a successful move, plan everything well in advance from physically moving infrastructure to communicating with providers and customers. Ideally, your data centre should offer support to make the move a smooth and painless one – whether that’s assistance during the planning stage or providing installation services to get you up and running with minimum effort.
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