19 October 2021

5 strategies for planning and resourcing your data centre migration project

Data centre migrations are generally multi-year propositions, and even if you have a clear vision, a detailed roadmap, and a team of skilled people and partners to bring it to life, there will inevitably be unforeseen bumps in the road.

With many organisations planning or considering similar projects, over the coming months we’ll be opening the archives to explore Migration stories from the otherside, sharing the most successful projects where we’ve supported our customers to master their migrations. The first blog in this series explored how to identify the need for change so that it can be sold to the business.

We work with Australia’s leading companies and innovators to help them identify opportunities and overcome challenges on the path to a more interconnected, flexible, resilient and sustainable operating environment.

Conducting the early planning for colocation and deciding how to resource your migration project seems like it should be fairly straightforward.

However, experience tells us there are often unforeseen challenges along the way. This is particularly true in the context of the current business environment, where accelerating organisational and technological change is the norm.

Here are the top five strategies to get across for a successful hosted migration project:

1: Have a well-articulated vision

Before the detailed planning and resource allocation even begins, it’s essential you have a clear understanding of your vision and ‘end state’.

“It sounds simple but work out where you want to be at the end of the project and define your path backwards from there,” according to the Regional Network Manager of a leading financial services company, who recently oversaw a major project to rethink the company’s IT infrastructure.

“We had a vision of where we wanted our environment to be at the end of five years, and we built the supporting infrastructure around that.”

2: Engage your partners early

By engaging your data centre or other migration partner early, you gain a better understanding right from the outset of critical components such as resilience, interconnectivity, security, compliance and sustainability, according to NEXTDC FSI specialist, Michael Bounader, who supports NEXTDC’s largest and most complex FSI migrations.

“Once you know what your end-state looks like, it’s critical that you prioritise selecting a migration partner with the capabilities to align with your journey,” Bounader said.

“We encourage comprehensive discovery and planning sessions early on, so we can thoroughly understand where you are at that moment and help surface the full downstream advantages the cloud and your broader digital strategy will deliver.”

“The earlier we have these discovery sessions – where we can flag potential regulatory issues and common stumbling blocks – the earlier we can help resolve them,” Bounader added.

3: Take a whole-of-business view early on

NEXTDC’s State Manager for WA, Claire Sangster says ‘The most functional internal project teams tend to take a whole-of-business approach from the very beginning of the project.”

“Canvassing a range of views from across the business will help develop a common understanding of goals and outcomes and will help you paint a clear picture in the business case that the risk of doing nothing is worse than the immediate pain of change”.

The make-up of your core team will vary based on the scope and nature of your project but as a bare minimum it should include senior technical leaders; security, risk and compliance managers; a representative from your finance department, people and organisational change managers, and an expert communicator to help you engage with stakeholders and translate technical concepts into the language of the business.

“I stood up my core team very early on, and they even came on site visits and helped to select providers,” adds the IT leader from strategy one, above.

“It helped to get different takes on what we were seeing, particularly from people who don’t necessarily have a technical background.”

4: Plan for contingency

Hope for the best, prepare for the worst. In the language of large-scale migration projects, that means ensuring you have the capability built into your team to build and activate a contingency plan from early on in the project.

“The most successful migration projects I’ve seen are the ones that plan for all the contingencies that inevitably come up,” said NEXTDC’s Claire Sangster.

“They are involved early and test every scenario – moving from the old to the new site, making sure all the links are up and running, and so on.”

5: Stay true to your core and build the rest on

Finally, if certain skills and technologies are not your core competency, leveraging partner ecosystems and other specialists can be a gamechanger in the successful delivery of a project. This blended or hybrid model of work reduces risk, improves tech adoption, and helps you access the required talent and technologies at a much faster speed.

There is no single answer for what the ideal composition of a blended team is (i.e. one that is made up of a company’s own people, strategic partners and other third-party specialists). However, there are tools that can help you arrive at an answer.

In a recent report, McKinsey provided a matrix that helps leaders to assess each tech project against two criteria (fit with organisation’s capability and business model). That assessment informs the resourcing and execution approach for each project, including the best mix of internal and external resources.

Conclusion

While there is no formula for planning and resourcing of significant migration projects, having a well-articulated vision that is aligned to the priorities of the broader business is the critical first step. Standing up a cross-functional team of internal and external expertise and partners early on in the project will also help achieve this whole-of-business viewpoint.

Reach out to NEXTDC to find out how an early partnership can help you build a strong case for change, minimise project risk and lay the groundwork for a successful migration journey.