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3 Key Phases of a Data Centre Migration

Posted By Stephen Skinner / February 28, 2017 / Consulting / 0 Comments

Data centre relocation/consolidation/migration is not just about moving servers from one location to another location. It is about moving the core business controls & operations of an organization. It is comparable to performing an organ transplant operation while keeping the patient in “business as usual” condition.

A simplified migration and relocation methodology typically runs in a three-phased approach to migrate client data, applications and IT equipment. This approach ensures that all the elements of the project are managed successfully.

Data centre migration

Phase 1: Discovery and Assessment

The following data is collected:

  • Business objectives
  • Goals for the project
  • IT infrastructure
  • Service level agreements
  • General operating design points and constraints.

During this phase the availability requirements of the most critical applications, the inventory, the IT equipment as well as the physical and logical dependencies between the applications and the IT infrastructure are collected.

Dependencies are critical, as they help to understand what equipment needs to be moved together to ensure the applications work as anticipated in the new data centre. A good example of a dependency would be identifying the web, database and middleware servers connected to the application servers and networks that support a particular application.

Several techniques may be used to develop multiple, high-level approaches for relocating equipment and applications. Approaches may range from migration of an application online as the application is in use, to simply backing the equipment up, shutting it down, transporting it to the new data centre and re-installing it. Developing the skills and resource requirements matrix for the platform and application owners, relocation specialists and project management skills is required. The deliverable of a discovery and assessment phase is a high-level plan with complete guiding principles as well as the roadmap and strategy that describes how to achieve a flawless migration/ relocation.

Phase 2: Transition or Design and Planning

Develop a review of the advantages, risks and costs of each migration approach, customized to the specific environment. In practice, most clients choose a combination of approaches to balance the tradeoffs between application outage windows, project risk and cost, so careful planning is required to optimize across these variables.

At this stage risk mitigation plans are also developed.  Clients review plans to fix any unsupported IT environments. Target solution design is developed. Detailed migration plans are created to manage both the overall project and the task level plans for each wave. The plans define the skills and resources required including resources from third party IT vendors. Team lists are compiled which identify the individuals who are participating in the project and their tasks and responsibilities. Contact lists and escalation procedures are developed. Finally, any changes to the expenses estimates are documented and communicated to the stakeholders.

The outcome of the transition phase is a set of documented plans and risk mitigation strategies which will ensure reduced project risk and flawless execution. Fallback plans which describe the actions we’ll take if an unanticipated event occurs that may disrupt the project or create an unplanned outage are developed.  Defining these plans in advance ensures that timely actions and decisions are taken and the appropriate stakeholders are notified.

Phase 3: Implementation and Execution

Build according to the solution agreed upon and execute the migration/relocation plans. It is possible to remediate the unsupported IT environments by virtualizing and/or decommissioning equipment before or after as per the guiding principles developed in the assessment phase.  Rehearse the migration plans for critical environments and test the fallback procedures.  Make necessary final adjustments to the plans and then implement the migration. Issues are logged, resources are assigned and the project status is updated.

During all phases of the project, very strong program governance and team communication are in place to conduct and ensure all aspects of the project are managed to successful conclusion. The outcome of the implementation phase is a data centre migration/relocation that is seamless to end users.


At R3P Consulting, our thought leadership approach leads to IT outsourcing solutions and managed IT services that save money, reduce risk, and improve service. Contact us for a diagnostic assessment and to discuss how to get the most out of your IT providers.


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