Data center relocation is one of those processes that may seem simple and straightforward but often ends up being quite complicated. To streamline the process, you need to think strategically about how to move infrastructure and workloads efficiently and reliably from one data center to another.
To guide the process, a data center relocation checklist can come in handy. With a checklist, you can clearly define the requirements of your relocation process, then ensure you are meeting them as the relocation proceeds.
Keep reading for guidance on why and how to develop a data center relocation checklist.
What Is Data Center Relocation?
Before diving into the details of a data center relocation checklist, let's go over the basics of data center relocations.
A data center relocation, sometimes also called a data center migration, is the process of moving infrastructure and/or workloads hosted in one data center to a different facility.
Data center relocations typically happen in situations where businesses find themselves with the right infrastructure and workloads but the wrong data center. The facility currently hosting their workloads may cost too much, fail to deliver the necessary levels of reliability, or be located in a region far from users, leading to high latency.
If your data center location is a problem but your servers and applications are not, relocating to another data center is typically the most effective and simplest way to improve outcomes.
A Checklist for Data Center Relocation
Again, actually can be a complicated affair. Although it may seem as simple as packing up your infrastructure, shipping it to a new facility, and redeploying it there, data center migration is rarely so simple.
The main reason why is that no two data centers are identical. As a result, the configurations that are ideal for your infrastructure and workloads in one data center may need to change when you relocate to a new data center.
To ensure that you think through all the potential variables and address them ahead of time, consider the following checklist of critical factors in data center relocation.
1. Asset inventory
Your relocation project should start with the creation of an inventory of existing assets in your data center. You can't migrate reliably until you know exactly what you're migrating.
Your inventory should include infrastructure (such as servers and routers) as well as applications that run on top of it. In most relocation scenarios, you'll need to migrate both types of assets.
Also critical is documenting your data center relocation plans, as well as your progress once it is underway. Ensure that all relevant stakeholders have access to the documentation and that the documentation is thorough enough to explain everything that is happening.
Documentation is important not just because creating it helps your team think through the relocation process, but also because you don't want to be in the position of relying on any individual personnel for critical insight about what's happening during the relocation process.
3. Asset backup
Before even thinking about beginning the data center relocation process, be sure to back up as many of your assets as possible. Backups should include, at a minimum, copies of all mission-critical data that will be relocated.
Where feasible, you should also back up applications and servers by, for example, taking images of your file systems prior to migration. Even if you don't use images as the basis for workload redeployment in the new data center, having images on hand will allow you to recover workloads and hosting environments quickly if something goes wrong during the migration.
4. Downtime planning
Will your data center relocation require workload downtime? If you're going to move physical servers from one data center to another, it probably will, unless you can spin up a temporary hosting environment elsewhere while you perform the relocation.
Make sure that you plan for any downtime, and notify users of it, as part of your checklist.
5. Infrastructure replacement or upgrades
Although infrastructure upgrades aren't an intrinsic part of data center relocation, a relocation is a great time to upgrade or replace any servers or other equipment. You don't want to migrate infrastructure to a new data center only to find that you have to replace it once it's there.
6. Infrastructure migration
Infrastructure migration is the process of moving physical infrastructure assets to the new data center. A plan for migrating those resources to the new facility is a core component of any data center relocation checklist.
7. Workload migration
Similarly, your checklist should include plans for moving workloads. The best approach here will vary depending on the workloads you are dealing with, but it could include methods like image-based backup and redeployment or the reinstallation and deployment of applications from scratch.
8. Post-migration reconfiguration
After relocation to the new data center is complete, it's time to reconfigure networking, storage, power systems, and any other resources that your infrastructure and workloads depend on. Again, the ideal settings in the new location may differ from those in the original one, so you'll want to review your requirements carefully and create new configurations accordingly.
Before making your relocated resources available to end users, test them to ensure they behave as required.
10. Switching to production
If the tests pass, you'll need to transition to making the new data center your production environment. This could be as simple as changing networking traffic policies so that requests are routed to the new data center, but it may also involve modifying IP addresses, URLs, or any other routing data that is hard-coded into applications or infrastructure.
Every data center relocation is unique, of course, and there's no such thing as a one-size-fits-all checklist for managing relocations. But teams should pay attention to the items outlined above to ensure they don't overlook any critical considerations when they move from one data center to another.