Friday, August 24, 2007

Plan Your Data Center Move (Part 2 of 2)

A successful data center relocation starts with a good plan. By placing emphasis on pre-design and planning, you can achieve an optimal solution to meet the demands of your data center move. Here are some key points to address when developing your own data center relocation strategy:

What equipment really needs to move?

An equipment migration is the perfect time to make network and network security improvements, phase out old server and storage platforms, and undertake a virtualization project to minimize the number of servers.

Is the new site’s support infrastructure prepared to accept the new load?

Is there enough UPS, cooling, power distribution, floor weight capacity, etc.? Is the data cabling strategy the same or will you be making changes? It’s helpful to retain a computer room design consultant to verify the load capacity and redundancy constraints of the new site. If working with a pre-existing space, the new computer room should be re-commissioned.

Establish corporate buy-in.

Clearly communicate the timeline of the project with everyone in the company – management and employees alike.

Identify, mark, tag, and document everything – twice!

Every piece of equipment from subfloor to ceiling – be it a cabinet, rack, power cable, power strip, patch cable, data cable, bracket, nut, or bolt – needs to be accounted for using a numbering convention that will ensure everything goes back together exactly as it came apart.

Develop a schedule with enough time built in for contingencies.

Allow yourself a sufficient margin of error in case there’s a hold-up at some point during the process. Build extra time in at the end of the data center relocation schedule and don’t try to do too much at one time.

For more advice on data center migration, check out "Tips For Moving Your Data Center" at

Monday, August 20, 2007

Plan Your Data Center Move (Part 1 of 2)

In my post “Tips for Handling Your Data Center Relocation,” I discussed some basic strategies for streamlining a data center move. Since then, I’ve received a few requests for more insight into handling the data center relocation process. In this post I’ll address whether it’s necessary to call in the pros and how to pick a data center moving company.

While in some cases the in-house team can handle the move themselves, most enterprises need a little extra help. I liken it to attempting a plumbing project on your own. The tools you need to do the job most effectively are so specialized and you rarely have them – in most situations, it would take you three times the amount of effort to do the job versus the professional. With a data center relocation project, having the right packing materials, rigging equipment, trucks, and so forth are all necessary for a job well done.

Here’s an overview of how to find and hire a company to help with the data center relocation process:

Step 1: Finding a data center moving company.

Nearly every area has a company that specializes in relocating computer equipment. They can be found in the Yellow Pages, via an online search, or by asking for referrals from colleagues. The hard part is making sure you’ve found a qualified company that specializes in data center moves. Checking references is vitally important. A general rule of thumb I’ve seen people use is “The bigger the companies they work for, the better the moving company is,” but this isn’t always the case.

Step 2: Checking qualifications.

When lost or damaged equipment can mean downtime and escalating costs, the need to choose carefully is clear. The most important thing to look for is experience. How many years has the data center relocation company been in business? What’s the combined experience of their team? Have they worked on projects of similar scale to your own?

Ask specific questions to make sure they perform these services on a regular basis. What are the company’s best practices and proven methodologies? What resources and support does the company offer? How would they coordinate all aspects of the move from start to finish?

Remember that the moving company is only one part of the integrated team for an effective relocation. Be sure to involve key stakeholders in the process, including your IT, business and facilities staff as well as third-party vendors. The project team should include:

  • your internal IT and facilities staff,
  • an overall project manager (internal or external),
  • an IT services company to assist in the marking, tagging, un-cabling, un-racking, re-racking, and re-cabling of all IT infrastructure
  • a computer room design firm to verify the power and cooling capacity on the other side.

For a more detailed guide to hiring a firm, download my white paper, “Tips for Hiring a Data Center Consultant.”

(Next post: Establishing an overall plan for your data center move…)