How to Reduce Data Center Migration Downtime

Data center migration can deliver important cost, efficiency and business benefits. However, it can also be high-risk project, particularly when the IT team is migrating mission-critical data or services.

IT teams now have smaller windows for the inevitable downtime needed for migration, so it is essential to reduce project timescales. The challenges of real-time processes, competitive pressures, global follow-the-sun operations and stringent service level agreements leave teams little opportunity to take systems off-line.

Downtime is a Major Challenge

Weekend and evening migrations offer possible opportunities, but they also increase project cost. Reducing downtime is therefore a priority. In a recent VTG survey of data center professionals, respondents identified allocating downtime to migration as their biggest challenge, followed by speed of migration.

In our experience, successful data center migration projects depend on careful planning, best practice and the use of automation tools. The right process can deliver improved return on investment, reduced downtime and higher availability over the migration period.

We recommend that migrations incorporate a number of essential stages:

  • Collect information about the source and target
  • Complete initial scoping
  • Identify migration methodologies
  • Create a migration plan for each server and storage device
  • Identify problems to be fixed
  • Test the migration method
  • Create a wavelist for the migration
  • Automate processes to eliminate the risk of human error
  • Migrate servers to the new environment
  • Carry out a health check on each migrated server

Use Specialist Tools

This may seem like a lengthy process, but specialist tools that manage and monitor the project can cut lead times. VTG’s automation tool ZENfraTM, for example, integrates initial assessment, development of a strategic migration plan and pre-migration to ensure a successful end-to-end transition.

Many teams have made further savings by supplementing their internal resources and using migration specialists to handle some or all of the project. As a result, IT teams have reported reductions in migration times of 30 to 40 percent compared to traditional in-house methods.

Phased migration can reduce the impact of migration on users and open opportunities to minimize downtime at each of the four main stages – discovery and feasibility, design and architect, implementation, and production.

At the discovery stage, for example, tools like ZENfraTM save time by automating the collection of data from log files. No other resources are needed to collect information and the automated process also reduces the risk of human error.

Work with Specialist Partners

Working with a migration specialist can reduce the time needed to complete a project, as well as freeing internal teams to concentrate on more strategic tasks. Data center migrations are time-consuming tasks that involve a large number of repetitive tasks.

Migration specialists have the skills, experience, tools and resources to complete the essential tasks quickly. That is the focus of their business and they carry out migrations for many different clients in all industry sectors.

Limit Migration Scope

Automating processes and working with specialist providers can make major reductions in downtime, but teams can also make smaller savings by limiting the scope of the migration.

One approach is to identify any applications or data that are no longer required or customizations that may be incompatible with the new data center environment. This can eliminate unnecessary migration time and reduce the risk of rework caused by compatibility problems.

It’s clear that data center migration can deliver essential cost, efficiency and performance benefits, but the project must not jeopardize ongoing levels of service to users. Minimizing downtime must be a priority in the migration plan.

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