Ben Hatton Keys to Migrating Your Business Data to a new Data Center

July 18, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Data migration

Before you migrate any of your data, please plan accordingly. (Image courtesy of AHA-Soft)

In a recent blog post I covered a few methods for making a data center migration go as smoothly as possible (you can check out the “Keys to a Successful Data Center Migration” post here). While that post focused on the physical equipment side of a migration, now I’d like to take it a step further, and look at the migration of the actual data. Your data is ultimately the reason for performing a data center migration in the first place, and there are many considerations and challenges to keep in mind when performing a data migration to a new location. But with proper planning, you can migrate your data as well as your equipment with minimal headache.

Here are some guidelines to help get you started!

Create backups! (and be smart with them)

Whenever you are migrating any amount of data as part of a data center migration, it is absolutely crucial that you create backups of all the data being moved. This allows you to mitigate any data loss that can potentially occur in the event of a hardware failure or unforeseen software issue during the migration. When it comes to actually creating and working with your backups, here are a few pointers:

  1. Make sure that they are as current as possible, so you won’t be forced to work with out of date data if you have to restore to a backup.
  2. Have a  plan in place for how you will actually perform a restore from your backups at the new location, should any issues arise. Having backups is good, but they don’t count for very much if you aren’t able to efficiently restore your data from them.
  3. Speaking of efficiency, aim to have your backups at the new location well in advance of the migration. Doing this will ensure that they are readily on hand and available, if and when you need them.

Communicate effectively with all parties

It is very important to communicate with your connectivity provider(s), as well as any vendors or companies you have a service level agreement with, well in advance of your data center migration. While they may not necessarily play a part in the actual migration, at the very least you should make them aware that a migration is taking place, when it’s taking place, and where your new data center is located. This way, they will be able to respond more quickly and accurately (ie. at the right location) should any issues arise.

Test and refine

Once you have created your data migration plan, you will want to test each step of the plan thoroughly. In addition to the actual migration plan you create, there are some things you can consider that will help ensure that you test in a way that’s as realistic as possible to how your actual migration will be handled. Here are a few tips:

  1. An effective way to test your actual data for a migration is to create a copy of it that will specifically be used for testing (this is commonly referred to as “splitting off a copy”). This allows you to test the migration of your actual business data in a real-world scenario, without the risk of losing that data if an issue arises.
  2. In addition to using a copy of your real data, your test migration should also heavily involve the actual data center location you are moving to. You can do this by isolating a “testing” location within your new data center, and using that as your test migration site; it should ideally be a fully isolated space, yet fully functional.

By making both these data and physical elements of your migration as realistic as possible, you can create a “true to life” testing scenario that will help you to more easily identify potential issues or risks before the real migration takes place.

Conclusion

Migrating your data center (and your business data along with it) is no simple task, but with a bit of proper planning and legwork up front you can ensure that your migration is a successful one. I hope that these pointers will be helpful for you if this is something you will soon be involved with!

For even more information on planning for a data center migration, check out these additional resources:

“Keys to a Successful Data Center Migration” blog post

“Data Center Relocation 101” whitepaper

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