Over the years, we have been asked to help our customers physically move all or parts of their IT Infrastructure. Some of these moves were within the same building, some across the street or campus, and others across the country. The move could be between on-premise data centers or it could be from an on-premise data center to a co-location facility. Truth is, in today’s Cloud-minded world, we are now being asked to move all or part of an IT Infrastructure from on-premise or co-location facilities to the Cloud. In all cases we can help. However, the focus of this post is about moving your physical infrastructure from one location to another. Consider this post a “lessons learned” from our experiences and those of our clients.
Reasons for performing a physical move are many. Perhaps your company is relocating to another building, you have outgrown your current data center, or perhaps you have consolidated and no longer need the space you once did. Whatever the reason, moving your physical IT Infrastructure deserves a lot of planning and preparation before the first wire tie is cut or the first network cable is unplugged. All too often, we find far too little time put into the planning phase and this can lead to a much longer maintenance window then expected at best or a complete catastrophe at worst.
We like to start by taking an inventory of the equipment to be moved. If you already have an inventory, it is worthwhile to check your inventory against what’s actually in the rack(s). Equipment gets changed over the years and the changes aren’t always documented. The inventory should include description, model, serial number, dimensions, and weight. The dimensions and weight are used when requesting proposals from moving companies.
For each piece of equipment in the inventory, it is important to understand what support and/or warranty is active. Does the manufacturer require a move certification process to maintain the warranty or support? What information will the manufacturer require to document the equipment’s new location? Contacting the manufacturers and moving companies early in the planning stage will avoid missed deadlines and unsupported equipment.
You may also want to capture power and cooling specifications for each piece of equipment on the inventory. Whether you are moving to your own facility or to a co-location facility, understanding the power and cooling requirements is essential. For companies moving to their own facilities, it will be extremely important to get the power and cooling requirements calculated and communicated to the HVAC engineers and Electricians early in the process.
After you collect the basic information, create or review a current logical diagram of the infrastructure so you can visualize how equipment is connected. Use this diagram as a basis to document IP Addressing, Application dependencies, etc. The information documented in this step will be essential to developing the shutdown and startup processes. This information will help you foresee areas where you may have trouble integrating into the new location.
Using the inventory and logical diagram for your existing environment, you can develop a diagram for what your destination should look like. This is also the point at which you should contact your internet service providers, phone providers, cable installers and the facilities and networking teams for the co-location facilities. Again, contacting these services providers early in the process is critical to a successful move. Internet providers alone could require anywhere from 30 to 90 days to switch your service.
While these beginning steps may all sound obvious, they are not always given the time and attention they deserve. Trust me, being attentive to the details at this stage will be time well spent. Your chances of a successful, less stressful move will be greatly improved by careful preparation.
So, you’ve documented what you have and you’ve notified the appropriate services providers, while you’re waiting on their responses, it’s time to start building the plan. As you engage with each of the services providers your plan may need modification, but, that shouldn’t stop you from getting started.
First, using the inventory and logical drawings produced in the beginning, you should build a diagram for how equipment will be laid out in the new rack(s). This will expedite the unpacking and installation after your equipment is delivered to the new location. With a clear diagram for what gets installed and where, you won’t need to figure that out the day of the move.
While the time estimates may not be exact, they are important here as they can provide early indications of whether you are ahead of or behind schedule.
I know, this seems like a lot of work. But all the preparation will reduce your stress overall and, most importantly, will get your systems back into Production sooner and with less disruption.
Download our Data Center Moving Checklist for your next move!