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Data Center Migration Challenges


When the time comes to move a data center to a new location, you must overcome some tough data center migration challenges. From having to travel a long distance to dealing with extreme temperatures, the process may not go as smoothly as you hope it will. However, knowing what data migration challenges you can expect can help make you better prepared for what’s to come.

On this page, we discuss some of the challenges you’ll likely face during data center migration and identify factors to consider in order to help you limit the number of challenges you must overcome.

Physical vs Virtual Data Center Migration

There are two main types of data center migrations.

The first is physically migrating networking equipment to another location.

The second is virtually moving a data center from one cloud service provider to another.

That being said, hybrid solutions — having some physical networking hardware onsite while also leveraging a cloud networking provider — are common, and require migrating hardware and data.

For this post, we are solely focused on data center migration challenges associated with physically moving equipment from one location to another. Keep reading to learn more.

Factors That Increase Data Center Migration Risks

As you make your way through this list of data center migration project risks, you’ll learn that there are factors you’ll have to contend with that might be beyond your control. Whether you need to perform the migration during hot weather, move old and fragile equipment or travel hundreds of miles, these factors can start to add up, making a data center migration project particularly difficult.

Migrating in Extreme Temperatures

The ideal temperature in a server room is between 68 and 71 degrees Fahrenheit. And while you may do a great job of keeping your networking equipment between these two temperatures during operation, you have much less control over the temperature outside while performing a migration.

In addition to the temperature, you can’t plan too much ahead when it comes to weather events. Unless your dates are flexible, you might have to move equipment during rain or snowstorms, which puts your expensive supplies at risk and adds yet another challenge to a data center migration project.

However, if you have some flexibility over the migration dates, you can choose a time of the year when weather extremes are less likely. Pick a time with mild weather and fewer extreme weather occurrences.

Moving Old or Fragile Equipment

During a data center moving project, you may also have to deal with equipment that’s either old or fragile. But if you aren’t experienced in handling fragile networking equipment, you could end up damaging your hardware in the process of moving it. And while all networking equipment — to an extent — is fragile, older equipment that’s not been moved in a long time can be particularly fragile.

Traveling a Long Distance

A data center consolidation and migration project where you’re swapping out old equipment for new equipment at a new location is very different from having to transport equipment to a new location — especially if that new location is in a different city, state, or country.

For one, The further your destination, the more steps there are to get the equipment where it needs to go. Not only that, but a longer travel time equals more time for something to go wrong. That’s why it’s important to take every possible precaution when it comes to preparing equipment for migration.

Packing networking equipment to ensure it’s safe and secure is an extremely tedious process (there’s a reason there are companies that specialize in moving networking equipment). So if you’re doing it yourself, be sure to do it by the book and take every possible precaution. In addition, if you know someone who’s undertaken a migration, ask them for packing tips and pointers.

Biggest Challenges in Data Center Migration Projects

No matter the circumstances that are out of your control, there are some challenges you can control. Limiting downtime, transferring data, protecting equipment, maintaining network speed, and keeping track of equipment are some of the top data center challenges. With a little bit of planning, you can reduce data center migration project headaches. Keep reading to find out how.

Limiting Downtime

When your networking equipment is being moved, there will likely be outages and reduced connectivity. Downtime will undoubtedly displease some customers or employees if it’s an internal network. And, even worse, downtime can result in lost revenue you might not have planned for.

However, there are ways to prevent these problems from occurring.

First, you need to let customers or employees know when the migration is happening, so they can be prepared. Second, you can perform the migration in phases — i.e. kick off smaller groups of users at one time — to limit frustration. And finally, have a temporary networking solution in case something goes.

Transferring Data

One of the most important things to do prior to a data center migration is to have all data backed up. It’s also important to double-check your backup right before the migration begins. On top of that, consider backing up all your data to a cloud, just as another backup solution.

Sadly, many companies deal with incomplete, missing, or corrupt files when attempting to restore the network. But being prepared to deal with the data migration helps reduce downtime and ensure a smooth transition — not to mention a much less stressful transition.

Keeping Equipment From Getting Damaged

Networking equipment must be handled and packed carefully to avoid damage. If you aren’t versed in the proper ways to do it, you could easily end up making some very costly mistakes.

So don’t skimp on packing materials; the cost of damaging an expensive piece of hardware will significantly outweigh the cost of purchasing premium packing materials that can absorb forceful blows.

And if you’re not comfortable handling the equipment internally, you can always outsource the packing process to a mover that specializes in networking hardware. Again, this may increase the overall cost of the migration, but it’s likely more cost effective than replacing damaged equipment after the fact.

Not Losing Any Equipment

It’s equally important to properly log all equipment — not just the big pieces — before the migration.

Your log should also include any supporting hardware — cables, power supplies, transceivers, etc. — as small pieces of equipment are extremely easy to misplace.

For each piece of hardware, consider including the following information:

  • Product name
  • Product serial number
  • Person that’s responsible for it
  • Loaded (Yes/No)
  • Unloaded (Yes/No)

Loaded and unloaded should work like checkboxes: when the networking equipment is packed and ready to go, be sure to mark it as “loaded” in the log. Once it arrives at the new location, it should be marked as “unloaded,” at which time the serial number be verified.

Even if you work with a professional moving company, you should still have some sort of paper trail of all of the equipment. After all, networking equipment is expensive and even small parts can be costly to replace. Not only that, but missing parts could also result in extended periods of downtime.

While an equipment log isn’t a blueprint for how to set up the equipment at the new location, it should be organized in a way that will make it easy to track individual pieces of equipment that belong to the same group — e.g. line cards and their respective modular chassis. A thorough and organized log will not only ensure you don’t lose any equipment; it will make the setup process much easier as well.

Maintaining Speed and Uptime

Uptime and speed must both be considered as part of the risk management of data center migrations. No matter what kind of services your data center is responsible for providing, your customers’ experience must be considered as part of the data center migration.

Extended periods of downtime or slower-than-anticipated speeds will quickly hurt your credibility.

Not only will it disappoint customers; it will also frustrate any team members on the customer service side who have to talk to them. It’s very easy to ruin your brand’s reputation if you aren’t careful.

To maintain speed and keep uptime to a maximum, test the network before you start the migration to give yourself a chance to troubleshoot any issues that come up before they affect customers.

Tips for a Successful Data Center Migration


Even if you’ve never taken on a data center migration project, you can effectively navigate these data center migration challenges. All it takes is a little planning. Among the top steps you should take, it’s essential to evaluate your risks, develop a checklist and consider partnering with an expert mover.

Get a Data Center Migration Risk Assessment Done

With a data center migration risk analysis, you can reduce the high stakes involved with moving your equipment to a new location. It’s important to conduct the risk assessment before the migration is ever even initiated, so you can work through any issues in advance.

A good risk assessment is going to look at several factors, such as:

  • Method of travel options (freight versus flight, etc.).
  • Packing material recommendations.
  • Potential moving partners.

A good risk assessment company understands that looking at both the technical risks — i.e. packing materials — and the functional — method of travel — risks is essential. Once you know what the risks are, you can develop a strategy to prevent them. With these plans in place, the data center relocation should occur smoother and more efficiently and with no surprises. A little planning goes a long way.

Develop a Migration Checklist

Careful planning ahead of a data center migration can make all the difference when it comes time to execute. And like any other complex project, a checklist is an excellent tool to keep things organized. Not only that, but developing a checklist is an opportunity to make sure you’re not missing anything well ahead of the project officially kicking off and giving you time to add those items to the list.

And when you’re developing your migration checklist, get other team members involved; gather input from everyone who will be heavily involved to make sure you’re not missing anything. We’ve developed a detailed data center migration checklist that includes every single item to include on your list.

Partner With a Network Migration Moving Company

As part of data center migration risk management, you may choose to hire a company that can help you. If you aren’t sure your team can tackle the migration, this small expense will pay for itself in the form of very few — if any — damaged or broken pieces of networking equipment.

If you don’t transport your hardware safely and securely, you may arrive at the new location with a lot of damaged equipment, and even the smallest piece of equipment can be expensive to replace.

Partnering with a third-party contractor can help alleviate concerns about damaging equipment during the migration. Not only that, but with a third party handling the packaging, inventory, and transportation, you are free to focus on other aspects of the migration.

However, don’t ever hire the first company you find; take your time to ensure the services meet your needs. You’ll want to be sure you interview several companies to determine who to work with.

Replacing Equipment or Selling Equipment? BrightStar Systems Can Help

Sometimes, in the process of migrating a data center, you’ll find that some of your equipment needs to be replaced. BrightStar Systems can help you replace your existing equipment with some of the lowest prices around. And because we buy in bulk, you can enjoy substantial savings on pre-owned hardware from some of the most reputable companies in the industry, including Cisco, Juniper, and Arista.

Our team of specialists will work with you to determine which specific pieces of equipment you need to replace — or upgrade — based on how your existing equipment is performing. We stock all the networking equipment you need, from routers and switches to cables and optical transceivers. Not only that, but every device we sell is backed by BrightStar System’ In-house 1-year Warranty.

And if you are planning to upgrade or downsize, BrightStar Systems will also purchase your existing networking equipment. We can provide top dollar for used hardware, and we cover the shipping costs. You don’t even need to worry about testing it before sending it to us; we’ll do that too.

Whether you’re looking to replace existing networking equipment or downsize and sell some of your outdated equipment. BrightStar Systems can help. Contact us today for a free quote.