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A Complete Data Center Migration Checklist

Whether you’re moving your networking equipment to a new location or you’re shutting down a data center for good, it’s important to follow a data center migration checklist.

We’ve put together this data center migration checklist to mitigate risk but to also help you streamline the migration process. That way, you can get your equipment up and running as soon as possible.

What is a data center migration?

A man holding a laptop and configuring recently migrated data center equipment.

Also called data center relocation, a data center migration involves moving assets from one data center to another. It involves migrating the entire data center to a completely new environment.

This is different from say application migration, which means you’re simply moving applications from one environment to another. It’s also different from data migration, which involves moving data sets from one storage system to another. Only a data center migration involves moving actual hardware and equipment. The other two forms of migration simply involve moving data between devices.

Data center migrations happen for a number of reasons, but there are three common ones.

Reasons Most Companies Migrate Data Centers

Why would you migrate data centers? In some cases, it’s a matter of outgrowing the space you are in. As your company grows, you’ll likely find yourself needing more space, requiring a complete migration.

You may also need to migrate if you’re downsizing and no longer need as much hardware.

Oftentimes, companies will opt to migrate to a new data center when it’s time to upgrade equipment as well. Since the old equipment will need to be removed and the new equipment will need to be set up, it’s a good opportunity to update your old equipment with newer, more capable hardware.

There are also situations where migrating to a new data center can cut costs — cheaper lease, more power efficient, etc. If you can save money by switching data centers, it may be worth the investment.

Before getting into the data center migration due diligence checklist, let’s evaluate these three reasons for migrating to a new data center in greater detail.

You’re Replacing Your Equipment

Technological innovations never sit still. And with networking hardware constantly evolving, there’s always an opportunity to replace your existing equipment with better equipment.

Every business must be agile and ready to compete, and purchasing hardware that performs better than your current hardware is one way to do that. Maybe your current hardware is simply out of date and difficult to maintain or perhaps it’s unable to keep up with your networking needs. Whatever your reasons, a data center migration testing checklist is vital for moving everything seamlessly.

Replacing equipment doesn’t require that you buy all brand new equipment either. For companies that don’t need the latest and greatest hardware, there’s another option.

When companies buy brand new equipment, they often sell their existing equipment to experienced networking vendors, like us. And this gives businesses the opportunity to buy it at a significantly reduced price. For companies relying on equipment that’s one generation behind the current generation, buying used equipment is a great way to get more up-to-date hardware without breaking the bank.

You’re Growing and Need More Space

Growth is a good thing for any business. However, with success also comes hurdles that must be overcome. For data centers, one of those hurdles is the need for more space.

For companies offering networking services, growth requires more equipment. And more equipment requires more space. This is the case if you’re hiring new employees too, as more people also requires more space. Ideally, once you’ve migrated to a new, more spacious data center, you’ll be set for the foreseeable future. Just be sure to consider your growth rate when deciding on a new space.

You’re Looking to Cut Costs

Cost is a huge factor when determining your data center needs, and location affects the bottom line. In some cases, the cost of having an on-site data center is worth it to keep the IT assets close at hand. But if your office is in a city or an area where the cost of living is high, the lease will reflect that cost as well.

In addition to the physical location of a facility and what the lease rates are in that particular location, you must keep several other factors in mind when choosing a data center facility. While you know that the equipment will need to be paid for, you must also factor in the power, heating and cooling needs.

Additionally, the level of security needed also plays a factor in the cost you are looking at. If it’s time to cut costs, you might be ready to move your data center to a new location, perhaps even entirely off-site.

Data Center Migration Project Checklist

A man configured recently migrated data center equipment.

Whether you are expanding your company and plan to move your networking equipment to the new location or you need a data center shutdown checklist, many of the steps remain the same.

The points below will give you an idea of some of the best practices for a data center migration:

  • Creating a budget is the first step of any migration
  • Establishing a timeline is another key step that will help the migration on track.
  • It’s also important to backup all data, so nothing gets lost in the process.
  • And when you’re moving to a new location, you also need to log it for security purposes.
  • You should also check with your insurance company to make sure you have the right coverage.

That should give you an idea of what to include on your checklist, but we dive into each of those items — and more — on this page. Something else to consider is hiring movers that specialize in moving networking equipment to ensure you don’t damage or break any equipment in the process.

Additionally, don’t forget to think about your clients. They should be aware of the downtime they could experience. Now, let’s take a look at every item to include on your data center migration checklist.

Create a Migration Budget

In your data center co-location migration checklist, you are going to find a lot more expenses than someone following a data center migration lift and shift checklist. Moving data to the cloud or changing software is a much more seamless operation than relocating physical hardware.

That’s why it’s important for your team to start by figuring out the overall cost for the migration upfront. That will involve gathering and creating a detailed list of all expenses. That way, before the project even begins, you can review all the costs and see if there’s any way to reduce the overall cost.

One other thing to consider when estimating costs: prepare for emergencies. You don’t want to set aside just enough to get the job done without accounting for unanticipated expenses.

Establish a Timeline for the Migration

When you’re migrating from one data center, your checklist should also include specific milestones and goals to reference along the way. Moving your data center is not an easy task and shouldn’t be taken lightly. It’s not as simple as unplugging some servers and driving them to a new location.

Your team should put together a detailed plan that includes a timeframe for each step. There should also be a check in at each milestone to ensure the plan is still on track.

One small setback can change the entire timeline, causing a disruption in work and service to your customers, which is why communication is so critical while working through the migration steps.

Complete Any Data Replication/Backup in Advance

One of the worst things that can happen while working through your data center migration security checklist is data loss. Managing and backing up data must be a top priority during the migration.

First, you must consider what data you’ll need access to during the move. Once the equipment is down, you won’t have easy access to that information, so make sure you’re prepared for that.

Secondly, you must put a game plan into effect to protect the data from getting lost or damaged in transit. Having a fresh backup will be critical to your migration’s success.

In some cases, you may even need to create a temporary parallel environment. If you need to replicate the network and keep it running during the migration, be sure it’s planned out in advance.

Log Every Piece of Equipment You’re Moving

You’re not simply moving your local area network. You’re moving an entire data center comprising potentially hundreds of pieces of hardware, each of which is worth tens of thousands of dollars, or more.

Before any piece of equipment leaves your location, it should be properly cataloged and accounted for. One way to do that is to take pictures of each piece and record the serial numbers digitally.

Additionally, don’t underestimate the value of documenting all of the smaller hardware making the move. You should also list all power cords, cables, drives and fuses that are being transported.

Misplacing the wrong part, big or small, could have severe consequences for the entire network.

Procure Networking Services in Advance

Don’t simply assume that your internet service will be ready to go when you are. In some cases, starting a new agreement can take weeks. And while you may not want to pay for two services at the same time, the cost of not having Internet at all could cost you far more in the long run.

Hire Networking Hardware Moving Specialists

If the migration means moving fragile networking hardware, you may want to consider hiring movers who specialize in moving valuable networking hardware. Instead of relying on employees to pack everything up and move it, hire a team of experts to dismantle and transport the equipment for you.

This professional group can even reinstall the equipment, saving you the headache of doing it.

Double Check Your Insurance Policy

Migrating data centers is also the perfect time to review your business insurance policy. If your insurance policy doesn’t cover equipment once it’s offsite (no longer on the property where the policy applies), it’s time to get it. It’s important all your hardware is covered, just in case something should go wrong.

Once the insurance policy is updated, it’s always wise to have a third-party adjuster take a look at it. They can double-check for loopholes that might prevent you from successfully filing a claim.

Be Prepared for Setting Up at the New Location

A lot of your data center migration checklist is focused on what happens before the move, but you don’t want to neglect what occurs once it’s over either. In fact, if you have the available manpower, you can even have one team preparing the old location while another one sets up at the new one.

Notify Clients About Any Downtime

Even if you make the transition seamlessly, you still want to let your customers know about the data center migration. They deserve to know if there could be potential hiccups or interferences.

Send a note to your customers specifying the time and dates of the migration. Assure them that you will do everything within your power to ensure they aren’t inconvenienced during the process.

Additionally, if you run into any issues during your migration that will affect customers, you’ll want to touch base with them as soon as possible. In situations like this, honesty is always the best policy.

Buy or Sell Used Networking Equipment in Preparation for Your Data Center Migration

If you’re planning on migrating your data center and you’re thinking about replacing your existing networking hardware, you’ll want to make sure you work with an experienced and qualified networking vendor that offers great prices on used networking equipment.

At BrightStar Systems, we specialize in used Juniper, Arista and Cisco networking hardware. Our team has a combined 45+ years of experience. We currently have more than 1,400 customers across 50 countries.

All our hardware is tested when it arrives and is backed by our 1-Year In-House Warranty. Plus, we ensure your shipments arrive in secure packaging to protect against any damage.

Don’t forget to talk to us about selling us your used networking equipment when you migrate. We can even arrange shipments to our facility. Contact us to get started today.