12 Essentials of a Well-Managed Data Center Relocation

Physically moving a data center from one location to another can be a very daunting IT project!

For those not entirely familiar with the planning, the method and the logical order of this kind of transition, there truly are many moving parts involved and several parties with specific responsibilities, which almost always have to be met within a very tight timeline.

In addition to the skillset depth of your assigned project manager, your team can benefit from this short list of “12 Essentials” for having your data center move go smoothly.

1. Establishing a Realistic Timeline

The most important part of a data center relocation is to establish a realistic timeline for the move and then plan to coordinate the moving parts required to make the relocation successful up to your target completion date.

It’s a good idea to work with two different dates (including a contingency) at the beginning, which can be honed-in as both dates near, based on lead times received for certain tasks which would affect your planned move date.

These preparatory tasks could involve the time for a Co-Lo to add power, network modifications, backup windows, conflicting agendas, transport schedules, equipment failures during a test power down, etc.

Expect that the list of moving parts, in the relocation, will expand the closer your designated team nears your planned completion date.

2. Include Key Approvals in Your Plan & Process

If state boards, or other government approvals, are required in particular industries which regulate down-time, those considerations need to be worked in at the very beginning of the plan.

Exacting notification about the move should be carefully coordinated with the existing maintenance provider so they’re aware of the situation and also with any government or industry board, which requires notification – research with confirmation is always better than assumption.

All people/parties/agencies, with specific responsibilities during the move, should be involved with the planning and schedule.

 3. Assigned Tasks are Best Managed Like a “Critical” Project

The specific tasks for each person/team should be created with a reasonable completion date, compatible with the timeline and phased into the final plan.

Accountabilities should be made abundantly clear and it’s important for the project manager to be frequently checking the accountabilities status of each party, a few times and well before the assigned task completion date.

Tasks requiring more time should be prioritized, with last-minute tasks added near the end of the planning phase. Lead times should be confirmed, such as the lead time for power additions or any network equipment ordered.

4. Scheduled & Required Checkpoint Calls

Weekly or bi-weekly checkpoint calls should be clearly established so the scheduled “ready” date for the move can be met with zero surprises.

5. Never Assume & Forego the Site Audit as a Key First Step

Once the project plan is finalized, the very first task for a data center relocation would involve a detailed site audit of the existing site to determine: what is to be moved, its current location, how it is currently cabled, network connections used, power type, rack configurations and cabling diagrams.

As well: Are the drops above or below ground? Are these drops going to be the same at the new data center site or will power extensions be needed?

6. Ensure Facility Accessibility & Prepare for Limitations

Facility access should be understood and fully noted for the transport of the equipment to be moved – to see if there are any size restrictions or door frames/doors which will need to be removed prior to or during the move.

If the move falls on a weekend, building personnel will need to be notified so there is access in-and-out of the area, to eliminate the impact of surprise and unintended delays.

Emergency numbers for building management should be provided so they can be contacted quickly if there are issues getting in-or-out of the facility after hours.

All materials needed to get the equipment out of the facility should be meticulously noted during the site visit, so there are no unnecessary delays on the day of the move.

7.Know About & Plan for New Equipment Additions / Changes

If there are new equipment additions to the destination site, such as a new network switch or fabric network between the existing center and the new facility, those additions/changes should be configured (and thoroughly tested) at the new facility, well in advance of the move.

Doing so prevents network delays when the other equipment is moved and ultimately installed.

A diagram of the network cabling will need to be created and provided to the personnel responsible for re-installing the equipment and those for overseeing the project.

8. Don’t Underestimate Your Logistics Plan & Include Contingencies

If the equipment is being relocated a long distance, plans should be made to include traffic delays, truck issues and a back-up plan should be addressed if a significant delay could arise due to a mechanical failure and/or Act of God.

9. Importance of System Back-ups & Power Cycling

System backups should be scheduled along with a power cycle no less than 1 to 2 weeks prior to the move to make sure there are no issues once this equipment is powered down and later powered back up.

If there ARE issues, those should (and can) be easily fixed prior to the scheduled move date. These tasks should also be coordinated with the hardware maintenance service provider so they can have personnel and parts onsite and/or on standby.

 10.Double-Check Insurance Certificates & Personnel Access

Requirements for Insurance Certificates, as well as personnel access to and from both facilities, should be addressed, double-checked and 100% assured.

Believe it or not, personnel access tends to be the most common issue causing stress and unplanned delays.

11. Parts Readiness

Parts spares should also be on-site, at the new facility, should there be any system issues caused during the move or resulting from a power-down.

At the destination facility, remote access into the systems should be planned for so that any tests or required logical reconfiguration can be addressed, once the system is installed and powered up.

12. Rely ONLY on Qualified Engineers for Support During Power-Down & Power-Up

Finally, just prior to the move, a final backup should be done. Only truly qualified engineers should be at the moving site ready to de-install and power-down the equipment at the scheduled time. The same level of expertise is essential for power-up at the destination site. If they are contracted engineering staff, make sure that your vetting procedures for technical expertise are as thorough as possible.

Expect “bumps in the road!”

Whew! Once this equipment is up and running at the new facility, within the designated window allotted, you can pat yourself on the back for a job well done!

Top Gun delivers complete, end-to-end Data Center Relocation services, including consulting, project management, planning, secure transportation, de-install and reinstall services. Data Center Relocation services are designed for scalability that can flex to handle single device relocations to complex relocations and consolidations.

Blog Author Details

Donna Pizarro
Senior VP, Storage & Transition Services

Top Gun
Donna’s LinkedIn Profile