Data centers are here to stay. In fact, there will be a radical shift in data networking experience and colocation migration will be the new norm.
A colocation data center, often referred to as a colo, is any large DC facility that rents out rack space to third parties for their servers or other network equipment. The hardware is usually owned by the companies themselves and is simply housed and sometimes maintained by the DC staff.
But why are enterprises migrating to colocation DC? Covid-19 pandemic has forced many organizations to acclimate with ‘work from home’ concept. Even though many are implementing plans to help employees’ safe return to the workplace, there are others who are looking at downsizing their office space and continuing remote working provision. Naturally, with limited office space, accommodating on-premises DC will not be possible. Keeping the feasibility of space and cost in mind, organizations are opting for colocation DC.
To have a successful colocation DC functioning, organizations need to know seven successful DC migration steps. Insufficient attention to these steps may negatively impact the possible benefits of relocating to a colocation DC. This is helpful to CIOs, data center managers, IT managers and facilities managers among others involved in the process of DC migration.
# Requirements and Planning
The first step for a colocation migration is to discuss the company’s IT requirement with relevant team members. Once the team is on board, they need to review certain topics like site location, network architecture, scale projections, technical specifications for Request for Information (RFI) and communication plan. Shortcutting on this initial phase of the migration may lead to project changes at a later stage, adding cost and delaying the completion of setting up space. It is best practice to appoint a migration manager, who can operate through departments, monitor progress and ensure the success of the initiative.
# Asset and Application Inventory
Companies should be able to prioritize three DC inventory concern – the reason for migration, budget and timeline, and the successful outcomes after the migration is completed. Companies must first determine if the asset inventory will be completed manually or through a suitable DCIM software with asset management function. They need to invest in automating the colocation inventory to be able to track the IT asset. While bringing inventory into DC is one part of the migration, deploying them to take advantage of DC’s connectivity, assessing network requirements and exploration of hybrid and multi-cloud deployment options is one of the most important phases of data center relocation.
# Setting Framework and Releasing RFP
Once the framework and expectations of migration planning have been identified a request for proposal (RFP) needs to be created to be sent to the colocation DC. The RFP offers vendors the relevant solution’s economical, performance, service and architectural demands. To address the present and future DC requirements certain categories that need to be considered are – location, tier level, space, power density, voltage, bandwidth type, redundant power, carrier or cloud preferences, internet or cloud connection bandwidth, security and compliance, standards, remote hands, 24/7 building access and response time.
# Planning of New Infrastructure
Companies need to evaluate the floor space of the colocation DC to understand and plan the placement of equipment. They also need to examine the network architecture of the DC that includes spine-leaf architecture, software-defined storage (SDS) and transitioning from a middle-of-row topology back to a top-of-rack design to support scalability. Link design also needs to be considered to determine the cost matrix. Cable pathways and cable management is also of importance where DCs have fiber raceway, cable management or smart networks.
After developing a concept, the day-to-day schedule needs to be created for the migration team. Companies need to make sure employees and contractors have direct access to the hosted site and they should also consider moving a phased project to minimize the effect on vital resources and applications. To overcome space-related restrictions one needs to examine – installation directions, link lengths, tick-off lists, pre-migration installations and configurations, speed tests, access, paths and rooms, and logistics.
# Actual Migration
Once the migration plan is set the companies need to keep many aspects of migration in their mind – logistic risks, clear responsibilities and decisions, asset tracking, copy and configuration and sign off. Plan B must be in place to recover from any problem that may arise in any of these aspects of migration.
After all the hardware, software and data are migrated, new normal of managing the company’s data center network within the colocation data center needs to begin. Operations need to revert to the pre-migration state meaning the following must be considered even post-migration – testing, adopting DCIM, power monitoring, auditing, a troubleshooting procedure, emergency notifications, cleaning up, remote hands, expansion strategy and management of the life cycle.
These seven steps, if followed, will help in a successful colocation DC migration. Working with an accomplished partner to help through the seven steps is one strategy to increase the likelihood of success.