Data Center Relocation: What Should You Know?

Data Center Relocation can be a daunting and costly undertaking for any enterprise—but more and more businesses are considering relocation services as part of their overall optimization strategy. Yet, what is motivating companies to relocate their data center operations?

  • The evolution of Big Data
  • The explosive expansion of the Internet of Things (IoT)
  • The ever-increasing push toward virtualization certainly incentivize companies to consider relocation

Other Key Factors Driving Your Data Center Plans

Increased performance capabilities: Whether it’s the growing number of IoT devices, internal company growth, the surge in streaming applications, or increased server throughput, data centers must keep pace with faster data speeds which translates into more needed space to support the increased performance demands.

Conversely, businesses that move more of their data center operations to the Cloud may find that their data center’s current footprint is too large.

geoGeographical Proximity: The primary motivation for relocation is to move:

  • Data centers closer to client markets, and
  • Branches of an enterprise closer to other resources

The increasing frequency of natural disasters, inclement weather, and other security concerns also necessitate data center relocation project plans.

expensesReduction in Capital Expenses: While reductions in size or energy consumption undoubtedly influence a company’s need to moving their data center, several U.S. states are offering data center-specific tax breaks that incentivize major tech companies to expand/relocate into their states to grow markets.[1]

EnergyImproved Energy Efficiency: In 2012, The New York Times released a scathing review of data center energy practices, noting that data centers generally waste up to 90% of the energy they pull from the grid.[2] Much of this waste stems from the internal temperature regulator required for data center equipment to run optimally. Consequently, many companies are relocating their data centers to more hospitable climates that allow them to minimize energy consumption and environmental impact.

Challenges of Data Center Relocation and Migration Plan

Data Center Relocations invariably introduce challenges that are unique to specific data center infrastructure and location, but there are several common issues businesses often encounter:

preprationPreparation: The biggest challenge every company faces with data center relocation is planning. Planning and accounting for the voluminous workload and massive strain a Data Center Migration can put on equipment and system functionality are critical for a successful move.
Additionally, businesses should ensure that communication with application owners is established early to pinpoint the appropriate timetables for application Data Center Migration.
complexHidden complexity: Although a company may have an extensive IT staff, its employees may not have extensive experience with back-end equipment setup and maintenance. Data Center infrastructure equipment is extremely sensitive, and improper breakdowns, transportation, or storage can significantly impact its future performance and cost businesses more if equipment needs to be replaced.
Businesses that do not regularly maintain inventory—or do not take a comprehensive inventory before the move—may discover legacy hardware/software as well as hardwired IPs that will be difficult to migrate.
Downtime/Uptime: Data center relocations are massive projects that can impact regular work hours and employee productivity. Since data center infrastructure is a complex web of interdependent servers and systems, creating a careful schedule for server or application downtime is imperative to minimize impact to employees and customers alike.
Furthermore, relocation preparation, and post-relocation testing can be time consuming. To avoid uptime, it’s important to account for the extra strain on staff and internal systems.[3]
TimeConfiguration: Application Delivery Optimization is a broad term that covers several key components of an enterprise’s Data Center infrastructure that supports efficient distribution of data traffic across servers.
A lack of insight into how the current configuration of load balancers and other optimization products handle relocations can significantly hinder a company’s ability to quickly set up their new data center operations.
Plus, a lack of modularity in current configurations could result in a reduction of operation performance after the move.

Five Important Questions to Ask Before Relocating Your Data Center

While the ramifications can be severe, the key to circumventing these obstacles—and any other unforeseen challenges that may appear—is developing a proactive relocation strategy well in advance of executing the move.

Questions

If a business is considering moving its data center operations, it will be better equipped for success by considering the following 5 questions:

1. What is the scope of the relocation?

To better gauge the demands a move will place on a business’ resources and personnel, clearly define the scope of the relocation early in the planning process. Will the relocation involve:

  • Expanding an existing site or moving an entire building to a new location?
  • Account for the lifecycle of their equipment when moving
  • Ensure the new Data Center can accommodate the equipment—both in terms of physical space and power requirements–and will be available imminently and dramatically improve the longevity and performance of data center infrastructure.

2. How do you determine the right location?
Finding the right location for a new/expanding data center can be daunting, but diligently analyzing the size, power, and security requirements of the new location insulates your businesses from unforeseen expenses. When determining the appropriate spatial and power requirements for a data center:

  • Consider if the location leaves room to grow
  • Take the time early in the planning process to assess security measures—like fences, locks, or badging equipment
  • Identify any additional measures that are needed to meet security standards

3. What are the best practices for tracking equipment?
Companies should take inventory of equipment and monitor its transportation to the new location. Questions to mull over could include whether or not:

  • Staff create barcodes and manually scan equipment in and out of each location
  • Companies rely on cloud-based tracking software?
  • Data centers require extensive hardware components to function because losing small amounts of cabling can extend system downtime and severely impact a business’ ability to function
  • IT develops a clear methodology for tracking and determining if there are sufficient resources to accommodate that approach.

4. Are there compliance factors to consider?
Ensuring that a new data center meets information security compliance standards is critical, especially if a business’ servers traffic payment card information or Protected Health Information (PHI).

Businesses should review prior audits to clarify their data center’s current state of compliance and use the move as an opportunity to remediate any gaps for future audits.

5. How will you execute the relocation?
Successful data center relocation plans require a significant amount of time and manpower including:

  • Taking inventory
  • Breaking down servers
  • Setting up equipment
  • Testing functionality

Moving a data center can also necessitate overtime for staff and prolonged system downtime.

Data center equipment is fragile and correctly implementing this equipment at a new location requires extensive experience. As such, businesses should weigh the benefits of executing a move in-house against leveraging the expertise of a Managed Services Provider.

Although relocating business-critical assets can be difficult and time consuming, thorough planning will ensure a seamless transition of data center infrastructure. Moreover, a meticulously planned relocation minimizes impact to both staff and customers while providing businesses with an opportunity for growth.

To learn more about how your business can manage IT relocations and improve data center operations, read our Data Center Operations Best Practice Guide.


[1] Data Center Companies Seek Tax Incentives
[2] Power, Pollution and the Internet
[3] Colocation Hosting: Challenges in Data Center Migrations

Data Center Relocation: What Should You Know?