Top tips for switching data centres
There are many reasons for relocating your IT equipment to a new data centre, varying from a refresh of equipment currently running in-house to dissatisfaction with an existing data centre to a desire to avoid the high costs associated with the bigger data centre chains. It is imperative that your data centre meets all the needs and demands of your business.
Reliability, performance, cost, scalability and risk management are all crucial to the service a data centre delivers. You may worry about the possibility of outages, the ease of getting to your most critical equipment, the connectivity needs as your business grows or the quality of the support service you are receiving. If your data centre is delivering anything less than your needs, it may be time to initiate a move.
If done correctly, moving to a new data centre can prove to be most beneficial. But it needs time and patience and, above all, good planning. However, a well-executed move to the right data centre can establish a solid base for future operations and future expansion.
WHAT TO CONSIDER
Relocating all of your vital kit needs to be supported by the right resources. As a company you need to consider whether you have enough time and enough hands to successfully switch data centres. After all, moving your kit could mean experiencing considerable amounts of down time if you get it wrong. There needs to be a degree of confidence that a move can be completed both quickly and efficiently without any repercussions for the business.
For many, employing professional movers is plausible and effective solution. Others may simply opt to use their own teams to co-ordinate and complete the move. Either way, it is imperative that the best possible protective equipment is used to prevent damage to the equipment. Specially designed padded crates are just one of the many resources a removal team will need to use to efficiently move your IT equipment.
It’s important to remember that documenting the move is just as important as the physical completion of the move. Every last detail of the move should be recorded, so that problems can be traced back quickly and effectively. All the records should be taken with the equipment as it moves so that reassembly can be handled quickly and any discrepancies identified as they occur so they can be corrected before they cause problems. It is good practice to keep a change log in the designated spaces and enforce the disciplines of recording all changes as they are made. If this is a process you have already implemented in your current data centre, it will prove invaluable during the move.
We cannot stress enough the importance of labelling your equipment. You may feel confident that you know what’s what when it comes to your servers, switches and rail kits, but inevitably a time-consuming and complex move is guaranteed to throw you out of sorts. It’s a lot of kit to keep track of and labelling everything as it comes out is the best way to know where everything goes when it comes to re-assembling the equipment.
Don’t unplug anything at your current data centre unless you have all the information to put it back in the right place when you arrive. It can be all too easy to make mistakes that could prove costly if you cannot roll back to where you were. To avoid a hefty bill, enforce the necessary disciplines within the entire process – it will help you to save and money later on.
DESIGNING THE RACK LAYOUT
It is imperative that before you start installing in your new data centre you have carefully considered your rack layout. The design of your rack layout does not to be particularly elaborate, but it does need to be logical. For example, it is recommended that your keyboard and monitor shelf is located at a convenient height for quick and easy use.
After your keyboard and monitor shelf, you will need to decide where to put your heavy servers. Ideally these are best near the bottom to avoid having to install them at a height. Next are your switches, routers and firewalls. These will all need to be placed in a way where you are able to see all of the necessary indicator lights. The cables need to be able to run without restriction with annotated diagrams of the way the way they are wired.
Your rack design should have plenty of detail with power, network and cabling taking precedence. You should be planning the location of every device’s power and network connection and ensuring you have the right length cables to do so.
REPLACING OLD KIT
One of the biggest considerations of making a data centre switch is choosing whether to move or replace old or outdated kit. When under-going a move, it is a good opportunity to consider replacing some of the older equipment in your arsenal. There is no need to have a completely new set of equipment, as most on premise set-ups have parts of varying ages. However, you might need to consider the chances of any older equipment not surviving the data switch experience.
Even if you are confident that your equipment will be able to survive the trauma of a relocation, you still need to take into account the downtime of the move as well as the downtime of a system replacement a few months or years later. Make the most of the downtime you are experiencing for a relocation to make the appropriate equipment upgrades. This way, you will arrive at your new data centre with confidence that your equipment will be fully operational.
The tedious task that you will thank yourself later for doing is effective cable management. It may be tempting to cram everything in the rack, but it is important to put cable management units in to make your cabling and wiring simpler. You need to be able to pull your equipment out without the cables being stressed or catching on anything, which means making the most of rear cable arms by strapping cables tightly to them to prevent snagging.
You also need to label both ends of every cable. Not a quick task by any means, but just simple, clear, handwritten labels such suffice to make the life of the installers, and future maintainers, easier in the long run. Choose tags that are sturdy and aren’t likely to fall off during transit too, as this will only undo all of your hard work.
When it comes to switching data centres, the key to successes is vigilant and extensive planning, good, enforced disciplines, and organisation. Companies should always expect the unexpected, as the relocation of complex equipment can often bring a variety of surprises. Always allow for extended downtime and make an effort to pre-empt any damage to the equipment.
Switching to the right data centre means you are guaranteed to have plenty of help with the process. Redcentric have an expert team on hand to help you switch to a data centre in a prime location in the heart of London. If you are considering a relocation, whether from an in-house operation or from another data centre, give Redcentric a call.