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Moving equipment from one data center to another is no small undertaking. It requires careful planning and expert execution to minimize risk, to protect the backbone of your business operations, and to ensure the integrity of your equipment and the invaluable data housed there.

A well-orchestrated data center move is a symphony that brings people, plans and equipment together into a seamless operation. Without the right conductor – in this case, a moving company with specialized experience handling technology infrastructure – the consequence may be a cacophony that results in delays, additional expenses, damaged operations and lost revenue.

Here are just some of the factors that go into designing and executing a harmonious data center move, and some of the things to consider when hiring a company to orchestrate it for you.

Understanding The Destination

If you’ve ever moved from one home to another, you may have experienced the frustration of finding out that your sofa doesn’t fit through the doorway or the piano is a lot harder to get to your fourth story apartment than you thought.

But even the smallest of “glitches” can have catastrophic effects when it comes to moving data center equipment. You no longer have the luxury of taking a break for lunch and then addressing the problem later. Your mission-critical operations are at stake and even short delays or minor problems can be magnified when every second of down time is lost revenue or every minute of overtime is an additional expense.

Understanding the destination is vital. For example, are data lines installed, have IP addresses been provisioned, have switches or other ancillary equipment been purchased and set up? If any detail is overlooked or any piece of equipment forgotten, you’re looking at potentially costly delays.

Beyond the equipment, do you understand the building itself? What path will you be taking from truck to rack? Will your equipment be delivered dockside and what is the practical reality of moving that equipment off the truck and onto an elevator? Can your equipment be rolled over the gap between hall and elevator without the wheels getting stuck? It may seem a minute detail but something as small as a gap in the floor can literally bring your move to a halt.

Are there restrictions on the hours or days of the week that you can expect to be welcomed? Or are you using a union crew, which comes with its own set of limitations, and are they scheduled to show up at the right time?

Timing is everything.

If you shut your business down in anticipation of moving your data center operations only to discover that your destination won’t receive you, that would be an unforgivable failure.

In addition to timing, you may face other requirements, such as obtaining credentials to enter the building, ensuring that the proper people are listed for security clearance and the data center is aware of who is arriving and when. You don’t want your moving crew waiting around at 3AM because someone forgot to let security staff know of their arrival.

Understanding restrictions, requirements and practicalities will go a long way toward making your move seamless and trouble-free.

Bringing The Right People Together

Given the vast array of details to consider, you can begin to understand why it is so vital to bring the right team of professionals to the table.

Putting a team together is more than simply hiring the right labor to fill in hours on a timecard. It also requires more than simply the manual labor to physically move equipment.

You’ll need everyone from technicians and electricians to crew to do packaging.

If you’re moving servers that are unracked and need to be packed, you’ll need people who know how to package them securely. If, on the other hand, your servers are still racked, you’ll need someone with a different type of knowledge, whether how to unrack them effectively or perhaps move an entire rack intact without risking damage.

The right professionals will know everything from how to unlock the equipment from rails to how to re-rack them on the other end. The myriad types of rails alone can require a seasoned professional to understand. There may be a need for screws, rack nuts and other tools that only a knowledgeable professional will typically have on hand in anticipation of various scenarios.

If wiring needs to be done at your destination, then qualified technicians must be included in the mix. There are any number of wire management tasks to accomplish, not least of which is organizing wiring neatly and labeling it effectively so that future maintenance – or even future moves – can be done efficiently.

Ensuring that you have a team of professionals with the right skillsets will have a tremendous impact on the success of your data center move.

Avoiding Delays

Delays can be catastrophic in a data center move. It hardly needs to be said that operational down time has an immediate and noticeable impact on a company’s bottom line.

Proper planning can mitigate delays but it helps to understand where they may creep in. We mentioned earlier that failing to understand the destination, improper preparation or an inadequately skilled moving team can all contribute to delays.

But there are other factors that contribute to delays, one of which may be failing to set proper expectations with movers. For example, many moving companies pick up and transport servers at their end of lease. This particular scenario requires no urgency, which means that trucks may make additional stops to pick up other equipment on their way to a final destination. If an end-to-end trip takes five, seven or even ten days, nobody is the wiser.

But if your business-essential equipment ends up on one of these trucks, you’re looking at significant consequences. Even if you can manage to find another truck to intercept your equipment in an emergency capacity, you’re still looking at serious cost overruns and longer than necessary delays.

One mistake – in this case, failing to specify that your move is a migration – is all it takes to completely derail your business. Heed our advice: speak to a qualified data center moving company that understands the difference, and be sure that your team understands your needs.

Anticipating The Unexpected

As if all of the nightmare scenarios we’ve posed so far aren’t enough to scare a business owner, there is still the possibility of the unexpected.

Diligent planning with qualified, reputable professionals will help make your move as smooth and simple as possible, but try as you might, you’ll never have every scenario covered. That’s why experience is so important – and in our experience, something unexpected happens with nearly a quarter of all moves.

Before you panic, there is one other qualifying factor that should give you peace of mind, and that’s your moving company’s ability to improvise. Next to experience, it is your business’s greatest ally.

Improvisation can be as simple as using a passenger elevator to move equipment when a freight elevator breaks down. This isn’t an uncommon scenario, but it does throw a monkey wrench into the best of plans. Passenger elevators have different dimensions, different clearances and are located in different places that may require your team to unpackage equipment, navigate more complex routes or even take to the stairs if all else fails.

When you’re dealing with valuable and sensitive equipment, you want the right team of experienced improvisers who will be able to shift their strategy and still be able to transport your property safely.

Understanding The Domino Effect

Careful orchestration of your data center move ensures that all of the pieces fall into place harmoniously. That means following the right chain of custody procedures, preparing the right packaging, negotiating security, being aware of building restrictions, knowing which team members must be brought to the job and how to implement the proper safety precautions so that moving large or heavy equipment doesn’t result in accidents, injuries or even fatalities.

You should expect your moving professionals to perform a site audit so they understand your job requirements and any special needs. You should also expect to be asked many questions as your team works to understand your equipment and specifications.

As you vet professionals, they should be able to speak effectively to their experience and qualifications. They will be able to demonstrate that their team thinks and performs well beyond manual labor, from technicians to electricians.

Planning and skillful orchestration doesn’t happen by accident. It is the result of working with people who understand the best practices and pitfalls of a data center migration. If you’d like to learn more about how we can help you successfully execute a data center migration, contact us and we’ll be happy to answer your questions and prove our qualifications to you.