Data Centre Migration Planning

Data Centre Migration refers to relocating the information technology from one data centre to another. Mostly commonly migration is from an on-premise data centre to a colocation data centre.

An on-premise data centre is a purpose-built room within a corporate office building. It will typically have redundant power and specialised cooling which is required to keep the systems running at all times.

A colocation data centre is a purpose built building that can accommodate a large scale technology footprint for many organisations. Each organisation’s IT environment is sharing or collocating within the building and sharing the specialist security, power, cooling, maintenance and operations provided by a specialist data centre operator.

What triggers a data centre migration?

Data centre migrations are not something you should do on a whim. There needs to be a compelling business reason. This might be a decision to move office buildings and using this as the opportunity to move the data centre into a purpose built colocation facility. Or it could be a merger with another company that triggers a data centre consolidation. Or it might be that your current on-premise data centre requires significant investment in cooling and power infrastructure to maintain its reliability. Whatever the reason, planning and executing a data centre migration is not a trivial exercise.

Applications are just the tip of the migration planning iceberg

Applications are just the tip of the migration planning iceberg.

Data Centre Migration Planning

Often migrations have a deadline date associated with the business trigger and its a matter of working back from the deadline date to figure out how much transformation can be achieved within the time constraints. If its an aggressive timeline then the migration may need to be a like-for-like migration or lift and shift migration in order to meet the deadline date.

Alternatively you may have years to plan and execute your migration which provides many opportunities for transformation. This might including investigating hyperconverged infrastructure, modernising applications, virtualising legacy applications and moving workloads to software-as-a-service.

Whether it be a lift and shift migration, or an extensive transformation, there are common migrating planning steps which include:

  1. Inventory – even if you have an up to date CMDB, you want to make sure your inventory is accurate by doing a physical audit of your current data centre to make sure you have a comprehensive inventory of all hardware.
  2. Analysis – once you have your inventory, you will want to enrich your migration data set with information such as operating systems, warranty details, application details, application owners and support teams.
  3. Application Profiling – you now need to go deep to understand application dependencies on IT Infrastructure, and application-to-application dependencies.
  4. Demand Modelling – develop a model for the next 5 years to determine growth or contraction by considering historical growth, technology trends, planned technology initiatives, business plans, workload placement requirements, disaster recovery and other factors.
  5. Scenarios – develop multiple hosting scenarios and conduct what-if analysis to determine each scenario’s ability to support the organisation’s target business requirements. In addition to hardware and/or as-a-service costs, include internal and external resourcing requirements to execute the migration.
  6. Financial Modelling – develop a financial model for each of the scenarios, or at least the preferred scenario to understand the investment required. This should consider the organisation’s preferences for capital or operating expenditure.
  7. Business Case – once all the prior steps have been completed the detail can be summarised into a business case that explains the current state, the target state options, the recommended option, resourcing and the funding required.


That’s a lot of work in preparing for a migration without having started migrating, however like most successful IT projects, its all about the planning. And throughout the planning phase if you are able to have stakeholders provide input and be kept up to date, then you should have the necessary buy-in to have your recommendations supported all the way to an approved business case.

 I will cover migration execution in a subsequent article.

About the Author

Simon Abela is a Principal in the Australian practice of CS Technology where he specialises in data centre and cloud strategy.

This article was originally posted on LinkedIn here on the 16th October 2020. 

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