After deciding to move a data centre’s workload and thoroughly evaluating the business risk of failure, fall back options, costs, staff capabilities and other company initiatives to the develop the migration strategy, you’re ready to develop the detailed implementation plans to make it happen.
As with any important project, meticulous preparation is essential to achieving the intended outcomes. Beyond the specific details of the plans themselves, there are several elements to consider during their development. Many of these guiding principles will come as no surprise, as they are not exclusive to data centre migrations.
- Project sponsorship for the initiative needs to be clearly defined. Ideally the sponsor should be a member of the organization’s senior management or an executive. In order to help gain organizational buy-in, this individual needs to be, and feel, that they are in charge of the project. The sponsor must demonstrate their support for the initiative to manage the internal perception and minimize staff resistance. Often there are higher priorities within the organization, such as bringing new services or products to the marketplace, that will take precedent over something that may be seen as not having any real benefit in the short term. The sponsor therefore needs to have a clear mandate to advocate for the initiative, knowing that it will set up the organization for even greater success the next time there is a competing priority with a major product or service launch.
- Open and honest communication with all of the people impacted by the move is critical. It is very likely that there will be at least some resistance to the initiative. The project may affect them personally, including impacting their peers across the organization, their career and their personal commitment to previously deployed solutions. If people aren’t properly informed of the details of the project, they will often create scenarios in their minds that are far worse than the reality.
- Teamwork is essential, and everyone involved needs to know they have the power to create and share ideas. It is part of the responsibility of the project sponsor to ensure this is clearly communicated and to help to facilitate the sharing of ideas amongst the team.
Consideration of Resource Limitations
- As is typical in many organizations, there may be resource limitations and other initiatives competing for the same resources and subject matter experts, as well as changing schedules. When developing the plans, it is often useful to consider building in contingencies to account for these potential limitations.
- Knowledge retention is also important within the organization as responsibilities change as a result of the move. Good documentation can go a long way to help encourage knowledge transfer and ensure staff are able to perform their required tasks.
- In order to reduce the overall risk and project timeline, it is important to minimize the introduction of change beyond what is specifically necessary to relocate the workload. Sometimes organizations try to do too much too quickly. It is always important to set realistic and achievable goals and to not overpromise.
As is the case with all IT projects, the key elements to success are: user involvement, executive management support, a clear statement of requirements, proper planning, realistic expectations and small project milestones. A data centre migration project is no different.