The digitization of business and the move toward cloud computing have given companies new and better options for the structure and location of their Data Centers. But a Data Center migration is rarely an easy undertaking.
Deborah Forster, a CSC Project Manager, and Simon Crouch, a CSC Solution Architect, have worked together on several complicated and successful Data Center migrations in recent years.
In a two-part series (part two here), they share thoughts on what goes into an effective migration and how they approach each project from their respective roles:
What are some of the trends causing enterprises to re-engineer their Data Centers?
Deborah: Companies are looking for faster application development and to get more agile in general. It’s part of a broader transformation in which IT becomes more efficient in how it supports every touch point in the product life cycle.
Cost savings and rationalization are also key factors. As is the blurring of distinctions between the compute, storage and networking siloes. The explosion of mobile devices changes the needs for networking and storage. And of course, improving cybersecurity and getting a handle on Big Data matters, too.
Simon: Big Data is an important factor driving Data Center migrations. Companies are generating massive amounts of data, which is both a challenge and an opportunity if they know what to do with it. Companies that can turn their data tidal waves into actionable business intelligence can create a real market advantage.
What are some of the common challenges of a Data Center migration or upgrade?
Simon: From my perspective as an architect, I find it critical to get full engagement from the business groups, not just the IT department. IT is an enabler, not an end unto itself. We need to talk to the people who actually use the applications being supported.
It sounds basic, but we also need absolutely accurate information about the IT infrastructure. This often isn’t as easy as it should be, due to things like pockets of “dark IT,” unaccounted for servers and systems that exist in most large organizations. We need to know things like the status of application development and software licenses. The more information the better, so we can keep the impact of the migration on the business to an absolute minimum.
Deborah: Another common challenge is that the architecture can be very old. Legacy hardware and applications may have been in place for years, with little or no institutional knowledge of when they were first deployed or minimal requirement for maintenance.
It’s vital to understand how everything fits together. Most business functions do not need to worry about this as long as their applications are working. But we need to understand how every IT function interacts with every other one before embarking on a Data Center project.
What are the characteristics of a successful client partnership?
Deborah: Full buy-in from the business side and complete, accurate information about the IT infrastructure. To those I’d add a very clear, agreed to understanding of the scope and the goals of the migration. It’s important to have clarity at the outset about who the stakeholders are, and what they need to see, as well as clear, focused planning for migrations.
Simon: Yes, that’s absolutely right. And continuing to work on that communication throughout the process, making sure everyone is aligned as to what needs to happen and when. “Do we all agree on what success looks like, and when it will happen?” That’s something you continue to work on to ensure alignment. It’s so much easier to tackle issues with open and constant lines of communication.
Simon Crouch is a solutions architect, particularly experienced in tech refresh and work in understanding and interpreting customer requirements.
Deborah Forster is a manager of IT infrastructure and applications project for CSC clients.