Moving a datacenter is a complex task that takes months of preparation and planning. Modern businesses require that all essential systems be available all the time, even during a datacenter move. Whether you’re tasked with your first move or you’re an experienced pro, each move is unique and it’s important to meticulously plan and prepare for every datacenter relocation. Avoiding extended downtime and cut-over delays is critical, because delays lead to customer service problems and business disasters.
It used to be that when companies planned a datacenter move, there'd be much lifting and shifting of physical hardware. Moving trucks and movers would arrive, power down and disconnect computers, server racks, and other equipment, and carefully move the equipment to its new home. Once there, all the complex components were then reassembled.
A physical move comes with high risk:
- Sensitive components invariably fail during disassembly, transport, or reassembly.
- Critical details of the infrastructure are often overlooked, such as communication and network requirements.
- The order of component reassembly, rack structure, power, or cooling is often overlooked or miscalculated.
Fixing these problems during the tight time constraints of a physical move is extremely demanding and can create delays and business outages.
Today, with the availability of virtualization software and the expansion of public and private clouds, time constrained physical moves of datacenters are mostly a thing of the past.
Modern Virtual Datacenter Moves
Most large datacenter moves are now virtual rather than physical. They involve shifting servers and business applications via communication networks to a duplicate image of computer equipment, which is physically hosted at the new datacenter or on virtual hosted servers.
Some physical equipment may still move to the new datacenter. However, getting and setting up physical equipment is rarely the time sensitive issue that it once was during the bad old days of datacenter moves performed on the weekend, using a physical “lift and shift” approach.
Virtual "Lift and Shift"
While a virtual move has many advantages, recreating a mirrored virtual datacenter that duplicates a current datacenter production systems is far from easy. A virtual datacenter move requires significant planning, preparation, and testing.
One significant advantage of a virtual move is that time constraints go away. You can move systems and components gradually and test them thoroughly before cutting over from the old production system to the new virtual datacenter.
However, a virtual move doesn’t eliminate the need to deal with physical elements. For example, you still need to decommission physical equipment in the original datacenter. You’ll still need to erase servers and storage, as well as properly decommission and securely dispose of them. Old and now redundant hardware and server racks will need to be moved and relocated as needed.
Key Issues on Virtual Datacenter Migration
Businesses often rely on Physical to Virtual (P2V) tools to move to new virtual datacenters. P2V replication tools clone copies of servers to virtual machines running under a Cloud Hypervisor or to new datacenter machines. Unfortunately, P2V tools are not a panacea when it comes to moving workloads to a cloud-hosted VM or to new datacenter servers.
The P2V “virtual lift and shift” approach has many drawbacks, as we’ve highlighted previously:
- The disc storage on the target VM needs to be at least as large or larger than the original source server. Virtual servers need to be exact duplicates rather than properly scaled virtual servers.
- P2V replicates storage clutter, which is expensive.
- P2V offers no ability to consolidate workloads from many source servers to a single virtual clone, or to split workloads from the original physical server across many virtual targets.
- Reconfiguring virtual P2V clones makes it difficult to sync the original source servers and virtual clones during a cut-over window.
- P2V requires complex reconfiguration of IP addresses, network connections, drive mappings, and database connections to make applications work on the virtual clones. Plus, peripheral drivers must be modified or replaced to work on the virtual clone.
- Patching and maintaining individual legacy OS instances created with P2V clones becomes an ongoing management nightmare.
Understandably, IT staff don’t want to change much during a datacenter move. They have enough on their plate as it is. However, we maintain that a virtual move offers time and many opportunities to improve datacenter management and performance.
Best Practices in Virtual Datacenter Moves Using Migration Intelligence
Migration Intelligence is key to solving the challenge of moving workloads in scale to a new and improved virtual datacenter. What do we mean by Migration Intelligence (MI)? At the simplest level, MI means; Be smart about what you move and how you move it. Figure out what you need to move before you move it, then be smart about how you move it.
Take advantage of the time provided by a virtual datacenter move to optimize and thoroughly test moving or cut-over. You can make better choices, which will improve the operation and ongoing costs of running your new datacenter.
1: Move only what you need
Properly planning a move means monitoring your current production servers in advance of a virtual move. Instead of using the exact image replication approach of P2V, intelligently monitor application usage over time, in advance, and then move only the applications you need from legacy servers to a modern OS instance that is lower cost, preconfigured, supported, and hosted. Then, automate the movement of business-critical applications only to save significant time and money on bandwidth, processing, ongoing storage, and management. No need to move an OS or apps no one uses, and no need to pay for clutter on virtual servers. Test the new virtual system completely before cut-over.
Intelligently moving applications only (rather than copies of entire machines) allows you to consolidate multiple workloads to a single virtual server or split application stacks across multiple virtual servers.
3: Up-level your apps
Instead of copying an outdated OS version and its patches to virtual servers, use intelligent automation to up-level OS versions. Move applications from legacy OS environments like WS2003 or WS2008 to modern cloud- or server-hosted OS versions on WS2012 and WS2016.
Uplifting applications to a virtual-hosted OS instance can be done for less than one-quarter of the network bandwidth, storage, and processing required for P2V cloning.
Up-leveling also closes security exposures inherent in legacy OS instances.
4: Use advanced cloud tools
A modern OS with a standard release level means that you can take advantage of advanced cloud tools to monitor and manage application usage and OS instances. Avoid the ongoing nightmare of patching and maintaining many legacy OS instances. Better OS and application management means time and money savings with:
- Optimized storage
- Improved performance
- Paying for business-critical resources only
5: Minimize reconfiguration costs
Using advanced virtual movement tools also offers significant configuration advantages. You can reconfigure applications on-the-fly, remap IP addresses and other critical application setups. Plus, hosted OS instances come preconfigured with the drivers and other custom configurations they need. Proper reconfiguration flexibility reduces setup problems and system cut-over delays.
If you'd like to learn more about how Migration Intelligence can improve application migration productivity and help you move legacy workloads to a new virtual datacenter, give us a call, register for a free demo, or send us an e-mail. We're always delighted to show you what we can do.