How to Plan a Successful Data Center Migration


If you have already chosen a new data center to host your digital assets, it’s time to plan your migration. (Not there yet? Read this post on how to shortlist data centers.) Data center migration is far more complex than it may seem at first glance.

Copy-paste or simply moving your hardware from one data center to another is not enough—at least not if you care about data integrity.

Let’s make sure your migration process is successful and that nothing is lost along the way. First, a quick theoretical primer. 

What Is Data Center Migration and Why Is It Important?

Data center migration is the process of moving your assets from one data center to another. You might also know it as “data center relocation.”

There are countless reasons why you may need to go through this process:

  • You relocate your offices and you want a data center that’s closer to “home.”
  • You need to be compliant with a new set of regulations.
  • You want lower latency and more uptime.
  • You need better data security.
  • You’re moving from cloud storage.
  • You’re adding colocation backup to your data storage strategy.

Whatever the reason, a successful data center migration looks similar. Let’s look into it.

3 Steps to a Successful Data Center Migration

While successful data center migrations follow a few rules of thumb, it’s worth noting that your exact plan may depend on your current infrastructure, the data you’re moving, and the downtime you’re prepared to deal with.

This is why the first step is:

1. Audit Your Current Data Center or Data Storage

If you’re working on a full data center migration, you need to know exactly what it is you’re moving and how the move needs to happen. We recommend a top-to-bottom assessment of everything you’re currently storing. 

Start with the applications your current infrastructure supports:

  • Who are their owners?
  • Are there any planned changes or (firmware) upgrades?
  • What’s the maximum downtime you can allow for?
  • What are the operating system, server, and network requirements of your apps?

Next, look into your existing infrastructure. The questions below will help you decide whether you can use some of your existing hardware (for instance, when you’re transferring your back-ups into a colocation facility):

  • What are the ages and models of each of your hardware pieces?
  • Your current rack layout—can/should it be replicated?
  • What are the power specifications of your current infrastructure?
  • What about the cooling requirements?
  • If you’re in the cloud, what do your usage stats look like?

Armed with this information, you will be better equipped to set a realistic budget and deadline for your data center migration. 

2. Audit the Infrastructure and Functionalities of the New Data Center

You likely have most of this information from your correspondence with the data center owners. Look back to your initial emails and dig deep into your storage contract.

You’re looking for detailed and precise information on:

  • Power specifications
  • Cooling capabilities
  • Rack layout
  • Monitoring requirements
  • Facility safety and security

Ideally, you should find a few overlapping areas, like similar rack layouts and power specifications. This means that you won’t have to uproot and change everything.

However, a data center migration is an excellent opportunity to improve efficiency. This is the perfect time to get some of the nitty-gritty out of the way: upgrade your software and replace some of your obsolete hardware, for example.

These simple changes may allow you to reduce your energy consumption and improve the reliability of your infrastructure, as well as improve your latency and reduce your downtime.

Granted, most of these depend on what your new data center facility offers. Still, the migration alone is a great opportunity to evaluate and improve your infrastructure altogether. 

3. Create a Migration Checklist

You may be 100% clear on what needs to be done pre-migration, during migration, and post-migration. But the process is rarely a one-person job.

Most likely, you will be working in a mixed team — your internal team and the data center’s consultants and engineers. So you need to make sure that everyone is on the same page.

Your checklist should include:

  • Role outlines: who’s responsible for what?
  • A timeline of the migration
  • Complete day-of planning: what’s happening, where, and how long should it take?
  • Contact information for every member of the team
  • Test plans to make sure that everything is operational after the move
  • A contingency and disaster recovery plan: what happens if the hardware fails or if the downtime is extended?
  • Continuous checkpoints: test the process as it happens to catch any glitches before they become real problems
  • Back-up monitoring: are your back-ups safely nested in a colocation facility while the migration is happening?

Work With a Reliable Partner for Your Data Center Migration

You don’t have to handle everything alone. In fact, it’s easier for everyone if your data center partner is involved from the planning stage. They know their data center better than anyone, so their advice on migration is invaluable.

If you’re thinking about moving your assets to a new data center, Heartland Technology’s data center is conveniently located in the heart of the Midwest. Our SOC2-certified facility offers countless storage and connectivity options.

Plus, when you work with us, we’re right by your side every step of the way. Our team is happy to guide you through a hiccup-free data center migration process. Get in touch and let’s find out if we are the right choice for you.