Data Center Migration Steps and Challenges

Updated on Jun 18, 2022 by

Given the growing demands of IT departments, physical space is at a premium in many data center facilities. On the other hand, the growing importance of cloud services and hybrid clouds have both raised concerns about data center usage and efficiency. Therefore, data center migration plays an important role in an enterprise's IT strategy.

Why Is Data Center Migration Important to Enterprises?

Data centers have become one of the important assets for the development of modern enterprises. Data center migration has three major benefits for enterprise business expansion.

Resource consolidation. The data center migration process will highlight any redundancies in the data, enabling the consolidation of data and processes. Deleting unnecessary data means more free space on the server.

Avoid security risks. Migrating data to a newer system is the fastest way to keep your data safe. Data center migration provides an opportunity to evaluate current data center security protocols and procedures and optimize for problem points in a timely manner.

Efficiency improvements. Consolidation and migration require planning and process assessment. Data center migration allows enterprise to evaluate its IT systems, requirements, and processes. Doing so removes inefficiencies that were previously unnoticed or seemed too complex to fix.

7 Steps to Data Center Migration

Datacenter modernization is a complicated and extensive process. Here’s what you should do at each stage of a migration:

Requirements and planning

Enterprises have to plan site locations, network architectures, sizing forecasts, requests for information (RFIs) and communication plans in advance.

Infrastructure assessment

Enterprise needs to review the network architecture and related infrastructure for new data centers. Cable routing and cable management are also important, and a cost matrix needs to be determined when doing link design.

Design and estimation

Enterprises formulate data center migration strategies, considering whether to migrate low-level or high-level applications first. Estimate and plan ahead for possible problems during the migration process.

Data and application migration planning

Applications may need to be refactored prior to migration, and IT team must create detailed test plans to ensure that the refactored application works as expected.

Hardware migration planning

Datacenter migrations involves colocation and switches require a lot of moving hardware, such as servers, storage, and network infrastructure. Servers require extra care during transport because they are sensitive to electrostatic discharge and other environmental conditions.

Target data center verification

A pre-production assessment of the infrastructure ensures successful operation after migration. Due to the high cost of data center migration and infrastructure requirements, it is critical for teams to identify ahead of time and incorporate this into the decision-making process when selecting a data center.

Test and validate

Post-migration testing to ensure that applications and systems are functioning properly. Testing should include all high-availability components and flyovers during the maintenance window. Depending on the type of workload, teams can perform functional testing, performance testing, and other types of testing.

Data Center Migration Challenges

Unplanned downtime

Unplanned downtime is a common problem in enterprise data center migrations, which can impact customer usage while increasing business losses. Application outages due to unplanned downtime can create many problems for data center operations. To avoid this, companies should migrate applications and data in stages, always have a roll back plan, use dedicated tools, etc.

Data loss

Data migration is a very important part of the migration process. When data migration creates downtime, compatibility and performance issues, it can impact enterprise business operations. Before migrating, it is very important to ensure that all data is backed up, especially the files that are to be migrated.

Network latency

Latency is one of the most underrated data center migration challenges. Because servers are often migrated in batches, applications sharing a local connection need to maintain communication. Latency is critical to customer experience, and to mitigate potential network latency issues and determine which applications work together and when, teams need to plan their data center migration schedules and keep them as simple as possible to separate as possible. Of course, segmenting traffic, establishing multi-cloud connections, offloading the Internet at the edge, etc., are also effective solutions to avoid unnecessary delays.

Cost consumption

Enterprises need to be very clear about their goals, evaluate resources, and avoid wasting costs. In the process of data migration, it is necessary to optimize the migration cost and find the best practice. Assess what resources are being used, analyze what can be optimized and how, monitor spending on IT costs, and investigate new services to reduce costs and optimize the use of infrastructure.

Security construction

Many security issues need to be considered when moving data and applications to a new data center: compliance violations, contract breaches, insecure APIs, issues with vendors, configured servers, malware, external attacks, unexpected errors, insider threats, etc. So when configuring the transfer, investigate the impact the migration might have on its mission-critical applications. In fact, enterprises can make decisions on a case-by-case basis to selectively investigate these issues and institute security measures, securing the security facilities to ensure the long-term security of data and applications in new destinations.


Notes of Data Center Migration

Data center migration is not only about the challenges in the migration process, but there are also some data center migration risks that need to be avoided.

Service availability

The main purpose of a data center is to provide applications and data storage for the business. Datacenter migration must first consider the availability of the underlying services. These services include infrastructure applications such as databases, network devices, and end-user applications.

Capacity planning

The capacity of the data center mainly includes: space, power, cooling, load bearing and network. Enterprises need to design a capacity plan for new data centers based on IT needs.

Remove or replace inefficient hardware and software

There are generally two strategies for migrating physical servers: lift and shift, data replication. In a lift and shift strategy, hardware is placed on moving trucks and installed in new data centers, potentially damaging in transit. The data replication strategy is to migrate data over leased lines. Leased lines include two sub-swing hardware scenarios: physical-to-physical (P2P) migration and physical-to-virtual (P2V) conversion.

Data migration

Migrating application data from one location to another can be one of the most complex aspects of a data center migration project. You can choose to perform tape - or hard-disk-based backups. Some businesses have dedicated connections between two data centers, utilizing hardware- or software-based synchronization mechanisms to perform data migrations.


As an effective means of load balancing for enterprises to expand their business, data center migration is a complex move, which will become a key element to ensure business continuity for enterprises. During the relocation process, not only the infrastructure of the new data center, but also the business problems brought about by the relocation must be considered. Therefore, enterprises need to make comprehensive plans before relocation to minimize data center migration risks.

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