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Data Center Migrations: The Wrong and Right Way Pt. 1

Posted by QuoteColo on March 24, 2014

data center migrations

One of the eternal truths of the web hosting industry is from time to time; a forced migration will take place. Due to a web hosting, colocation, Cloud hosting or dedicated server company expanding or shrinking, that company will move data centers to accommodate their server and hardware needs.

The migration – another way of saying moving data centers – impacts both web server providers and colocation consumers. If done right, a web hosting migration encompasses timely communications, limited to no noticeable downtime, live communications of the move and if need be, a reimbursement policy if server downtime occurs.

In the years we have been in operation, Quotecolo.com has seen many web hosting companies perform full data center migrations. Of those, some have gone well and some have gone horribly. In this three-piece article, we are going to cover the right way to perform a colocation migration and the wrong way to perform a web hosting migration.

1.     Prepping Clients with Communications

As noted by the G.I. Joe Public Service Announcements of the 1980’s, “knowing is half the battle.” When it comes to a data center migration, knowing is indeed half the battle. A data center migration means clients servers will be offline for a certain amount of time. Often those clients rely on those servers to run their business, operate their ad revenue generating blog, run their database servers etc. With clients relying on your company’s colocation services, they want to know when their servers will be moved (downtime), how long the migration window will be (downtime) and when everything will be back up and running (no more downtime).

Do: When performing a data center migration inform your clients of the move at least two months in advance. Use your mailing list, your SMS notification list, your website or your social media feeds to inform your clients of the migration. The last thing any client who relies on your company servers wants is to find out about a scheduled migration one week before it happens. Doing this leaves that person scrambling for ways to keep his/her business up and running during service downtime.

Don’t: Leave scheduled server migration communications t the last minute. Pulling off a perfect migration is a combination of timing, experience and communication. Half your battle is going to be informing your colocation clients about the move and keeping them informed about the progress of their colocation servers during the migration. The last thing you should do is leave communication to the last week or have a lack of communication with clients during the window of migration.

2.     Define Your Window

Part of communicating your colocation server migration to your consumers is defining the window of migration. Defining your window of migration means understanding where the majority of your clients are physically located, what time of the day will impact their services the most and how much downtime they can withstand at a certain hour of the day. More than anything, defining a migration window is about understanding what time of the day/night will impact your consumers the least and will allow you to migrate their servers in the quickest amount of time.

Do: Define your migration window. Pick a time wherein the majority of your consumers won’t be impacted by downtime. Typically a good migration time is in the middle of the night, 12 am – 5 am. Understand that defining your migration window will not only give your company techs a time frame for how quickly work needs to be accomplished; it will also give your clients the ability to plan for scheduled downtime. This is a plus on both sides.

Don’t: Meander about the scheduled colocation data migration window. If you do not pick a defined time to migration servers, not only will your clients be pissed, your team won’t know what to do or how to do it. Additionally, once you define the server migration window, stick to it. If you say everything is going to be done between 12 am and 4 am, make sure all preparations are taken to hit that migration window. Remember, the downtime your migration is causing impacts your clients. The more your colocation server migration runs over, the more your clients are impacted. The more your clients are impacted, the angrier they become.

You don’t want angry clients.

In part two of the wrong and right way to conduct a data center migration, we are going to talk about communications during migrations.

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