As colocations continue their upward trajectory, we take a look at what’s involved with moving into a colo. From the consideration stage to planning and the day of the move, here’s what you need to know.
More businesses are choosing to move into a colo (colocation) facilities as viable alternatives to building new data centers. Recently, Equinox made a $3.6 billion deal to buy 29 colocation data centers from Verizon. As businesses try to find a balance between owning data centers and using cloud-only solutions, you can expect more colo data centers being part of the equation.
Colocation environment helps you save time and money. If you are in a situation where your company is rapidly expanding and your platform isn’t cloud compliant, colocation can be the lifeline you need.
At first, moving into a colo facility can seem like a daunting task. It can feel like invasive surgery into your infrastructure. But it doesn’t have to be. Here are a few steps that will help you along your journey into colocation bliss:
1. Plan, Plan, Plan!
A good plan creates a roadmap to success. From development to operations, it should involve everyone who will be impacted. The goal of the plan is to create a clear understanding various aspects like transition time, service downtime, capacity mismatch, licensing and individual responsibilities.
Depending on the size of your facility and the characteristics of your operation, planning times can vary significantly. Getting everyone into one room to create a consensus can often be a grueling process. Be prepared to go through several drafts before coming up with a solid plan. Don’t rush.
Document your plan and get sign-offs from all departments.
2. War Games
The military prepares for real war through playing war games. You should too. There is no way to predict what will go wrong during a data center transition. You can’t replicate every scenario. But you can run through use cases and playbooks to ensure the transition team is well-prepared.
Feedback from your war games will help you further refine your plan. For more complex transitions, feel free to hire third-party consultants such as Instor to assess your trials.
3. Clearly Defined Responsibilities
Data center move involves software, servers and network equipment. Your transition team will have experts in every area. Without a well-defined responsibility hierarchy, it can get chaotic. It’s not enough to have verbal agreements about “who does what.” Have clear expectations in writing. Your transition documentation should be auditable. In case there is a failure, there should be a paper trail to resolve the issue.
4. Parallel Facilities
Start with the premise, because transitions always take longer than expected and things often go wrong. You need overlapping systems to run in parallel during the transition for safety. It’s probably a good idea to keep your source data center functional until you have thoroughly tested your new installations.
5. Test Your Plan
Testing a new facility can be time-consuming, especially when you are dealing with live data. There is no way to test everything in a large migration. Unit tests can help you spot check and make sure things are running smoothly. You can also run conformance, functional and performance tests on your new colocation facility.
6. Backup Verification
Today most data centers have some form of backup mechanism in place. However, it’s important to check those systems before the move. Try restoring data from backups and check against live servers to make sure the mechanism is reliable. Otherwise, you might end up with a false sense of safety. Having the ability to rollback is critical before you start your transition.
7. Game Day Team Preparation
During the migration, the whole team should be available. Both the source and destination facilities should be physically accessible to your team members. For long transitions, use on-call rotations to have team members available 24/7.
Moving into a colo facility is time-consuming and complex work. You can make it easier through planning, practicing and testing. In the long run, colocation facilities can help your business run more cost-effectively, making it a worthy investment.
Moving into a colo? Let us help. Explore Instor’s colocation options here.