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June 21, 2024

Minimizing Risk: Top 5 Challenges in Data Center Migration

Organizations are at their most vulnerable during key IT transitions, like data center migrations. In fact, data center migration is one of the most critical and complicated IT transitions you’ll face today. This article will cover the importance of risk assessment in data migration, common data center migration challenges, and best practices for mitigating migration risks.

The importance of risk assessment in data migration

Carrying out a data center migration risk assessment is crucial to ensure the integrity, security, and continuity of business operations. Data migration involves transferring data from one system to another, which can expose it to various risks such as data loss, corruption, unauthorized access, and downtime. 

A thorough risk assessment identifies potential threats and vulnerabilities, allowing for the implementation of data migration strategies to mitigate these risks. This proactive approach helps safeguard critical information, ensures compliance with regulatory requirements, and minimizes disruptions, thereby preserving organizational efficiency and customer trust throughout the migration process.

Below are some of the key data center migration risks you may need to consider:

Top 5 data center migration challenges

With migration projects often being significantly high-cost and lasting for years, you need to be certain you can migrate successfully and avoid major incidents. Without such visibility, these are some of the data center migration challenges organizations are facing:

1. Overtaxed change capacity

The rate of IT change in business is increasing. Most major organizations are currently undergoing a data center migration of some kind; whether that’s consolidating existing services, moving to another physical data center or moving to a private or public cloud. Although payoffs in terms of cost savings, revenue and risk reduction are great, high levels of risk remain. Data center migration typically triples the amount of change undertaken by an organization. With 80% of incidents happening as a result of some kind of change, having the ability to perfectly manage the entire calendar of change has never been more essential. When you can visualize the entirety of your change roadmap, you can access key data that allows you to optimize and increase change capacity and reduce the risk of release contention ahead of time. 

2. Ineffective planning and data center migration testing

Without the ability to efficiently plan and rehearse your migration, a data center migration is put at risk before it even begins. Doing this manually, via spreadsheets, phone calls and emails, is difficult and time-consuming - and when the plan is ready, it still can’t offer the visualization you need to spot issues or avoid a failed migration.

The technology and processes you use to plan and rehearse the event need to give you insight into every part of the change process, spanning both human and technical elements. When you can see all of those moving parts, you can plan and rehearse in more detail; the ability to identify all potential issues ahead of time minimizes risk, while a realistic rehearsal ensures that your teams are as prepared as possible.

3. Difficulty understanding progress

Without real-time visibility into the change data, it can be difficult to fully comprehend progress during the migration itself. When data center migrations are managed using spreadsheets, phone calls and emails, status reports are often out of date at any given moment, due to the length of time it takes to collate and communicate status reports. Without up-to-date information, trying to make fact-based decisions in order to move forward safely poses a variety of threats.

Equally, the quality of the data needs to be detailed enough to enable you to make the right decision at the right time. Where specifically are delays happening? Where are the risks? Where is extra attention needed? Only with accurate, real-time data can you quickly answer these questions with precision and take informed action.

4. Clunky communications processes

When disparate teams have to spend time manually updating others on their progress, valuable time is wasted. Streamlining communications processes helps free up those people to focus on the migration work itself, aiding overall progression efficiency. 

If that streamlining is done in a way that brings everybody together to collaborate in one space, they’re also able to remain on the same page in real time - from the workers on the ground to stakeholders and senior management. Then, communications aren’t just made quicker and easier, they’re also organized in a way that facilitates collaboration and aids decision making.

5. Painstaking audit process

Once you’ve completed your data center migration, piecing together data for audit and post-event learning can be a mammoth task. Using spreadsheets, phone records and human memory to reconstruct the sequence of events - all while exhausted in the aftermath of the migration - doesn’t give you the accuracy needed to satisfy audit requirements or conduct effective post-event learning.

In order to meet audit requirements, satisfy regulators and promote continuous improvement, you need to capture the full progression of your data center migration. With complete transparency into every action and understanding of accountability at every step, you’ll have all the information regulators could need, as well as the ability to focus teams on continuous learning for improved change in the future.

Best practices for mitigating data center migration risks

To combat these common data center migration challenges, follow these five best practices:

  1. Conduct thorough planning and assessment

Before undertaking a data center migration, conduct a thorough assessment of your infrastructure and applications and the dependencies between them. From there, you can build a detailed migration plan including timelines, resource allocation, and contingency plans. 

  1. Ensure good collaboration

Engagement and buy-in from stakeholders is key to success, as well as ensuring everyone involved in executing the plan has clear visibility of their role and access to clear communications. By using automated runbooks to build your migration plan, you can ensure that everyone involved can clearly understand what actions they need to take and when, and can be updated in real time on progress.

  1. Backup your data pre-migration

Perform comprehensive backups of all data and applications before starting your migration, and ensure you have a disaster recovery plan in place to quickly restore services if there is an issue with the migration. 

  1. Test and validate

Conduct thorough data center migration testing in a staging environment that mirrors the production environment as closely as possible. Validate that all applications, services, and data function correctly after the migration. Include performance testing and testing of your disaster recovery plan.

  1. Implement security measures

Implement strict security protocols to protect data during transit, such as encryption and secure transfer methods. Regularly review and update security policies to address any new vulnerabilities that may arise in the new environment. 

And, to really ensure you have full visibility and control over all the automated and manual tasks involved in a data center migration and meet data center migration challenges, there is one more best practice to follow:

  1. Use Cutover for data center migration

Cutover’s SaaS platform with automated and executable runbooks for data center migration provides automation, orchestration, and visibility while keeping people in the loop for decision making. Our automated runbooks standardize and accelerate data center migration.

Book a demo to find out how Cutover can help your organization meet data center migration challenges and minimize risks.


Chloe Lovatt
IT Disaster Recovery
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