Whether the destination is an office or a full-fledged data center, moving your business out of one location and into another is a huge project that shouldn’t be underestimated. In part one, we examined the core fundamentals of a proper relocation project – mapping out the game plan, picking the right location, defining what makes the ideal building, etc. For MSPs and other firms that sell IT services, some of the most pressing challenges associated with moving are related to IT itself.
Be Smart With System Integration and Upgrades
In a migration project, the goal is to transfer your network operations as seamlessly as possible while being cautious not to rush into putting all the pieces back together too quickly. Moving too fast can lead to hiccups and more downtime than you initially anticipated. It’s always a good idea to deploy your IT systems one at a time and thoroughly test each application before getting comfortable. This way you’re confident that network equipment is in sync with the new Internet links, managed services are easily accessible to clients, and backups can be fully restored.
The same logic works when applied to your hardware, too. So if you’ve added a few new servers to the farm, run them in concert with your legacy equipment so you can fall back on “old reliable” should something go awry with the integration. You also have the option of running your old equipment for a few weeks or longer, and then upgrading later down the road.
Make the Call On Old Hardware
One thing my old lady and I are currently struggling with is whether we should bring our tired old furniture along with us, or replace it with new furniture when we move. IT companies have to make similar decisions regarding their equipment. It can be tough to part with hardware that still works, but more capacity, better performance, and greater reliability may be all the justification you need. If upgrading is a part of the plan, make sure your old equipment is scrubbed clean and properly disposed of to prevent confidential data leaks and avoid potential penalties for e-waste violations in the future.
Pamper Your Hardware
Computers are finicky, often fragile machines. The same is true for routers, peripherals, and other equipment. I guess it’s the whole moving parts thing. Chances are, you’ve got a gaggle of devices to transport, so let’s go over the three basic principles of moving them from point A to point B.
- Back up your files. Backup methods and mediums are abundant. Take your pick and make sure you have copies of every bit of data on every machine you plan to move.
- Shutdown properly. We recently discussed how improper system shutdown is one of the leading causes of data corruption. Whether you’ve got dozens or hundreds of machines, make sure they’re all properly powered off and disconnected from power sources.
- Pack and organize. It would be awesome if you still have the original boxes your equipment was shipped in. Even if you have to resort to substitutes, make sure the hardware is soundly loaded and organized during transit to protect against shifting, and properly labeled so everything is easy to find in the new office.
Keep Downtime to a Minimum
Downtime is the most serious threat to any company, especially when your business is built around delivering around-the-clock availability to the customer. But in a universe called harsh reality, we come to realize that downtime is nearly impossible to avoid when it involves a migration project of this magnitude. This is where it pays to be realistic by determining what you can afford to compromise in service disruptions. It’s also where IT earns its money.
Ideally, you want IT coming together with marketing, accounting, customer service and other internal departments to identify how each system and application should be handled in accordance to the project. For instance, while plugging in your employee collaboration platform may be a priority, it probably doesn’t rank as high on the list as your control panel, billing system, and other customer-facing applications. While some downtime is common amid such projects, it doesn’t have to come at the cost of revenue or the customer experience.
Plan for Continuity
When you move, something will go wrong. Maybe the glass of the portrait you slid between the cabinet and sofa shatters in the back of the moving truck. Or maybe it’s the copier that goes tumbling down the steps after a thumb gets smashed against the wall. A host of unpredictable scenarios lurk and threaten to cause serious disruptions for the company in the middle of a migration project. For the IT service provider on the go, the key is identifying the specific risks of relocating before packing up a single desktop, and devising ways to minimize their damage.
If you already have a business continuity plan in place, now would be the perfect time to revisit it with a special focus on your migration initiative. For instance, if a NAS appliance dies due to bumps and bruises it suffered during the move, IT should be fully briefed on how to proceed with recovering the backup copies, and even inserting an additional storage device in its place if necessary. Depending on how well prepared you are, it may be necessary to make additional IT investments, but charge it all to the cost of moving.
Prepare to Adapt
For a lot of companies, relocating entails running your same operation, more or less, in a different environment. Even when this is the case, there are vital adaptations that need to be made. IT administrators may have to master new management systems. Staff may have to get familiar with new access policies. Security personnel may have to learn the ins and outs of new surveillance technology. A mix of detailed documentation, training sessions, and general dialog will make sure everyone is up to speed with any changes made to business processes and day to day operations in the new location.
A Final Word
Though they may not have to do much heavy lifting, IT needs to be ready to play a huge role in a company’s migration plan. When a USB adapter is misplaced in all the chaos, they should have immediate access to the spare. And when a member of the IT team suddenly falls ill to the flu and can’t participate in the moving project, another teammate must be ready to stand in their place. I’m not saying you’ll avoid every hindrance, but if you can think of something that needs to accounted for, something that could go wrong, put it on the list of obstacles and be ready to knock it down!
Photo Credit: Hajime NAKANO via Flickr