How to Move a Data Center in 35 Days – Week One

  Data processing center, pt. 5

Part of the Enterasys IT staff’s annual plan in 2008 was to consolidate our data centers into several strategic locations. The reasons for this consolidation included a need to reduce costs associated with multiple locations, as well as a company-wide campaign to reduce energy consumption. The Enterasys data center site in Boston cost more than $600,000 to maintain, and with another location just 30 miles away in Andover, it no longer made sense. Our original plan was to move the data center to our Andover headquarters by the end of the year. However, anyone in IT knows that all plans have changes, and we received a request to ‘accelerate’ the move. The new plan was to move the entire center in less than 45 days!

We started by engaging our IT operations team. After much discussion, we realized that the space we had available in Andover was much smaller than what we currently had in Boston. The only way to make the move work was to virtualize as many systems as possible to reduce the footprint. But space wasn’t our only roadblock: we also needed to ensure that we would have enough power in the building to support this data center move.

At our weekly staff meeting, we discussed the project with our entire IT staff. That discussion generated the following initial list of questions.

   1. Power

      a. Can we get a 200amp temporary home service from National Grid?

      b. Can we get a power audit to see what we really use for power in Boston?

      c. How much power would we save by switching 21″ CRTs to LCD monitors?

   2. Racks

      a. Do we need new racks, or can we move the existing ones?

      b. Can we fit the Boston servers in existing racks in Andover?

   3. Network

      a. Do we need additional network gear – and can we order and receive it in time to pre-stage in Andover?

      b. How can we split subnets across the WAN?

   4. Backups

      a. Can we import our existing catalog?

      b. Should we keep the existing gear, or replace?

      c. Do we need to have our backup vendor schedule pickups in Andover instead of Boston?

   5. Storage

      a. Do we have time to finish migrating from fiber channel to iSCSI?

      b. Can we get our storage vendor to help us move?

      c. Are we still under maintenance with the storage gear?

   6. Space

      a. Can we free up enough space in the MDF?

      b. Can we retire or consolidate any engineering servers or network gear?

   7. AC

      a. Can we get the new AC units installed and running in time?

      b. Can we get temporary units in place and powered?

      c. How much can we save on cooling costs by opting for virtualization of some of our servers?

   8. Move

      a. Are people available to move in March?

      b. Will Enterasys be willing to move the last month of the quarter?

      c. What trucking company should we use?

      d. Do we need to insure the equipment?

   9. Alternate data center facilities

      a. Get quotes from three other data centers for short term space leases, just in case.

We started by requesting that everyone update their availability in Outlook for the rest of the month. This allowed us to plan the move appropriately. With some juggling of tasks, we were able to assemble a master calendar that didn’t affect key IT projects for the month.

We discussed our power options with our electrical contractors. After consulting with them, we learned that we would, in fact, have sufficient power — until the summer heat kicked in. We also determined that we had another requirement to meet: we would need to run our current AC systems at 100% until the additional AC systems could be added. We sure had our challenges– and not a lot of wiggle room!

The storage team decided on leaving three iSCSI storage nodes with some VMWare servers at the Boston facility, and to replicate the iSCSI nodes from Boston to Andover to make it easier to move the virtual images.

Our applications team reviewed the move plans and made recommendations to start work on the test, mitigation and backup plans. Each application was assigned a priority (A,B,C) which defined how much documentation and support we needed for the move weekend. We also developed a schedule for applications that would be moved each weekend.

 In our next blog entry, we’ll talk about planning for the move, some of the details of laying out the new data center, inventorying the systems and planning the virtualization of our core systems.

With all this work and investment, we also developed a case study with our server and storage partner, Dell.

NetHawk Interactive provides white papers and webcasts about virtualization. Learn more...

Mark Townsend

About Mark Townsend

Mark Townsend's career has spanned the past two decades in computer networking, during which he has contributed to several patents and pending patents in information security. He has established himself as an expert related to networking and security in enterprise networks, with a focus on educational environments. Mark is a contributing member to several information security industry standards associations, most notably the Trusted Computing Group (TCG). Townsend's work in the TCG Trusted Network Connect (TNC) working group includes co-authoring the Clientless Endpoint Support Profile. Townsend is currently developing virtualization solutions and driving interoperability testing within the industry. Prior to his current position, he has served in a variety of roles including service and support, marketing, sales management and business development. He is considered an industry expert and often lectures at universities and industry events, including RSA and Interop. Mark is also leveraging his background and serving his community as Chairman of the local school board, a progressive school district consistently ranked in the top school districts of New Hampshire, with the district high school ranked as a "Best High School" by US News & World Report.

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One Response to How to Move a Data Center in 35 Days – Week One

  1. MB70 July 1, 2009 at 11:08 am #

    This is very helpful. I think a lot of the tech publications gloss over the logistics of physically moving a data center for a virtualization project. Sometimes that can be the most difficult part.

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