Moving Enterprises to the Public or Hybrid Cloud (Part 6 of 12)


Post number 6 in a series of 12 from one of our provider partners, NTT.

There are very few things that are as complex and costly as moving datacenters. There are numerous reasons why an organization may be doing this. They may be consolidating divisions, selling off assets, centralizing infrastructure, running out of space or power, there may be a termination of lease on buildings and equipment, etc. Many of the business reasons for creating the change don’t look at the full cost of the change on people, resources and infrastructure. There is an excellent eWeek article written by Kris Domich about what is involved in moving datacenters. In it he states “Frankly, physical logistics involves both art and science; planning is all science. You must know the implication of removing any cable, network device, server, storage volume, database, application, service or person within your core business during your move.”

So if you are large business (or any business for that matter) you need to recognize when you need to relocate, and determine where to go. Every facility has a maximum capacity potential. So when do you know it is time to move?

  • While infrastructure optimization will maximize the useful life of the facility, you may still run out of
    acceptable headroom
  • A move can be prompted by Physics, Public Utility Availability, Geographical Threats, Lack of
    Concurrent Maintainability
  • Maybe it’s just time to consolidate!

Once you have decided that you have to move, the typical options include:
Internal facility
– Are you in the business of running data centers?
Retail Colocation Provider
– Can they handle your specific power density today – 12/24/beyond?
Cloud Provider
– All the benefits of ownership with shared management and operations
Tenant Improvement Build out (such as Digital Realty Trust)
– Reduced acquisition time, amortized build out costs, custom spec
Cloud Provider
– All the benefits of shared management and operations without the hassle of ownership

Whichever method you choose, you will still need to move your data. There are several methodologies for moving infrastructure. In Kris Domich’s eWeek article, he mentions three different methodologies:
1. The lift and shift
“The simplest, the lift and shift, involves taking a verified, successful backup of a system, powering it down, moving it and powering it back up.”
2. The swing move
“Another, more complex method is the swing move. This method entails setting up temporary systems at the target site and replicating data to those systems in order to shift an application or service to the target site quickly—and then powering down and relocating the equipment from the source site.
The temporary equipment is retired once the service or application is again running on its original equipment. This method is commonly used when the time it takes to physically relocate a system exceeds the organization’s tolerance for downtime of the application or service.”
3. The logical move
“Another method that is gaining widespread popularity is the logical move, which does not involve physically relocating any assets. Logical moves are used for existing virtual machines or as an opportunity to migrate physical systems to virtual platforms. Many organizations find that data center relocation creates opportunities to gain increased efficiencies such as those that come from consolidating physical systems.”

There are also “upgrade” migrations where some components are upgraded during the migration. Most migrations include an application justification and sometimes consolidation to virtualized resources. Each migration carries and enormous amount of risk to the business. In most migrations, the entire networking infrastructure needed to be replaced so an environment can be run in parallel. Some storage and servers also need to be duplicated so applications can move to a new location.

  • Services offered by cloud providers can provide various options that can help with data center moves and consolidations. Some the main benefits include:
  • Elimination of build-out cost. This investment is significant in a datacenter move. Getting the space ready for bringing in new equipment can be one of the most expensive parts of the exercise.
  • Migration testing environments. Cloud providers can help you if you are moving and need to test out new domain names, IP addressing schemes or even a newly virtualized application.
  • Elimination of site selection. Finding an appropriate Colocation facility or acceptable space in your own environment will take time and engineering resources. It may be wise to look at a cloud provider like NTT that can also provide colocation space in case you want to have a mixed environment.
  • Reduced need to purchase and configure networking gear. Most of the networking gear will be in place at the cloud provider. One caveat that I would make here is that cloud providers typically have limitations on what they are able to do from an IP address standpoint, so there may be some network reconfiguration that would need to be done on your systems. You will need to check to verify that this wouldn’t change any applications.
  • Swing space. Many vendors want to sell you new gear during a move. There is a category of vendors that can lease you equipment for the duration of the move. Cloud providers can be a quick alternative to having to lease new equipment. Just make sure you test your process for migration.
  • Permanent movement to the cloud. If you move to cloud space on a more permanent basis, you reduce and potentially eliminate the need to execute additional moves in the future. Unless you are displeased with you cloud provider, all subsequent moves to new hardware and platforms become the responsibility of the cloud provider.
  • Hybrid approach – As I mentioned earlier, having a cloud provider that can offer co-lo space for you to move your hardware may give you the best of both worlds.

If you are working for a large organization, there is a high probability that if you haven’t consolidated or moved you infrastructure, you will. “More than half of the data centers I have seen relocated in the past two years are facilities that are seven to ten years old. The typical planning horizon for a commercial building is twenty years. Today’s equipment power densities were not considered seven to ten years ago.” (Domich, eWeek)

If you are evaluating a datacenter move, it may make sense to look at your options from a cloud vendor.


Next Post: Moving Enterprises to a Public or Hybrid Cloud Part 7- Mergers, Acquisitions and Spinoffs

Contact StrataCore to learn more about NTT America Cloud services (206) 686-3211


About the author: Ladd Wimmer

Ladd Wimmer is a valuable member of the NTT Communications team. He has over 15 years of experience implementing, architecting, and supporting enterprise servers, storage and virtualization solutions in a variety of IT computing and service provider environments. He worked as Systems Engineer/Solution Architect in the Data Center Solutions practice of Dimension Data, most recently serving as technical lead for the roll out of Cisco’s UCS and VCE vBlock platforms across the Dimension Data customer base. Ladd has also run two IBM partner lab environments and worked for an early SaaS provider that created lab environments for Sales, QA testing and Training.


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