Key steps for successful IT infrastructure migration

Nowadays, a high-performance IT infrastructure is essential for a company’s competitiveness.

More than ever before, it must meet the demands of digitalisation, data explosion and evolving professions, uses and constraints of all kinds.

Whether it is a question of modernising your installation, updating software, relocating all services to a new hosting site or even changing hosts, it is often necessary to migrate IT infrastructure. This cannot be improvised.

The main steps to follow for a successful IT infrastructure migration

As French philosopher Maurice Blondel once said, “the future cannot be foreseen, it must be anticipated”. Thus, the secret to a successful migration can be summed up in one word: PREPARATION!

By following each of the 8 major pre-migration steps, the company minimises its risks of data loss, service interruption, time and budget overruns.

  1. Build project team and governance: ahead of the process, it is necessary to identify an employee responsible for the project who will be assisted by a team (key user, system manager, consultant, functional project manager, technical architect, etc.) with the knowledge and skills required for the project to run smoothly.

  2. Study existing system: this audit phase is essential to ensure that the migration scope is clearly defined and that no service or component of the infrastructure is forgotten. It includes a review of the IT system urbanisation, mapping of the various applications and configurations, as well as exhaustive inventories of the physical and network elements making up the platform.

  3. Visualise/arbitrate/evaluate: an important stage during which a decision must be made to renew, rationalise, and optimise equipment and decommission obsolete or useless services.. It is also an opportunity to check the integrity of the various data repositories and to update them if necessary.

  4. Schedule: this involves setting up reverse scheduling for all the operations to be carried out and services to be transferred, indicating the deadlines and the migration strategy — in one go (big-bang migration) or in several phases (incremental data migration). The project manager must begin by taking into account business and technical requirements. For example, this may involve choosing to migrate over a weekend to limit the unavailability of services to users. All these organised actions then constitute the cutover plan or migration plan. It will be the reference for the whole project team and will allow the monitoring of progress against the set objectives, ensuring communication between the different stakeholders, monitoring and reporting the activities.

  5. Choose the right partners: many providers offer services to support this type of project. Consultants, data center transfer or IT relocation specialists, data center technicians and colocation hosting providers can offer their expertise and support the project team with real added value.

  6. Prepare the new hosting environment: a necessary step to accommodate the entire IT infrastructure on the day of the switchover. The target racks for electricity and air conditioning, network distribution and cabling, physical security (CCTV, access control) and the deployment of the various operators (MPLS, IP transit, etc.) are installed beforehand.

  7. Make a risk management plan: this step is essential for identifying risks and especially for limiting their probability and impact by implementing action plans. Some of the actions to be anticipated ahead of migration include: providing spare hardware (storing functional hardware to be used as back-up in case of failure), carrying out preventive booting, respecting cooling down times, establishing a data backup and security policy before the relocation, managing the transfer of changes to the platform as well as audits and inventories, providing additional resources if a rotation of teams is necessary, as well as a reversion plan.

  8. Get the word out: Give meaning to the project by explaining to all the company’s employees what the motivations are, and the benefits created. If the migration generates changes for the users, the project team can organise training, prepare written materials or user guides…

Migration of the IT infrastructure: GO!

The moment to switch from the old hosting site to the new one has arrived!

The last back-ups and checks have been carried out, the migration can now begin: services have been stopped, the equipment has been de-racked and packed for transport. The pre-migration phase having been scrupulously prepared, each piece of equipment will quickly find its place and connections in the new environment. Once the IT infrastructure has been relocated and restarted in the new hosting, it is time for acceptance and control tests to ensure that the services are accessible and functional again.

Post-migration

Once the migration is complete and operational, the manager must quickly assess the situation with the migration project team by carrying out a “Post Implementation Review” and a “Lessons Learned” session, which will provide key takeaways. Are the expected benefits in place? Have all the risks been anticipated? Are the users satisfied? This feedback will shed light on how to optimise any new migration, either within the framework of the current project or for any future new contractual project. Possible errors can be avoided and good practices reused.