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Data Center Relocation

  • May 01 2004, 1:00am EDT

Knowing How Will Save You Time and Money

Are you outgrowing your data center? Is it time to rebuild, acquire more space or upgrade your technology? If you answered yes to these questions, you may be considering a relocation effort to a newer, state-of-the-art facility.

Relocation projects are taking place more frequently. From a business management standpoint, relocation may be your best option. Successful data center relocation, however, demands much more than just good packing and efficient wiring. Rather, this lofty endeavor is an exercise in the importance of good project management, and certain considerations and tactics should be explored well before the U-Haul is rented.

First, site selection is key. If you move your data center to a new facility, make sure it is in a standalone structure for security and convenience purposes. If you share space with other companies, your facility runs the risk of being compromised by others' substandard safety precautions.

If you are leasing space, inspect and document all equipment and application software inventories, data telecommunications and network environments. System inventories and requirements need to be established to develop a design and moving plan that will minimize time and effort. Even better? Avoid leasing altogether. Cut out the middleman and buy your own facility. Ownership of the property is crucial to timely resolution of environmental issues.

Site selection also involves the determination of geographic risk, which is particularly important if you're building a new facility. A preconstruction risk analysis of the land establishes natural disaster frequency (particularly for floods, earthquakes and tornadoes), ensuring that you are selecting a safe location. Building a facility on its own land, providing a perimeter fence and prohibiting the use of any distinguishing signs outside that identify the structure as a "data center" are also practices that reinforce security measures.

A 10-year power forecast is also essential when sizing a facility. If a facility outgrows power in a short amount of time, it can cost the company millions of dollars.

"You need to look at growth because you only want to do this once," claims Hank Fitchett, IT operations manager for Idaho Power Company. "A data center facility requires a redundant power system with two UPSs, two generators and a utility feed. If a power upgrade is required for a live data center, hire an engineer who specializes in data center power."

Specialized data center architects, electrical engineers and a general contractor are crucial to a smooth transition into a new facility. The architects and engineers will design and lay out the new facility, including hardware locations, electrical requirements and communication infrastructure specifically designed to meet the needs of the data center. Such expertise is invaluable, as you'll minimize errors and the necessity for modifications.

Most importantly, before planning a data center move, make sure all parties are on the same page. You need support and agreement from management because they provide the resources necessary to complete the project; you need a dedicated project team to work with you from start to finish; and you need the reinforcements of the real estate team, IT operations, human resources and the on-site construction workers. Get to know everyone on a one-on-one basis, and stay involved in the decision-making process.

These guidelines will help minimize stress, prevent many "rookie" mistakes and aid in an efficient changeover to your new data center.

Thank you to Hank Fitchett, IT operations manager at Idaho Power Company, Lynn Hartman of Mattel, Inc. and Bill Mazzetti of Mazzetti & Associates for contributing their experiences after recent data center moves.

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