A Small Business Guide on How to Move Data to a Data Centre
David Barker looks at the reasons small businesses might want to use a data centre
Data centre migrations are not something anyone should take for granted. A poorly planned and executed move can leave lasting damage, including unexpected downtime with interruption to sales, not to mention dissatisfied customers.
So, why move?
This is probably the most important question for SMEs that have grown to a point where they either have a server room in-house, or a large number of desktops, all stuffed full of data.
Most companies introduce in-house IT infrastructure and systems as they grow and might continue on an “add-as-you-need basis” for years. If you’re starting to experience unreliability in the uptime of the equipment, or are questioning the reliability of your connectivity (broadband), then moving to a data centre may well be a better option.
How do you move?
Many who move to a data centre will have to make a choice between moving old equipment, or buying in new kit and then migrating data across the two environments.
One of 4D’s customers is a specialist hosting agency called Wirehive; it has a client (a large London marketing agency) which was concerned about the security and reliability associated with keeping its IT equipment in-house. So the agency decided to move its servers into a data centre. Wirehive opted for a brand new build within our Surrey data centre and performed a series of zero downtime migrations. For the end-client this means that it now has peace of mind regarding the security of its data, as well as the benefit of new equipment that allows it to scale for future demand.
Benefits of moving
- Guaranteed uptime – Once moved, the instant benefit is the uptime guarantee. By using a data centre, you will have a service level agreement that guarantees you a level of uptime for network and power services. This means that even if your office broadband goes down and you have to move your workforce to alternative locations, they can still access your IT systems at the data centre.
- Flexible working locations – Using a data centre enables you to offer home-working to staff if you want to. More flexible working conditions are attractive to existing staff, as well as giving you an edge for recruiting in future.
- More office space – In-house servers take up lots of space, so the freed-up area may mean you don’t have to move into a bigger office as quickly as you thought. In the case of Wirehive, its client gained 25m2 by migrating to 4D Surrey.
- Reduced staffing – Your requirements in terms of IT maintenance could well be reduced, thus cutting down on your staffing cost in this area, or your third party contractors. Wirehive found that it now needs fewer IT maintenance staff.
- Risk reduction – The peace of mind achieved by migrating to a data centre is the icing on the cake for many and comes from knowing that your equipment is protected by multi-level security, running happily in a controlled environment with an SLA for power and connectivity, is safe from fires and floods, and protected against theft and damage.
Tips for migration without pain
- Set objectives – Make sure you’re clear on why you’re moving to a data centre. Otherwise you will spend time and money and not be able to report back on whether you have achieved what you set out to do.
- Plan – Consider every scenario and have a solution, plus a plan B. Make sure that there are lots of backups, so if equipment fails there is always an alternative.
- Time it carefully – It’s sensible to migrate while your staff and clients aren’t working, but check that the data centre engineers and other support staff will be available.
- Communicate with customers – Before and during the migration it is vital to communicate with your own customers honestly, clearly and accurately. Tell them when you will be offline and how long for. Update them regularly via a status report on your site, via Twitter and/or emails.
- Communicate with staff – Make sure that employees feel comfortable about the move. Talk to them about back-up plans and alternative arrangements, so if the worst happens they still feel confident and informed, and can assist customers effectively.