Colocation Moves: 9 Common Mistakes to Avoid

AFCOM colocation move best practices panel

Last Thursday, Houston area data center professionals assembled on the club level of the University of Houston’s TDECU stadium for AFCOM’s Houston chapter meeting to hear a panel of local data center experts discuss The Good, Bad and the Ugly: Best Practices for a Successful Colocation Move. On the panel was Data Foundry’s Houston Network Operations Manager (NOC), Joshua Acevedo, to impart his data center migration expertise.

The key to a successful colocation move is planning ahead. Most of the time, companies compile a comprehensive inventory list to pass on to their colocation provider in advance. However, in our experience, many think they have thoroughly plotted out their move when important tasks have been overlooked. The devil is in the details.

Here are 9 common mistakes to avoid when planning a colocation move:

1. Forgetting to Measure Doors and Exits

As Data Foundry’s NOC Manager Joshua Acevedo says, “People will have compiled their complete inventory list that includes the size and weight of each item, but they will often forget to measure their doors.” Data centers are built to accommodate the movement of IT equipment, but customers often forget to review the logistical details of moving out of their original facility. People expect that what went in must come out, but it’s possible that infrastructure has changed since equipment was initially installed. Also, keep in mind the dimensions of the cargo trailer and the size of its door, through which your equipment must pass when it is loaded.

2. Not Defining Team Tasks

Another common mistake — and one that begins with the best of intentions — is when a company sends a team of 20 or more individuals to help with a move. Space requirements may limit the number of people who can efficiently work on a deployment, causing some members to stand around idly with nothing to do. It’s great to have all hands on deck to help with a move, but be sure to assign tasks beforehand and determine the right number of people for the migration. Depending on the size of your deployment, not everyone can fit inside the cage or colocation space to work effectively, so plan accordingly.

3. Rushing the Deployment Schedule

The idea of unplugging equipment that has been sitting in the same room for years, loading it onto a truck and moving to another facility can be unnerving. The task itself is also daunting and comes with an extensive to-do list. So, what is the best time frame for planning a successful migration? Experts on the AFCOM panel recommended a 21 to 30-day time frame for completing a data center migration. While panelists admitted migrations have been done within a week, and even within as few as 24 hours, this is the exception and not the rule. Rushing should be avoided at all costs. The majority of migrations are done on weekends to ensure equipment is running optimally for Monday morning.

4. Forgetting to Order Point-to-Point Circuits

People who are familiar with data center migrations and colocation moves know that ordering point-to-point circuits usually takes 30 days or more. In some rare cases, it can take up to 120 days. Whether you choose to order point-to-point circuits yourself, or you want your colocation provider to proactively set it up, it’s advisable to make this decision as soon as possible and order the service.

5. Not Assessing Power Receptacle Compatibility

Most U.S. server plugs are NEMA-5 or NEMA-6 series plugs, and there are several options within each of these categories. Be sure the data center you choose for colocation knows what types of power receptacles you need beforehand. This will save valuable time on the day of the move.

6. Ignoring Network Media

If you are doing any equipment refreshes or you wish to make your network more efficient, you may want to upgrade your network media in your new deployment. Your new colocation provider’s infrastructure team can help you choose the right copper or fiber option for your application. Make sure all materials are ordered and ready before your move.

7. Inadequate Spacial Planning

Many people fail to accurately gauge the space in their new deployment. Will you be using new server racks or cabinets in the new location? Be sure you know the size of the new cabinets, how your equipment will fit in them and the amount of white floor space they will occupy.

8. Forgetting Security Credentials

Most data centers have strict security policies that require anyone who enters the facility to be registered with security beforehand. They will also require identification from everyone when checking in. Make sure your team has registered with security before the day of the move or arrives ahead of time to do so, and remind everyone to bring identification to enter the data center.

9. Not Utilizing Data Center Staff

If your company is like most, you don’t have staff that deals solely with infrastructure installation. Don’t put all the pressure on your network team to move your equipment and ensure that it’s properly installed. Data center staff like Data Foundry’s have been specializing in infrastructure installations for decades, and we can help plan your migration to ensure that it is setup according to best practices for efficiency and scalability. Data Foundry also assigns a dedicated project manager for each migration to assist our customers from the beginning of the planning phase to project completion.

Want more helpful information to get you through a data center migration? Download our Data Center Migration Checklist, compiled by our migration experts.

Do you have questions about a colocation move? Contact one of our infrastructure experts to learn more.