Data Center Migration: Scrum, Agile, Kanban: What is your favorite tool to use?

Is your business entering into maturity phase in its I.T. operations? Are your capacity planning strategies being put to waste?  Are there storage, server, switches coming in than what can be accommodated in current IT room where it is  filled to capacity? A data center migration can be a solution for you . Moving your hardware and all of its data into a data center can provide the architecture, flexibility, and support structure to accomodate your growing business and computing needs. Data center can be consolidate, relocated, co-located, or can be built from the ground up (build out).  And regardless of what the type of Data Center migration suites your need the success of your data center migration will depends on your organization’s  readiness to plan, validate, execute and support the different activities that happens during a data center migration. Steps to data center migration is linear, meaning  that the process of moving to the new data center follows a chronological order, Initiation, Risk Assessment, Planning, Execution, and Closure. The Kanban system which was developed in 1953 by Toyota engineer Taiichi Ohno is “setup much like a factory floor, where a part might start out as a piece of metal and then, one step at a time, is turned into a finished part through a series of steps.” As you go through the different stages in your Data Center Migration you can see that Risk Assessment, and Planning are two steps within migration that can be split into separate projects each with its own team, and deliverable. For this reason Risk Assessment, and planning phase can benefit from Scrum framework of data migration, whereas the Data Center Migration as a whole because of its defined stages  will best benefit from the Kanban system “Scrum-ban” to denote the application of Kanban to an existing Scrum process. As a sidenote, I started googling the word Scrum-ban while doing this my research for this blog and alas I have found that this term to have been legitimately used which the Data Center circle and Information Technology realm. Here is a link to the Scrum-ban discussion if you happen to not believe me. Distraction aside , my aim for this blog to decipher some of the mysteries associated with data center migration strategies and present benefits of Kanban, and Scrum, and Agile as viable methods to use on your during Data Center Migration projects.

Set a tempo at the beginning of the project by identifying milestone that will dictate the flow of your migration. Identify reasons for doing the migration: the costs, equipment reduction,  maintenance automation and patching, economies of  scale, less infrastructure redundancy, eliminate single point of failure, etc. Once you have identified your “why”  anticipate the impact to the business if  data center migration project is approved, not approved, delayed, and failed.  Assign accountability team that will break down workload and will execute on project plans. Identify who are potentially heavy users of the system. A lot of time the heavy users of the system have the most to lose (or gain) and therefore will give your project the most buy-in during pivotal decision making rounds so make sure to include this individuals as stakeholders early in the process.

After initiation comes risk assessment.  During discovery phase ask these three question. (1) what key business objectives must be fulfilled during data center migration project? Be on the know and interview your business leaders. Get a detailed evaluation or audit of what needs to be moved, when and how. (2) what risks are you exposing the business during this transition and do you have actions plans to mitigate against those risks? Part of the risk assessment exercise is to take a look at applications, network requirements, and dependencies and look at the business impact if applications fail to migrate correctly. (3) what business continuity risks are you exposing your customers once they learn of the potential downtime that they may experience because of this move? It is important to have a solid execution plans and having staff that is well-trained in dealing downtime scenario and as well as other contingencies that may arise.

After risk assessment comes the planning.  The first step of planning is determining what migration type you will use in your data center migration project. Are you going to consolidate, virtualize, modernize, lift and shift (forklift), or use swing  migration? Once you’ve figured out which of the migration techniques you will use create a “move group” and bundle equipment based on commonalties such as data dependencies, software dependencies, latency requirements, bandwidth and performance requirements. 2nd step of planning is to create test plans, and execute against them prior to running migration. Take note of issues as your running your test plans and document these issues as “pre-migration” jitter, not to be attributed to the post migration environment. Results of your test plans can be used for pre- and post-migration benchmarking and use these results as a quantitative proof of success or of failure of the migration.  A third but no less important step in planning is to ask this question, type of data center would you like to pursue. Are you building your data center In-house, buying a Colocation service, or migrating everything to the cloud?

Execution process can be completed over a weekend or over a span of few weeks as much as 18 weeks for large migration with multiple location. Your best migration methodologies include preparing a pre-migration testing of your move groups. Applications with less system and hardware dependencies are general easier to migrate and such be prioritized for migration. In contrast application with heavy dependencies such as a data base application that contain loads of data must be migrated on a later schedule.

At the end  of the migration project is the closure or the clean phase. Do not forget to cancel legacy equipment contracts that are no longer needed. If you are moving from an old facility to a new facility check for vendor requirements and make sure to stay in compliance with building management and anticipate any issues from may hinder your move from old facility to new facility. Closing phase should happen be relatively fast compared to the other migration phases and site clean-up is prompt and complete addressing the disposal of old assets, packing and shipping of new hardware to new location, canceling of old vendor contract for building management, supplies vendor, and maintenance services. At a high level, these are all the issues to be aware of to have a successful data center migration. Having in place proper team and acquiring the technical know-how (and seeking help from experts and migration specialist) will create the impact that your seeking out of well executed data center migration. Your tactical team and strategic teams should make the migration strategies for your business having your business objectives aligned with your migration strategies.  An end to end migration that is well executed should have a lasting effect to making your IT operations succeed in the years ahead and being able to incorporated best in practice IT operations that is more scalable to meet your business needs.

9 thoughts on “Data Center Migration: Scrum, Agile, Kanban: What is your favorite tool to use?”

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