It can be tempting to make improvements to the design and service model of you data center during a migration. It’s a fine line between data center migrations and data center transformations. Both carry different business goals and risk profiles. It’s important to understand which project you are undertaking.

There’s a difference between relocating your data center and transforming your IT operations. Several factors drive data center relocations or consolidations. Relocation factors include lack of capacity in an existing data center or a merger or divestiture. During these types of projects, the primary goal is to migrate services from one physical location to another. Some practical design changes might be considered such as selecting a new IP address scheme or moving to a new storage or compute platform. It’s important to not take on transformation-like activities that can distract from the business goal of migrating services. For example, the temptation may be to go from a physical platform to a virtual platform (P2V).

It makes sense from a technical perspective. Many physical-to-physical (P2P) migration tools also provide the P2V capability. The amount of work to perform a P2V may be less than that to perform a P2P. However, the technical work of migration is a small portion of the actual challenge. While migrating a few workloads from physical to virtual may not be an issue, switching to a support model based on a virtual infrastructure is a bigger challenge. In addition to focusing on a successful migration process, organization have to ensure a transitiona to tools and processes supporting virtualization.

I’ve seen these types of small transformations stack up to impact the perception of the migration project. While all services may get migrated, service interruptions or service levels may be impacted. The source of the interruptions and service delays is a common lack of focus on the operations side of the house. Data center migrations and transformations can be successful. The key is to approach the project as a transformation versus a migration. A transformation has different business drivers than a migration. Transformations offer business value in the form of cost savings or capability.

Taking the P2V example again, the business outcome may be the capability to quickly provision servers driven by dynamic business growth. As part of the transformation plan and budget, a decision to migrate to a new data center may be part of the project’s scope. As such, all of the migration planning and operations tools will be included.

The bottom line is to apply the necessary discipline when overseeing a migration. You must ensure that changes in technology during migrations are in alignment with your existing operations. A good validation is to ask the question, what business goal does the activity support. If you are meeting a business goal that wasn’t defined, then you may be dealing with scope creep and adding to the project’s risks. If you are beyond the scope of migration then what’s the true cost to the business?

Migration vs. Transformation – Know which project you are running
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