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SmartAdvice: Telecommuting A Boon With Proper Safeguards And Training

Make telecommuting a privilege and focus on training and security for a successful experience, The Advisory Council says. Also, look for range of services and experience from a data-center-relocation services provider.

Question B: How should we approach selection of a data-center-relocation service provider?

Our advice: Relocation of a data center is a complex project which requires months of planning. The interdependencies among tasks, the need for continuous operations, and coordination among multiple service providers are some of the major considerations. Selecting a relocation partner requires an evaluation of experience and ability to execute. Minor problems are bound to come up during such a move; the vendor with the necessary expertise would have backup equipment and technical expertise at hand to resolve any problems.

Decision Drivers
Data and applications are among the most valuable assets in an organization. Relocation of these assets exposes them to multiple risks of loss. Any one of these risks can introduce a failure, requiring analysis and preparation.

Most data-center relocations activities fall into two main categories:

  • Migration of data and applications to new equipment in a different location
  • Migration of hardware to a different location

Typically, relocation involves some level of both activities. Data centers rarely have homogeneous equipment, operating systems, or services. The primary service provider will have to subcontract to several different vendors. The primary choice should be determined by the prior experience of the vendor with the primary equipment and applications in the data center. Selection of a relocation service provider also depends on the level of service continuity that's required.

Migration of data and applications to new equipment is typically less risky, since it offers an opportunity to field test the new equipment and applications, and offers a natural environment for fall-back in case of a major problem. This kind of relocation requires expertise in redundancy, applications, and data mapping.

Migration of hardware requires a depth of support available from the vendor so that in case of major failures a quick replacement, technical assistance, and re-constitution of a system or application are available.

The primary migration vendor should have strengths in many facets, including:

  • Project planning and management
  • Relationships with other vendors
  • Ability to manage subcontractor services
  • Ability to evaluate and understand current equipment configurations and future needs
  • Ability to prepare new site and clean up old site
  • Electrical de-installation and installation of equipment
  • Ability for removal and EPA certifications for hazardous material disposal
  • Ability to install, engineer, or furnish new equipment
  • Ability to store and bring spare parts and/or replacement equipment quickly
  • Technical expertise in the network, hardware, storage, operating systems, database, and applications currently in use
  • Experienced relationship with an electronic equipment shipper
  • Ability to plan for contingencies
  • Ability to provide a disaster-recovery site for mission-critical applications which need to be available around the clock
  • Ability to provide a "swing site", if there's a need for interim operations

Data-center relocation is an activity that has to be done right in a very short time frame. The complexity and risks of such a migration require detailed planning and management. To accomplish a successful migration, it's essential to select an experienced relocation service provider.

-- Humayun Beg

Beth Cohen, TAC Thought Leader, has more than 20 years of experience building strong IT-delivery organizations from user and vendor perspectives. Having worked as a technologist for BBN, the company that literally invented the Internet, she not only knows where technology is today but where it's heading in the future.

Humayun Beg, TAC Thought Leader, has more than 20 years of experience in business IT management, technology deployment, and risk management. He has significant experience in all aspects of systems management, software development, and project management, and has held key positions in directing major IT initiatives and projects.

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