6 Best Practices for Data Center Migrations

Data center migrations are complex, but with the right planning, expertise and digital infrastructure services, yours can be seamless

Bryson Hopkins
Kunal Handa
6 Best Practices for Data Center Migrations

Cloud services have become foundational to growth in the digital economy—making cloud migration plans a high priority for many organizations. According to the Equinix 2022 Global Tech Trends Survey, 71% of IT decision-makers plan to move more functions to the cloud in the next 12 months. While hybrid cloud has become the most common deployment approach, the hybrid model of physical and virtual infrastructure presents IT teams with complex decisions around what systems and applications to migrate to cloud, as well as where to strategically place mission-critical workloads today and in the future.

Data center migrations are particularly difficult because of their immense scale and complexity, plus the critical need to minimize downtime. And because such moves happen infrequently, many companies may not have in-house data center migration expertise. Working with a partner that provides global data center, interconnection and digital services, along with data center migration expertise, can help you make the right decisions on what to move and where. For example, you might be wondering how to best ensure a seamless migration of on-premises applications to the cloud.

In this post, we’ll cover some tips and best practices to support a smooth and efficient data center migration.

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Choose what workloads to move and when to move them

Some enterprise workloads need to remain on-premises due to performance, security concerns, regulatory requirements or cost. At the same time, companies still have many workloads they want to migrate to cloud to enable better performance, speed and flexibility. According to the Equinix Global Tech Trends Survey, 65% of IT decision-makers plan to move databases to cloud, 52% intend to move productivity tools and 50% plan to move business-critical applications.

Only you can determine what is most advantageous to move, but here are some considerations:

  • Do you have data center or equipment contracts that are becoming too costly or coming to an end soon?
  • Do you have vendor relationships that are no longer meeting your business needs or supply chain issues that are slowing your progress?
  • Are you not currently in optimal locations, such as cloud-rich metros where you have the most connectivity options?
  • Are you shifting to a digital-first infrastructure?

All these considerations should factor into data center migration decisions.

Create a migration plan to prevent roadblocks

Once you’ve determined what equipment and workloads your organization wants to migrate, you need a migration plan that covers things like architecture design, network and capacity planning, and selecting the best global locations that give you access to the right clouds, network service providers and partners. A migration plan needs to take your current and desired future state into consideration, along with potential risks and timelines for implementation. A good data center migration strategy will help you address these concerns and prevent any potential roadblocks. It also may be useful to work with experienced migration specialists as you develop and execute your migration plan.

Make flexibility a priority so you can get where you need to go quickly

The pandemic and other recent global events have both accelerated and thwarted companies’ digital transformation strategies. Ongoing hardware shortages and shipping delays can complicate time-sensitive migration plans. The chip shortage, for example, has made hardware supply acquisition more difficult, increasing the appeal of virtual infrastructure solutions and on-demand infrastructure. These challenges and delays validate how essential flexibility is in IT transformation projects.

Whether you’re migrating an on-premises data center to the cloud or moving or consolidating your data centers to a colocation provider, you need a flexible digital infrastructure that allows you to move workloads when and where you need them. Location selection plays a pivotal role in performance and cost, so it pays off to choose your data center location carefully. With 240+ data centers around the world, Platform Equinix® allows you to place infrastructure where you need it and size up or down as needed.

Interconnection also supports the priority of flexibility. Software-defined interconnection services like Equinix Fabric™ help companies connect their physical and digital infrastructure and services on demand at software speed.

Take advantage of edge services to optimize deployment speed and costs

Today, more and more companies are transitioning to virtual networks. A study of 100 global IT executives conducted by Pulse and Equinix found that 79% of organizations are planning to transition more than a quarter of their physical network to a virtual network in the next 12 to 18 months. As you plan your data center migration, consider taking advantage of edge services, virtual networking and bare metal to give you an agile digital infrastructure more quickly and for less cost than physical equipment.

Most organizations have existing relationships with network vendors and want to continue using those vendors and their licensing agreements. For these companies, virtual networking solutions are appealing since they enable you to keep existing relationships and quickly deploy a variety of virtual networking services (i.e., SD-WAN gateways, cloud routers, VPNs, firewalls, etc.). On Platform Equinix, the business maintains ultimate flexibility to mix and match Virtual Network Functions (VNFs) and access to cloud on-ramps as needed. With Network Edge and Equinix Fabric, you can select and deploy virtual network devices and high-speed virtual connections to clouds within minutes—without purchasing physical hardware. And if the time comes when physical devices are needed, you can scale down your virtual network devices and connections on-demand.

In additional to software-defined interconnection services, you can also harness the power of Bare Metal as a Service (BMaaS) with Equinix Metal™. An automated, interconnected BMaaS, Equinix Metal delivers compute power and storage capacity on-demand and is fully integrated with Equinix Fabric for seamless workload migration to the cloud.

Identify the required skill sets and complement them with partner expertise

Another important consideration for data center migrations is what personnel and skill sets you have in-house and what you need to outsource. Your staff may have some of the needed skills, but most likely—given the rarity of large-scale data center migrations—you’ll need to work with partners and providers that have data center migration expertise.

Equinix Global Solutions Architects (GSA) can help guide you on the best Equinix International Business Exchange™ (IBX®) data center locations to choose based on your cloud and network services provider proximity, and business and customer requirements. In addition, our GSAs can help you identify which vertical industry ecosystems are most prominent in specific metro locations, such as financial services, healthcare, manufacturing and so on. You can also take advantage of Equinix Infrastructure Services (EIS) to help with the actual move and installation from your data center to an Equinix IBX data center.

Leverage digital infrastructure services to support your migration

Don’t let data center migration challenges cause delays and complications in your migration plan. Take advantage of the data center migration experts and services that can help you manage your migration from start to finish. Digital infrastructure services on Platform Equinix provide fast access to all the right global locations, partners and opportunities for a successful data center migration—providing maximum flexibility and choice as your business evolves.

To learn more about how digital infrastructure services on Platform Equinix can facilitate your data center migration, read the Equinix Fabric data sheet and Network Edge data sheet.


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Bryson Hopkins Former Senior Director, Global Solutions Enablement
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Kunal Handa Edge Specialist
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