Large, medium and small organisations all need to undertake data migration at some stage of their development. Migration allows businesses to upgrade computer software and systems, release much needed storage space, save money and reduce their carbon footprint by decreasing energy consumption. Furthermore, new legislation from the Government will introduce fines for FTSE 250 companies if their carbon footprints are not reduced within a specific time period. Ewan MacLeod reports.

Even though companies acknowledge there are many benefits to be gained by implementing a data centre migration, many organisations are scared to migrate because it is perceived as an incredibly expensive and time-consuming task. While the benefits of a migration to a business can be enormous, so too can the risks associated with the move. Currently migration projects involve employing highly skilled (and expensive) 'craft' workers that can delay the process through checks and re-checks to try to eliminate the human error.

The whole process can take many months (sometimes years on larger projects) and cost millions of pounds. One of the biggest challenges and risks in any data centre migration is collecting and documenting servers, software and IT services configurations. Detailed planning, documentation and preparation is critical to making the data centre consolidation and virtualisation a success.

During a data centre migration the server is down, therefore companies with time-critical information need to ensure that the whole process happens as quickly and smoothly as possible. Each part of the data centre controls a different aspect of the company's IT infrastructure. Before a data centre can commence relocation there are lots of logistics to consider including, at the very basic level, the general size and weight of the hardware and how to dismantle it.

At a new business location there are many factors to consider in advance, with a view to preventing any potential slip-ups. For example, one company (to remain nameless) arrived at its new location only to find out that the connection and cabling requirements were not the same as at its previous location and so had to be returned, thereby costing the company thousands of pounds.

It is an absolute necessity for a business to find out in advance the accessibility of the new premises and ensure that fail-safe engineers are on hand once the move is instigated, should anything go wrong.

Data centre migration ensures that companies save money through freeing up much needed space and associated energy costs. New data storage solutions ensure that data can be consolidated and that valuable office space can be returned.

Businesses increasingly recognise that reducing their carbon footprint not only saves money, it can generate good PR for the company. One FTSE 250 telco company announced they had reduced their carbon footprint by 60 per cent between 1996 and 2006, including consolidating 53 major data centres around the world, and has committed to a further 10 per cent energy savings by 2016.

According to a Forrester Research report, CIOs had cautious spending plans in 2006, but will increase IT spending in 2007 by 4.5 per cent from 2.1 per cent in 2006, investing in computer equipment, communications equipment and software1. With this extra budget, investments should be made to implement a strategic data centre migration plan.

Roy Illsley, senior research analyst at Butler Group, commented, 'Data centre virtualisation, consolidation or migration can produce large cost savings for enterprises in the long-run, yet it is currently an expensive and slow process due to the risks involved in shifting mission-critical applications.' Illsley continued, 'There will be more and more large data centre migrations in the future due to the pressure on data centre space, the need for more energy-efficient computers and cooling technologies, and the need to provide the ability to meet growing corporate computing demands. A solution that helps de-risk and therefore speed up and reduce the cost of the migration process is vital.'

All in all the whole process of a data centre migration requires a lot of forward planning and can be very costly if any glitches occur, but the benefits of upgrading software, saving space and reducing energy consumption far outway the negatives. Businesses just need to ensure that all boxes are ticked in advance of any potential move. Minor headaches in advance of a data centre migration can prevent serious migraines occurring during the transition.

Ewan MacLeod is CEO of DCMI.


  1. Bartels A, Parker A (2007) Forrester Research: European Enterprise IT Spending: 2006 To 2007.