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Guide to Migration Planning Part 4: The Migration

Introduction

Your migration is about to hit its most exhilarating point. The Migration step proves out all the hard work and planning you’ve done prior. The many hours of hard and sometimes monotonous project planning work, assessments, testing, vendor selection, purchasing, contracting, etc., and other preparations are done, and part four is the final step that stands between you, your team, and a truly good night’s sleep. 

This entry will be on the shorter side, as well, since in parts one  (“Readiness Assessment and Creation of the Pre-Migration Plan”) through three (“Migration Prep & Solution Design”), we did the majority of the hard work, having discussed the planning details, designed our solutions, ensured security boundaries existed and would be respected, established, refreshed, and validated SLAs, and all the other nuances that got you here. This fourth article will consist mostly of last minute reminders and tips, and a strict insistence that you stick to the plan you worked so hard to create:

  1. Stick to the plan! [aka “If it’s not on the plan, don’t do it!]
  2. Ensure SLA’s are met, and be prepared to back out if necessary. Be prepared to make the back out call, and ensure each designee is clear on the criteria that would trigger that call.
  3. Verify designated communication channels are all functioning and all groups are ready.
  4. Ready, set … MIGRATE!
  5. Monitor everything closely for anomalies, and independently validate each migration group

 

Stick to the plan! [aka ‘If it’s not on the plan, don’t do it!]

It sounds obvious, right? Stick to the plan? You’ve likely spent months coming up with it, and worked out every detail and nuance of who will do what, where, and when. The temptation, however, to make last minute changes and adjustments can sometimes be so overwhelming that it can lead to rash, and rather poor decisions — some of which could have dire consequences.

Stick to the plan

If it isn’t in the plan, it shouldn’t happen during the migration, with few exceptions. There was plenty of time to plan and scope everything that will be taking place, and if you catch last minute ideas floating about that aren’t part of it, it’s your job to put the kibosh on them before they have a chance to sabotage everyone’s hard work. The migration should proceed like a well-oiled machine, and your plan even accounts for certain situations where it might not. Now is not the time to stick an extra wrench into its gears, so to speak. There will be plenty of time after the migration to make changes!

 

Ensure SLA’s Are Met, and be Prepared (yes, really) to Back Out!

The back out plan is something nobody ever wants to use. Most everyone who has spent time to making a back out plan feels the same way, and it’s completely understandable. Backing out is a worst-case scenario, and if the back out plan comes into play, something, somewhere went really wrong – and it isn’t going to be a happy morning for anyone.

Should we back out?

Back out plans are like insurance policies. For some reason, you almost never need one unless you don’t have one. That’s the good news. The bad news is that when you need one, you really, really need one. Again, like insurance, it’s much better to be prepared.

Ensure that the designated signee is aware of the go/no-go criteria for each step, and the criteria thresholds that trigger the back out plan as well. There should be no question in anyone’s mind during the migration with regards to how to proceed. Your plan was carefully assembled to spell out very clearly what to do when, what SLAs must be met, and what kinds of failures would be too severe to be tolerated by the business, therefore triggering a back out.

The good news is that, like insurance policies, chances are if the time was taken to create a quality plan and put a proper back out procedure in place, it will — most likely — not be needed.

 

Verify Designated Communication Channels and all Groups are Ready

Before the migration is kicked off, take the time to verify that the designated communication channels are all open and functional. If screen sharing or collaboration software is to be used, ensure the meetings and conference lines have been created, and that those phone numbers and URLs have been distributed to all who will need to join. Ensure that the centrally designated location that holds all the migration documentation is accessible to all that will need it, and double check that provisions for accessing those resources during the migration are in place.

 

Ready, set … Migrate!

Go! It’s okay to be nervous the morning of migration day. The key here is simply sticking to the plan. You’ve already done much of of the hard work, and your plan details exactly what needs to be done. Don’t overthink it, just take it one step at a time.

Ready, Set, Migrate

Ensure you know your part and the relevant details about the players that precede and follow your part, that you’re familiar with the plan, and that you’re ready to back out.

On the off chance something should go wrong, don’t panic. Be honest about it, and don’t try to cover up the mistake, neither for yourself or for someone else. Consult your team and figure out if it triggers the back out, or if it can be worked through; chances are it can.

 

Monitor for Anomalies and Independently Validate Each Step

The monitoring system will be alerting to the changes it picks up during the migration, and your plan accounts for these. You’ve likely silenced the non-critical alerts, as well as those that would not be clearing on their own.

Monitor for Anomalies

Look for any alerts that are unexpected or anomalous. Your systems have no idea that it is migration day. Don’t forget that it’s very possible to have the same kinds of production issues that might occur during any other normal business day. If you haven’t completely shut down for the migration, as is likely with many tech businesses operating 24/7 – keep a watchful eye out for alerts that are unrelated to the migration.

In the case of an unexpected alert, delegate to someone who is available and waiting for their turn in the migration to evaluate. Ensure that party has accepted responsibility, and then return focus to the task at hand. If you are the only party that can handle the given situation, pause and fill in your team. If possible, handle the issue using standard procedure, or consult the team and utilize a procedure deemed appropriate until after the migration. If a temporary fix cannot be avoided, document everything. There’s a lot going on during the migration, and the temptation to make a hasty, possibly dangerous decision can be strong.

Lastly, validate each phase of the work. The plan has no way to validate itself, so each participant must independently validate their steps to ensure the process delivered the expected end results. As part of final checkouts, it’s not a bad idea to double check that monitoring systems have been re-activated and are monitoring the new environment, and that your CMDB’s autodiscovery documentation jobs have been edited to include any newly created and/or removed network segments, if applicable. No shortcuts!

Conclusion

You are nearing the very end of your hard-fought migration, and you’ve made it through the hardest night. Congratulations on a migration well done! Be sure to high five anyone and everyone within reach, and go ahead and head home for some well-deserved rest. You’ve earned it, and you’ve already planned the final decommissioning steps.

Tune back in for the fifth and final entry in Device42’s Ultimate Guide to Migration. All that’s left, now is the Post-Migration Party, and of course, “Decommissioning the Old Data Center”. Until then, if you have any questions, comments, general thoughts, or ideas, do leave a comment below! If you prefer email, [email protected] is almost always open for business. We truly enjoy hearing from each one of you, and we do read EVERY single comment and email we get, so if it’s on your mind, don’t keep it to yourself! We appreciate everyone’s input.

 

Sources / References:

Migration Readiness Assessments, Part 2: Reaping the Benefits
DATA CENTER MIGRATION: THINK, PLAN, EXECUTE
“Data Migration Project Checklist: a Template for Effective data migration planning”
“Three steps to a successful data center migration plan”

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