Team up early with the people who control the one thing that makes it all work – electricity.

Talk about mission critical: the data center today is the operations center of your company. When it’s not working, you’re not working. What happens, then, when this key to everything has to be moved?

A data center relocation goes far beyond just moving servers to a new physical location and then plugging them back in. The process is complex, and best left to IT professionals with the right kind of expertise, who’ll team up with people who control the one thing that makes it all work – electricity.

Don’t skimp on bringing in the right people

If ever there was a time for truthfulness and transparency, it’s during the relocation of your data center. It’s a given that the relocation will require a project manager – and it’s likely that you’ve got one or more PMs on staff. They’re competent and professional.

But, have they done this before? Work through any unpleasant issues, but make sure you establish with certainty that you’ve got someone in-house who can lead this important project. Otherwise, bring in someone with the appropriate expertise in moving data centers.

If you decide on using your internal resources, at least consider hiring a consultant who will work closely with your team.

Produce a documented step-by-step plan

Successful organizations know that highly documented project plans aren’t CYA protection in case something goes wrong. It’s a way to ensure that everything will go right. In the case of moving a data center, your plan should have 4 parts:

  1. Present method of operation. Document what will be moved, paying close attention to your current dependencies. In particular, you’ll want to make sure you understand the present electrical needs and how it’s set up. Your project manager should work with an electrical contractor who has experience with data centers.
  2. Desired future state. This is more than a layout diagram of where things will go in the new data center. Take the time to define updates and changes spurred by growth. Sure, you may have the room – but will you have the power capacity? Again, working in concert with a professional electrical contractor with a track record of successful data center relocations is important.
  3. The roadmap. Your first two major documentations define requirements. Once they’re all in place, you need a scripted action plan. This is all about logistics. Consider the disastrous consequences of getting to the day of the move and discovering the new and upgraded electrical service panel isn’t scheduled to be installed for another few days.
  4. The implementation plan. This is all about roles – who will do what, where, and when. A good project manager will have this planned out in amazing detail – along with immediate action steps if something unanticipated occurs. It might seem like overkill to the uninitiated, but something as simple as an untested and inoperable electrical outlet can have a cascading impact.

Plan ahead for appropriate resources

How often are you going to move a data center? It’s safe to say, then, that you won’t know what you don’t know. Let’s stick to the recurring theme of electricity. It’s obvious that this is a mission critical resource.

The time to involve the electrical contractor who’ll be your partner in the move should actually be prior to the selection of the new location. They can advise you on whether the new space has sufficient capacity to handle your data center – as well as the ability to handle future growth.

We all know the usual thing CYA stands for. There’s a different definition for this acronym, and it’s more appropriate here. Challenge Your Assumptions. Moving your data center is more than just physically transferring racks of computer equipment and servers to a new space. If ever there was a time when an assumption could leave you dead in the water… this could be it.