Dealing with Data Center Transports and Consolidations
There has been a steady stream of consolidations and reorganizations that have resulted in a number of organizational changes in the marketplace. These changes have manifested themselves as data center transports and consolidations. Facing a consolidation of your data center may seem like a daunting task, but it can also be an opportunity to learn about your network and application operations and to improve your monitoring capabilities.
A data center consolidation, especially one from the acquisition of another company, provides ample opportunity to discover the types of application, management, and security traffic running through the network. Whenever things get moved, shut down, or transferred over the weekend, it inevitably stirs up concerns the following week. This is often due to rarely used servers, applications, or backups. When planning the data center move, take the time to monitor all of the applications, backups, and analysis protocols running through the network, and not just during the busy hours, but in the off times as well to make sure you understand what they are doing, and why they exist. Take the “top talkers” list and flip it upside down to find the “least talkers .” The less frequently sent backups, queries, and applications can reveal valuable insights into some of those legacy apps, servers or storage devices which you may need to plan for during the move.
A common complaint among data center managers during a move is the lack of planning to monitor and secure the network. Data center designers often run detailed analysis of bandwidth utilization, virtual systems and HVAC requirements, but often overlook the methods to actively monitor systems with analytic tools. Unfortunately, while the servers, firewalls, and storage devices are budgeted during a data center move, the analytic tools (what you use to monitor or troubleshoot problems) often get left off the financial plan. This is especially critical since the speed of network connections is increased at the new data center, but monitoring devices are left by the wayside. Using Wireshark as a network protocol analyzer on an old laptop is fine for most work, but having dedicated, wire-speed tools (at both the old and new data center locations) may be critical to get the cutover done on time.
Data Center consolidations result in increased pressure on typical workloads, since everyone needs to stay up and running during the planning and transitional phases. During this busy time, take the opportunity to review your Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery plans. As always, the devil is in the details; addresses and people will get updated with the BC/DR process , but don’t forget the circuit identifiers, jump bags, test plans, and sundry other details that will need to be tested, coordinated, and confirmed with technicians, vendors, and telcos. No one wants to discover when a server or power supply fails in the new data center that the cold spares were slated to be transferred from the old data center, after the final cutover.
While data center moves are stressful, time consuming projects, they represent a unique opportunity to learn something new about your network, plan for improved monitoring, and even refresh those dusty BC/DR plans on your shelf.