Vocus: Testing the waters of hosted data centres

Is it best to test the waters when considering a hosted data centre, asks Vocus Communications' Steven Stanford.

There are many different options for organisations to consider when looking at hosted data centre services – from fully managed and outfitted hosting to co-location offerings.

But if your business has already decided to move to a hosted environment, the next big question to ask is how to approach this shift?

Do you dive right in and move everything across all at once? Or, do you test the waters first by migrating a few systems and applications?

The answer will be different for every organisation and depends on a range of variables. For many business leaders handing control of all their data and systems over to a third-party remains a frightening prospect.

Therefore, to get buy-in from decision makers in your organisation for a move to hosted environment, a staged migration is likely to be an easier sell as it is much less risky than a big bang all-in-one approach.

With a staged migration, you can plan, test and move systems and applications to the new environment with less time pressure, whereas with the big bang approach, you often need to make a wholesale shift over a very short period of time to ensure everything is back up and running as soon as possible so the business can keep operating.

For instance, you get the rack on Thursday, plug it in on Friday, move it all across over the weekend and it all has to be working by Monday morning when the office reopens!

This method is open to risk which could impact your business. Another key consideration is whether you are moving live systems, like your company website, online services or customer portals, which you can’t afford to have down even for a short period of time. In this case, a phased approach makes sense.

Tactical measures

A good tactic is to set up a temporary environment and only migrate all your other systems when the new infrastructure is ready.

Collocating to a new data centre is also the ideal time to upgrade your network architecture. Perhaps in the past you’ve had to make do with an imperfect set-up or your hardware has become dated.

Moving to a new data centre is an opportunity to start from a clean slate and get the network architecture your business needs.

Another vital point to consider when moving to a hosted data centre environment is the quality of your communications infrastructure, as you will be accessing your business data over the internet.

Your internet connection will not only be your link the outside world, but also to the information which is the lifeblood of your business, so choosing a provider which offers fast, reliable and scalable internet connectivity is critical.

Again, this calls for a well thought-out, phased migration to a new hosting environment, as reviewing your connectivity and refreshing your network infrastructure requires a significant amount of planning.

Ensuring your move to a hosted data centre environment is smooth and uneventful is critical. After all, when you're dealing with critical business data, uneventful is just what your bosses would want.


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