August 30, 2010, 1:52 PM — Moving a data center is a major undertaking for most organizations. And a successful move is a nice resume builder for any IT professional. A successful move will showcase skills in large-scale project planning, project management, technology integration and interpersonal communications. The process provides a chance for exposure across the company, as virtually every department is touched by the IT organization (and affected by a data center move) in some way.
However, data center moves can be fraught with career-limiting failures. No IT professional wants to be on the receiving end of memos and discussions describing lost orders, missed deadlines or customer dissatisfaction that occurred because some mission-critical business process was disrupted by a data center move that didn't run smoothly.
In most relocation projects, there are four critical mistakes to avoid: ignoring the data, combining the move with additional projects, failure to plan appropriately and not creating an inventory of equipment, applications and processes. Taking time up front to think through each of these will significantly improve your chances for success -- and the personal recognition that follows.
* Ignoring the data. While IT professionals give plenty of thought to the infrastructure involved in data center relocation, moving the data itself can be just as taxing -- sometimes even more so. It is easy to lose sight of the data, as many firms have adopted the model that business group leaders own their data. Marketing owns the prospect data base, operations owns inventory data and so on. Yet the reality is that the data and its underlying infrastructure must be considered as part of an interconnected holistic system -- not elements that can be taken apart and easily reassembled at will.
The smart IT professional will reach out to business owners before the move to identify information that may be affected and reach agreement on such items as data access, compatibility with new systems, application migration and others. Cleansing data prior to the move may be worthwhile, but definitely not during the move.
* Combining the move with additional projects. With all the planning that goes into moving a data center, many professionals attempt to combine other projects -- often guided by the CFO's visions of cost savings -- into the relocation.