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Friday, March 1, 2013

5 Keys to A Successful Server Migration


When assigned with the task of managing a new server implementation or multiple server migrations, there are many important things that you need to take into consideration. I have been a part of flawless migrations and I have seen every aspect of a migration go completely wrong. What determines the outcome of your migration is often non-technical. As IT professionals, we all know the technology, we know the products and we know all of the processes necessary for leading a successful migration; but things still go wrong.
More often than not, the problems didn't arise from the technological standpoints of the migration or implementation itself, it came from a lack of planning, a lack of preparation and a lack of focus. There are a lot of demands in the IT field. Users need to be able to work; and to be able to work they need their computers to work. If the computer systems in your office don't work, you are the first to hear about it, and generally, people aren't nice. The pressure placed on an IT team can at times be overwhelming and flustering, but you can't let it get to you.
In this article, I would like to share the 5 keys that I believe are most important to a successful implementation or migration project.

Key 1: Planning
You should always go into any server migration project with a thorough, well thought out plan. This should include step by step processes and procedures for every phase of your project. You should estimate and plan out the time of every step and make sure that the whole process is well documented. Your IT team should review and discuss the plan, and all members of the team should be on the same page. Remember, your goal is to have a successful migration with minimal downtime. A plan will keep your team in check and on the right path.

Key 2: Backup
Part of your thorough plan should always include backups. Everything that is in your network that could potentially be phased should be backed up. Never, and I repeat, never go into a project or server migration without being 100% certain that you have a backup of all systems included in the migration. In the event that something goes terribly wrong with your project; you'll want to have the peace of mind that you have backups of all of your relevant systems.

Key 3: Failover
Failover kind of goes hand in hand with the backup, but to a higher degree. You should always have a failover plan in place when working with server migrations. We all know it should work, but it doesn't always work perfectly the first time. Make sure that if things start to go wrong with your migration that you can easily failover to other solutions, or quickly be able to undo any changes that have been made. You may be approaching a deadline or other staff members may be close to coming into work, so be sure that you have yourself protected. Always ask yourself, "What am I going to do if things do not work right after this migration?"

Key 4: Focus
Key 4 is a very important key in having a successful migration or implementation. You will have deadline, demands, and maybe even a couple of speed bumps along the way. Keep your cool, stay relaxed and keep focused. Many issues are often caused by the small things, such as a missed step or rushed techniques. If you developed a well written and well thought out plan for your project, you should be able to stick to that plan in a focused matter. When the going gets tough, keep your head up and never lose focus.

Key 5: Documentation
Documenting your procedures and processes should be something that you are doing from the beginning of the planning phases all the way through completion of your project. The more documentation you have on a particular project, server roll out, or network implementation, the easier it is going to be for you to manage not only the project, but also the infrastructure that you are building. Make sure that any member of your team can assist with troubleshooting any future issues that may arise by having thorough documentation. Well written documentation equals well managed networks and systems.
In my 15+ years of being a professional in this field, I have found that it is easy to make mistakes and even easier to lose focus. Having a well-rounded team, with a well thought out plan will help you and your team to keep your eyes on the prize. Do not take these projects lightly or they will come back to haunt you. Remembering these 5 keys will give you better results at the end of any project or server migration.
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