Thursday, January 3, 2013

Pre-data center move tips

We are getting ready to move our data enter yet again. This will be the fourth time we move this particular one so we are getting pretty good at it. It's funny how much goes into one of these that people just don't realize.

A few examples...

1. Every connection needs to be documented. If not you will not know where to plug it in once you arrive at the new data center.

2. Every server location must be documented both where it is currently and where it is going. By location I mean the cabinet and "U location". A typical cabinet has 42 U locations, some servers take 1U some can take 20U. There is a big difference...

3. Then you need to have a server move document that shows where the server came from and goes to, so that it goes on the right pallet. The right pallet is the one that matches the "go to" cabinet. It makes it quicker putting them back in.

4. All the cables at the new location need to be labelled and ideally color coded. It's much easier to find the one cable out of 300 that you need, if only ten of them are red...

5. Print out the labels ahead of time but don't put them on the cables. Otherwise you will spend too much time trying to find the next cable...

6. Unbag and untie all of the cables ahead of time too. It may not sound like much but when you have 1000 cables, even that 30 seconds per cable adds up. In this case to around 6 hours of time...

7. You can't have more than three people working in a cabinet, one in the front and one in the back, maybe one handing the cables. You also need to leave a space in the cabinets you are working on or people will just be in the way....

8. Have a separate test team and troubleshoot team, if possible. After working until Midnight on Friday taking stuff out, and then working 16 hours on Saturday putting them back in, you will be too tired to actually be that effective...

9. Have a priority list, just in cast you don't get to finish everything on time you can at least make sure the most important systems are available as quickly as you can.

10. After you are done, celebrate then figure out what you could have done better. Number 5 is a great example of learning from something that didn't quite go as good as we expected. Everyone likes to think they will only do this once, but never say never.

I'm sure once we are done I'll have some post move tips too, so stay tuned.

Some timing numbers we use...
Setting up a new cabinet (moving it in place, securing it etc) takes 30 minutes.
Racking (or unracking) a server takes 10 minutes
Plugging in one network cable is 5 minutes
Power cables are 2 minutes.


  1. Coming from the same background of this article, we want to compliment you on the planning. We were curious to see how you made out?

    Shawn Simon @

    1. Thanks Shawn. It went really well. We ended up pre-staging the cabinets, network gear and cabling and were done in 20 or so hours. Versus 56 it would have taken us. Being able to have that done makes the downtime much less, though the amount of total work is probably a little bit more.