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Migration projects need automation boost: Hot Spots

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If you have any data stored digitally, you've probably experienced data migration. At the user level, this might mean transferring data to a new PC, iPod or smart phone. It might be a hassle, but these events can be accomplished without too much pain. Now consider migrating all of the data in an enterprise data center--the sheer volume, as well as the complexity of the environment, makes this a daunting task.

IT environments are growing in complexity as companies transform their physical infrastructures to accommodate today's rapidly changing business needs. The goal is to create highly available and dynamic platforms to support service-oriented architectures (SOA), composite applications and virtualization services. As part of that process, server, switch and storage technologies are regularly upgraded to handle increased demands. And those upgrades come with data migrations. Data may move from one storage array to another; individual DAS may move to networked storage environments; or you might have to ship all of your data to a new offsite data center.

Why is data migration such a dreaded task? Because it's still a very manual process. Consider the following:

Small-scale

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migration: An application needs additional storage, but currently resides on a limited array. The application's data needs to be migrated to an array with more available storage. This is typically a three-week process, with multiple maintenance windows.

Large-scale migration: Multiple storage arrays, or an entire data center, must be migrated. Typical engagements involve petabytes of data, and could include hundreds or thousands of servers. You'll most likely have consultants crawling all over your data center, and the project could last six to nine months (or longer).

There are numerous problems associated with manual data collection, analysis and planning, including a greater possibility of recording and propagating errors, increased project timeframes, and possibly more unplanned downtime or lengthy cleanups. The risk is compounded in highly dynamic environments, as any change can render a configuration obsolete. This can lead to a number of the planned migration servers being dropped from the scheduled migration. If dropped, these servers won't be picked up again until the end of the project, which requires the old storage infrastructure to remain operational during that period. Completing migrations in a timely manner is therefore important. That's especially true if old equipment is leased, as additional charges usually apply for every additional day the equipment remains onsite.

Reliance on manual collection, configuration and migration results in longer projects with greater risks and higher costs. Leveraging technology to automate the process is therefore required to handle major data migration projects, as well as day-to-day provisioning activities.


This was first published in September 2008

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