Data Migration and Merging Data Centers

If you’ve ever had to do it, you know that data migration is one of the trickiest IT challenges. Add in moving and consolidating multiple data centers and it’s an ordeal that invites dark humor and increased sleep deprivation. But IT professionals are stoic, if nothing else, so they wade into these projects optimistically. Now we can’t say we have made these ventures simple, but we have made them simpler.

Data center consolidations mean change, cost, complexity and disruption. IT staff do double time working on elaborate preparations in parallel to their core responsibilities. The objectives include minimal disruption, normal operations, certainty and speed. For example, when two financial services companies combined they needed to consolidate four data centers, merge two separate IT operations, establish a new enterprise-class high-availability environment, reduce costs and accelerate transaction execution. They needed to accomplish this as quickly as possible and without any interruption of production applications. Adding to the challenge, one of the merged companies ran on Microsoft Hyper-V and the other on VMware. Disaster recovery systems were themselves a disaster and, as a financial services company, they needed to be ready for the regulators. This is probably where the dark humor kicks in.

iStock_000023610982_MediumSo, two dissimilar IT environments needed to merge. Two outsourced data centers were to be phased out. A new DR site in Ohio would replace a site in Florida. But first they needed to modernize the out-of-date primary site and create a new high-availability enterprise environment from scratch. That meant new virtual servers, a new storage network, new backup and disaster recovery systems, and conversion from outsourced VMware servers to the in-house Hyper-V environment. Their objective measurements were degree of consolidation, improvements in efficiency, reductions in operating cost and acceleration in transaction speed. It was time for innovative solutions.

As you might anticipate, they chose Actifio to save time and expense while virtualizing and non-disruptively migrating data, seamlessly converting hypervisors and automating disaster recovery. The result was fluid compliance with regulations and improved positioning for expansion of revenue generating services.

The transformation took place in three phases. First, the aged internal systems were upgraded with a new SAN as well as an enterprise level Hyper-V virtual environment. A phase-out of tape libraries began as Actifio backup/DR was established between the primary and secondary sites.

In phase two, the outsourced environment was brought in-house. A simplifying bonus here was how Actifio helped them convert VMware servers to Hyper-V 2012 R2 servers during the transfer process. No lengthy manual process involved. As transfers were complete, production systems began operating from the primary data center. According to this customer,

“Bringing all systems in-house, we didn’t have to build anything special to make the VMware to Hyper-V conversions. Actifio easily accomplished that during the data transfer. So the conversion process was really simplified and we saved a huge amount of time. Simple, versatile data mobility is a big part of this story.”   

 

Finally, a physical move was made to create a new DR site near corporate headquarters five states away. The old secondary site was decommissioned and the Actifio backup and failover automation was implemented to replace the old patchwork of existing manual systems and freestanding tools.

Still in the planning stages, their strategy is to use Actifio data virtualization and mobility features to create new service offerings as a managed service provider to their financial services clients.

We can’t say that there was no dark humor in evidence, but we do know that senior management was extremely satisfied and that the IT leadership is sleeping more soundly – until the next move.

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