Managing a data center migration? Last week we met with a large cloud provider to discuss how their enterprise customers could use UpGuard Core to accelerate the migration of in-house systems over to their platform.
During the discussion I recounted a story from 2001. I was at Colonial First State, a multi-billion dollar funds management business, migrating their production systems to the EDS data center. As a technical lead, I managed just one of the dozens of applications that were migrated.
I recalled standing in a massive data center, opposite a set of server racks which held what would shortly be our new production environment, nervously reviewing the 10-page checklist I'd been asked to compile. It held hundreds of checks which I had to perform manually after each migration practice run.
Each run of the checklist took hours to complete, the entire time I was under constant pressure, I felt that I had to triple check each action I performed and at the end I was always left with these daunting questions:
- Did I leave something out of the checklist?
- Did I make any mistakes?
- How long would it take me to track down these mistakes?
- What would the impact be?
- What if I had to change the checklist? Could I be sure that each version was properly managed and coordinated with other teams?
No matter how much sleep I lost over it, I never had a high level of confidence in what I had done. How could I? Humans make mistakes.
Migrating critical business applications which have been in a stable setting for a long period over to a new data center is a daunting task.
Ask your customers - is there room for failure? Any mistake easily equates to a failed migration, so perfection is the only outcome allowed.
Making things worse, your most critical applications are more likely to fail the migration. Why? Critical enterprise applications are usually the most complex. Complex applications have a higher potential for failure.
How UpGuard can help accelerate your data center migration
UpGuard Core helps your technology team work together by:
- Discovering and documenting the configuration of all your applications.
- Quickly generating an automated set of tests against your configuration.
- Finding and fixing migration issues before they occur, by executing these tests in real time.
- Versioning your tests against your applications, so over time they do not go out of sync.
Replace many hours of manual testing with an automated test suite that runs in just a few minutes.
How would I have done things differently back in 2001 with UpGuard Core?
Using UpGuard to implement the data center migration, the process would have been far more straightforward and automated:
- Invite stakeholders from all the relevant teams to UpGuard Core, the central repository for application configuration and testing. This would include application development, support, operations and security teams.
- UpGuard Core automatically discovers my applications, infrastructure and their configuration details. These would then be converted into a suite of automated tests for review by relevant stakeholders.
- Collaborate with the operations team to fine tune the test suite by running it against the current production environment, resolving any issues with the test suite and iterating until all the tests pass.
- Now armed with a test suite that validates my production configuration, I would build my target production environment in the new data center. With confidence!
- Migrate the application to the new data center, and verify the migration using the automated test suite. Finish by resolving any issues, and I now have a completed application migration.
Why is this better?
- No more out-of-date spreadsheets or Change Management Database (CMDB). You have automated the process of discovering your applications and the underlying infrastructure.
- Save weeks of effort and ensure 100% coverage by automatically producing tests that verify your applications.
- All the people who understand the application can contribute to the tests. All the teams who need to review and sign off the tests can do so centrally.
- Quickly execute your tests in minutes, not hours.
- Ensure that all tests are executed, not just those that your testers remember to run.
- Identify potential failures, resolve them and verify solutions immediately.
- Don't be finding and fixing migration issues for the next ten years. Prove to management and the board that the data center migration was a success.
Sleep well knowing that you have a repeatable process that runs hundreds or thousands of tests to measure the quality of the migration in minutes.
A helpful side effect is that after the data center migration, your operations team now has a comprehensive set of tests that they can run before and after system changes, or as part of their monitoring setup to keep your systems secure and stable.