Data center transformation and transition are inevitable at the rate of current growth. The evolution of a data center to satisfy business demand is a natural expected outcome. It should be complemented with highly efficient procedures so that risk mitigation is executed at the speed of business (balancing demand and change management).
In order to secure a successful transition project, you need a plan. Lack of familiarity with the process can lead to mishaps down the line or reluctance to change. This is not because of neglect but because of not having the experience to know what could happen if certain needs are not met. As experience grows, of course, organizations will learn their own truths about how to best support their operational models. But until then, here is a multi-phase approach that drastically reduces risk, every time.
Remember, an operations advocate is essential to the success of the process at every stage of planning and implementation. Someone (or a team) who deeply understands the integration of the systems, technology and human activity in the data center; reaping the benefits of maximum uptime, efficiency and cost effectiveness.
A Roadmap for Transition Operations
This repeatable, four-phase approach leads to an outcome that relies on continuity and sustainability to ensure the safest, most reliable and efficient operations for the data center’s lifecycle.
Phase 1: Evaluate
● Consider your current situation and what is needed to identify gaps and risks. Mitigate risk by scoping how to handle the legacy infrastructure (virtual and physical). Do a comprehensive review of the existing operation to establish a baseline and ascertain any gaps that must be mitigated in the plan. Documentation is critical.
● Classify your headcount and current staffing model. Ensure accurate roles and responsibilities for each position. Identify contracts and sub-contracts too. Spending quality time on the responsible, accountable, consulted and informed (RACI) model to ensure absolute clarity will help drive the process portion and ensure that the entire ecosystem of organizations supporting the function are aligned.
● Take an asset inventory. Specify remaining warranties and lifecycle status.
Phase 2: The Plan
● Ensure that a comprehensive life cycle management plan is in place for all hardware and equipment. Scoping the future needs to eliminate unnecessary hardware investments is as important as ensuring alignment with the budgeting process.
● Secure buy-in. Estimate capacity for current needs/ standards but also stakeholder expectations.
● Schedule of implementations should be fully documented to include budget forecasts and processes to ensure executing to the budget. Make sure to measure your success with Service Level Agreements (SLAs) and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) as well as establish a reporting tempo.
● Always analyze your operating procedures and make changes as needed for your new plan. Procedures that need to be changed should be subject to the same change management and information sharing requirements to ensure staff awareness and compliance.
● Implement and evaluate required programs:
- Training program – review or develop a thorough training plan that ensures all team members (new or old) are trained and current on all required functions and that all staff are informed of changes through repetitive retraining and drills (especially of emergency procedures).
- Maintenance program – dissect historical records for preventative and predictive activities (either in-house or outsourced) and ensure that the maintenance schedule is in place to allow planning and coordination with change management policies.
- Energy management programs – assess the current governance tools and procedures and research timely efficiency improvements to protocols and sourcing.
Phase 3: Execution
● Stick to the documented schedule – adhere to the deadline of contractual requirements.
● Transparency is critical – share what’s been accomplished, the activities in progress and what is coming next. Listen to key stakeholders to ensure the plan still meets their assumptions and expectations.
● Flexibility is key because business requirements can change based on market conditions and the right balance of thorough planning and transparency will ensure effective execution.
Phase 4: The Final Transition
● Measure your success – use the KPIs from the plan to make sure you have hit your goals.
● Reflect on continuous learning and improvement – document what could have been done better for next time and what was done well to build a stronger plan in the future. Using your current project to improve future projects is critical for making inevitable transitions in the future.
● The end is really just the beginning – the incoming team should be fully capable and trained to execute agreed processes and procedures.
One Plan is Never the Same – Evolution is Critical
The transition process should be updated with every project based on the lessons learned. The transition process should also be included in every Request for Proposal (RFP) when submitting for new operations teams.
Lastly, creating a working culture that is inclusive and transparent is vital to the success of the entire process over the lifespan of the facility.