Moving a Utility Company’s Data Center Without Anyone Noticing

Moving a Utility Company’s Data Center Without Anyone Noticing

The Challenge

Moving a Utility Company’s Data Center Without Anyone Noticing

How do you move a utility company’s entire IT environment to a new Tier 3 data centre 350 kilometers away, without incurring any downtime to its mission critical applications?

By focusing on all the details living in:

  • Over 2000 servers (physical and virtual)
  • 350+ applications (both internal and COTS)
  • Multiple server platforms and operating systems (AIX, Windows, Linux)
  • Multiple storage arrays
  • Multiple DBMS (Oracle and SQL Server)
  • Multiple third party WAN connections
  • An ERP implementation integrated into every facet of the organization’s operational environment

This was one of the larger data center relocations we delivered. The project’s risk profile was further impacted by our client’s requirement to include multiple transformation projects into the scope of the relocation.

  • Migration to a new storage platform and vendor
  • Migration to new virtualized server platform and vendor
  • ERP version upgrade
  • Oracle DBMS upgrade
  • AIX OS upgrade
  • New WAN circuit implementation

To say our client embraced change was an understatement. Applying a change freeze prior to application migrations was also a challenge as our client’s application development projects had tight deadlines to meet and they weren’t going to be put on hold for a data center move.


Given the scale of the environment we had to move and scope of required changes we focused our initial efforts on a detailed discovery phase.

As the client’s environment contained a high number of physical servers a thorough inventory of infrastructure assets including servers, storage, network devices was completed first.

In parallel, a detailed application to server mapping was completed and affinity bundles defined to support the migration scheduling.

We also developed multiple move methods and created a variety of methods of procedure (MOPs) that detailed every task required to migrate an application. Some examples of the MOPs we developed are listed below:

  • LPAR to LPAR
  • V2V
  • P2V
  • P2P
  • Lift and Shift

In terms of the overall project schedule, we invested 75%+ of the project duration to planning and design. Contingency plans were developed along with resourcing and migration plans.


The data centre relocation was a success and the migrated environment achieved a server virtualization level of 95%. Mission critical applications were moved without incurring downtime.

One of the keys to completing the relocation without incident was the scheduling of lessons learned sessions after each significant migration was completed.

MOPs were constantly updated, and task durations and dependencies were fine tuned as issues were resolved in real time.

This was a very challenging project with a lengthy risk log that could only have been delivered with the client’s commitment to a detailed discovery and planning phase. When the project complexity is high and the tolerance for downtime is non-existent investment in detailed project planning is critical.