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OptimizeYour Data Center Migration with ITIL

Jul 21, 2008

Mike Tainter

Release Management

Applying release management activities during and after the migration will ensure changes are released to the production environment in a unified manner. Release management activities such as proper testing, validation, communication and training result in a more effective production change. The goal here is to triangulate the processes of change, release and configuration management in order coordinate, execute and ensure all the information is documented in the configuration management database (CMDB).

As each change is planned, release management activities can be used to bundle the changes to take advantage of delivering the new technology in release units. To avoid additional risks that can be caused by changes, it is also a good practice to freeze changes prior to the migration.

Configuration Management

One of the biggest advantages of a migration that organizations can leverage is the standard step of documenting all the configuration items that are being migrated. This activity is part of every data center migration, since an inventory of configuration items must be collected to determine the scope. Organizations can take advantage of migration-driven configuration management activities such as planning, identification, control, status accounting and validation of the configuration items to ensure all the information is documented and contained in an accessible form for ongoing future operations.

After the migration, care must taken to ensure the data in the CMDB remains current. This is accomplished by integrating the CMDB with sound change management. The information in the CMDB can also be used to track incidents related to the configuration items, giving support groups the ability to access trending information in the performance of their duties in maintaining continuity of the services.

Coordination with service level management is also helpful to understand the relationships of configuration items that make up the services. Configuration management is a key building block of a successful migration. The baseline information of the origin is essential to validation and issue resolution at the destination. Delta reporting on configuration changes is a best practice to quickly identify potential areas of issues.

Service Level and Portfolio Management

Migrating the IT capabilities must occur within the context of an acceptable risk profile for the business. The benefits of documenting business and technical services cannot be overstated. Service Level Management activities are useful in understanding service level requirements from the business, resulting in the ability to understand the impact the migration will have on the services delivered to the business.

This information is crucial to determine which services are going to be impacted and their associated criticality. Decisions based on understanding the service levels will ensure the migration can take place without negatively affecting the business. Placing the services in the service portfolio will also help to document the state of the services that are delivered to the business. This information can be used to determine if the service is under development or in production.

As the service transforms from development to production, the information can used during and after the migration to ensure service delivery meets the identified service level agreements. As services are identified, the relationships of configuration items can be determined which gives additional information to the migration team so they understand how the technology is related to deliver the services. This information is extremely valuable in successful planning of the migration.

Availability, Capacity and Service Continuity Management

Information collected from the service catalog (i.e., service level requirements) can be used to help design the architecture needed to deliver the services. Ensuring the services are available for use is an activity that is the responsibility of the availability, capacity and continuity processes. Designing these processes during the planning stage of the migration can lead to enhancements in the architecture that will be used to deliver higher quality services in the new data center. Matching the architecture to the defined service level requirements contained in the service portfolio presents an opportunity to improve the services in the new environment.

A major benefit to any data center migration is taking advantage of the service lifecycle of Strategy, Design, Transition, Operations and Improvement contained in ITIL v3. Developing the services, processes, people and tools to meet the expectations of the business during and after a data center migration will ensure delivery of quality services is maintained beyond the migration itself.

Data center migration is a reality for any organization and it presents a unique opportunity to mature IT management. Take advantage of the opportunity by developing the processes that will lead to a more effective transformation and future operations.

As director of Forsythe’s IT service management practice, Mike Tainter focuses on IT service management, ITIL, operations management, process design, IT operations support system development, and IT logistical requirements for a wide variety of organizations. He can be reached at mtainter@forsythe.com.