Planning for Server Migration

By Paula Musich  |  Posted 2007-08-03 Print this article Print

The migration, which began on the evening of July 27 and was supposed to be completed within 12 to 15 hours, involved moving 3,700 servers for 3,000 customers across the state of Florida. But it appears that Hostway did not adequately plan for such a move, said Charles King, principal analyst at consulting firm Pund-IT.
"When you are talking about moving 3,700 servers, that is not a small data center. The sheer logistics of powering down, disconnecting, packing, loading, moving, repositioning and reconnecting that many servers is a formidable task. The notion that they could do that in half a day Im not sure is physically possible," he said.
Endpoints Kay said he believes that several key steps were left out of the process for the migration from Miami to Tampa. "In a migration there are a couple of phases: One has to do with programs, another with data. You start with the programs, and then carefully migrate data to a separate area, then bring it to a new site, then test it and make sure it works, then take the old site offline and bring the new site online with small gap, then take the old site down," Kay said. However, that would involve the use of a backup site, such as a disaster recovery site, which is costly—especially if the backup site operates as a "shadow site that has everything online," King said. "All your data and material needed to operate those sites are in two different places. That is the ideal situation. But if a company didnt have the wherewithal to maintain a backup site for disaster recovery—if the location of the primary data center was hit by a natural disaster—people would be asking the same questions at this point," he said. The alternative would be to create a temporary backup site with a large hosting company such as IBM or Hewlett-Packard for the duration of the move, he added. "Frankly, having a full-blown backup and disaster recovery site is not an inconsequential effort, but if your business guarantees access to data 24/7, you need to give it consideration for both voluntary and involuntary outages," he said. The hefty cost of having such backup sites available is still most likely less than the cost that the migration snafu will have to Hostways business. "I had six days of downtime. I lost three clients. It hurt me," Thompson said. "This just blew their reputation out of the water. Im moving all my files over to … A lot of people went to them from ValueWeb. I heard they were filling orders all day from ValueWeb [customers]," he added. Read more here about Hostway customers reactions to the service outage. "I would say this could be the death knell of the business itself. I wouldnt be surprised if some of these guys ... sue them," Kay said. "This is not something a company survives very easily," echoed King. "I expect Hostway will put hefty money into trying to repair the relationships it has with [its] customers. In cases as severe as this, I expect the circumstances are damaging to Hostway customers," he said. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, views and analysis on servers, switches and networking protocols for the enterprise and small businesses.


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