• Check with the equipment vendors to see if there are stipulations for equipment moving.
• Thoroughly interview a moving company before committing to its services. Ask questions about process, equipment, and insurance.
• Keep in mind the risks associated with moving equipment yourself. If you aren’t sure you can safely do the job, hire a professional.
There are a lot of risks associated with moving a data center. David Combs, director of network engineering at Performance Technology Group, tells the story of a data center that moved a large, expensive storage unit without the aid of the vendor and ended up dropping it off the back of a truck. Even worse, the unit’s manufacturer voids warranties when customers do not use the vendor to move their equipment, so the company lost its investment.
Data center managers can avoid similar relocation-related risks by talking with the equipment vendor, using the vendor when necessary, and seeking out a qualified mover in other instances. The following tips and information are designed to help data center managers find qualified movers and inform themselves of the risks and complexities of performing the move themselves.
Where To Look
When getting started looking for a mover, always check with the equipment vendor first to find out whether there are any moving-related restrictions. If there are no stipulations that the customer use the equipment vendor to move, the next step is tracking down a data center relocation specialist.
To find the right mover, start by asking data center peers for recommendations about people they have worked with. The best resource for finding a mover may be the company or consultant designing the new data center, notes Robert Gutmann, senior vice president of sales for the Advance Relocation Resource Group.
When looking on the Web or in the Yellow Pages, search among large moving companies, which are more likely to have the financial backing necessary to do the job right. “You may even want to consider hiring a computer moving company consultant who can help you find a qualified mover,” says Allen Spinner, executive VP of Technology Team (www.technologyteam.us).
Planning Is Everything
It’s imperative to interview potential movers. Ask how they plan for a move and whether they hold extensive planning meetings with the customer. Ask them what kinds of worksheets and documentation they use, what kind of moving equipment they use, and how they progress through a move.
Experts insist on making detailed plans with the customer ahead of the move. They develop detailed worksheets for the move that spell out timelines and authorizations for each step and accountability for everything. They should specify that they will wrap all computers in nonstatic bubble wrap, place them in watertight containers, and tag them on the outside, says Frank Shiboski, vice president and CIO of William B. Meyer (www.williambmeyer.com). “If we put four PCs in a container, we will know from the outside barcode what PCs these are and where they are going, via Palm Pilots,” Shiboski notes.
Ask the mover what kinds of trucks they use and how they load the truck. “The mover should use air-ride trucks, which use a special type of air shock to keep equipment from bouncing around. The front of the truck behind the cab is the most stable place; they should put the computer storage equipment there,” says Steve Bolton, data center relocations manager for Akibia (www.akibia.com).
Experienced movers may use or recommend temperature-controlled trucks to maintain the temperature of the servers so they do not overheat when driving through hot climates. Maintaining the temperature will help the servers acclimate to the data center’s temperatures more quickly, too.
Finally, an equipment mover should offer valuation protection, a type of insurance that covers the equipment for its full value. “Some movers insure by weight. If you will be moving equipment by truck, ask the mover if you are insured for the replacement value of the technology,” Bolton says.
The Risks Of Moving Without A Mover
Even moving a few servers in the same building presents a risk of equipment damage. Drop damage, the lack of available parts, and the downtime that results from damage all come into play. If the data center is moving its own hardware, it may need to put on extra staff because of the off-hours time when they may be moving, the length of time it will take, and whether people will need the equipment up and ready to work with the next day, Bolton explains.
The farther the move, the greater the risks. Moving equipment across town adds fire, theft, and data loss risks. If the data center orchestrates its own move, it should ensure that hardware and data backups do not travel in the same vehicle. “If anything happens to that truck, you have lost both equipment and data,” says Combs.
For cross-country moves, use end-to-end delivery. Equipment loaded onto one truck at the start should arrive at its final destination in the same vehicle. Delivery methods that use multiple drop points increase the risk of damage, theft, or loss as they transfer equipment from truck to truck.
by David Geer
Check References |
When vetting a relocation service provider, another valuable resource is the vendor’s past customers. Ask for professional references from data centers the company has moved in the past. “Go out and visit the location that the data center was moved to and talk to the data center manager and the CIO who were involved on the customer side,” says Frank Shiboski, vice president and CIO of William B. Meyer (www.williambmeyer.com). Ask them whether the movers were trained in relocating data center technology. Were they competent and assistive through the entire process before, during, and after the move? Hearing another company’s experience can give you an idea of what to expect from a provider.