Live Blog: Moving Two IBM Power Machines, Preparation

This week, I’m working with a client to move a production IBM Power 6 machine and its companion machine between two locations: an in-house data center and an outsourced managed data center, hosted by a vendor. We’re still in process at the moment (moves end next Tuesday), but I wanted to live blog the experience for other managers to read and comment on. Here are the major questions we considered in planning the move.

1. Who moves the machine? In our case, we decided to contract with IBM to insure that we are able to keep the machines on our IBM maintenance contract during the move and after reinstallation. If you or another party move an IBM machine on maintenance, the maintenance could be suspended and it won’t be restored until IBM comes in and recertifies the machine as fit for duty. That process is totally at IBM’s discretion and could take weeks, during which time the machine may not be on maintenance.

2. What are your contingency plans for what happens if the moving truck falls into a ditch or the machine gets knocked over by a lousy forklift operator? Do you have a backup machine that you can switch processing to? Do you have a disaster recovery plan in place that covers production system incapacitation? Does the vendor provide insurance? Can you get an IBM CE out there to handle any problems that occur with the move? Moving a machine isn’t without risk, and you’ll want to consider what to do if things go wrong.

3. Electricity – Does the target location have the proper electrical outlets your machine needs? If you’re running redundant power, are there two sets of outlets? If you need to install new power, make sure that you have the new circuits installed in advance of the move. Be aware that in some cases, electrical circuit installation could take several weeks.

4. Network connections – Do you have the proper T1 lines, routers, switches, and firewalls in place? What subnet is the machine going to be on and will it still be reachable from all the clients and companion servers that need to attach to it? Do you need any dial-up lines? If the machine is moving to another subset, will you need to change the IP addresses to match its new environment? If so, when will you change them and test the change to insure it works.

5. Cabinet security – Are you moving the machine from an internal data center to a hosted data center where other companies house their machines? If so, you’ll need to insure that your cabinet (or cabinets) have locks on their front and side doors and that the side panels also have locks so that no one can take off the side panel and remove any equipment. If you’re moving multiple cabinets, consider whether you need hardware to attach two cabinets together. While a managed hosted data center isn’t a public place, it will be visited by many people who have no connection to your organization. And your machine needs to be secured.

6. Processing plan for when your machines are in transit – If you’re moving a production machine, do you switch over to a backup machine while the machine is being moved to its new location? If the move is close, you may be able to get away with moving the machine early Sunday morning or on  a holiday. But if the machine is going cross-country, can your organization afford to do without a production environment until the hardware gets reinstalled?

7. Processing plan for testing the machine in its new location – How will you insure that the machine will both work correctly AND that it will still be able to connect to all its clients and companion servers after reinstallation?

8. Crash cart for reinstalling the machine – Do you have all the necessary equipment for moving and reinstalling the machine?

This is the basic template we started with for our move. Before the move, our production machine resided in the company data center on-premises at corporate headquarters. The backup CBU machine resided at a hosted outsourced data center. The move would flip-flop these locations so that after the move, the production machine will go to the outsourced data center and the CBU backup machine will move to the company data center. We are planning on performing this move in three steps. In my next post, I’ll recap how the first step went.

About Joe Hertvik

Joe is the owner of Hertvik Business Services, a service company providing written white papers, case studies, and other marketing content to computer industry companies. He is also a contributing editor for IT Jungle and has written the Admin Alert column for the past ten years. Follow Joe Hertvik on Twitter @JoeHertvik. Email Joe for a free quote on white papers, case studies, brochures, or other marketing materials.
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