How Much Should Your Data Center Move Cost?

$1.2 million dollars?

If you don’t care about the process you use, the complexity of the move, or the consequences of inaccurate projections, does it really matter what number you place on your PowerPoint slide?

Here’s the problem: Data center moves are complicated. Budgeting before you know the specific complications of your own move is going to produce an imprecise number. That imprecise number will result in poor decisions because you are blind to the impacts that will increase the costs.

No one wants to build a detailed move plan first and then a corresponding cost model to arrive at a number that typically increases as more is discovered along the journey. They want a precise budget number and they want to skip all the steps required to arrive at that precision. Including the step of paying to arrive at the budget number.

Go ahead and search online and you’ll find you can’t answer the cost question in a few minutes. There is no easy button!

The fact remains that your costs are entirely dependent on HOW you intend to accomplish the data center move.

I haven’t met an Executive yet who likes the idea of investing in building a data center move plan before a legitimate budget can be estimated. But those that do are rewarded with a realistic view of their costs and more importantly their risks.

That resulting cost model is an essential tool but still contains a flaw. The model will still not reflect what actually has to be spent to move successfully.

Why is that?

Because cost models assume your plan will be implemented perfectly. Everything will go according to plan and cost. All contingency and uncertainty will have been considered to arrive at a single number.

Do you live in this perfect world? Where everything goes perfectly and on or under budget?

I don’t. That’s one of the reasons I wrote “What Everybody Ought to Know Before Moving a Data Center” to illuminate the complexities to consider as you approach each move phase.

Consider solving for a successful move instead of guessing at a budget number. 

  1. Understand what you are moving – Fundamentally, you’re not moving machines, you’re moving applications. These applications affect your business in different ways. They differ in their complexity and their tolerance for downtime. A simple physical inventory isn’t going to help you capture these details. Dive deeper.
  2. Assess your internal skills honestly – Do you have the necessary skills (both technical and project management) to plan and execute the move? Identify the skill gaps with the understanding that it will take lead time (and money) to fill them.
  3. Construct and use a written move plan – Would it surprise you to learn that many organizations simply do not document their move plan? The reasons are varied but often the technical staff are left to their own devices. The pressures of their full time jobs combined with the full time job of moving a data center leads to shortcuts and blunders. A written move plan is essential to holding down costs and mistakes.

So how much will the data center move cost?

Build your move plan first and then base your costs on the methods chosen to move your data center.

Tell Me More

Considerable insight can be learned from others. Do you have a data center move budget story or lessons learned from your move? I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.

[This post originally shared on the LinkedIn platform.]

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