Blog: What type of data center migration should I execute?
Author: Migration Services Group

What type of data center migration should I execute?

Data center migrations come in many forms, and the reasons for executing a data center migration are even more numerous. From server sprawl to security and mergers and acquisitions, a data center migration can be the answer to a multitude of IT headaches facing large organizations. Deciding on the right type of migration, however, is the challenge. Executed properly, the right type of migration ensures organizational goals are met, resources are wisely spent, and stakeholder expectations are realized.

A key question to ask when considering what type of migration to execute is, “Why are we initiating a data center migration?” 

 55% of data centers will be forced to modernize
"In the next two years, 55 percent of organizations will be forced to modernize their data centers."


For a large number of organizations, there is a need to modernize to keep pace. IDC predicts that, in the next two years, 55 percent of organizations will be forced to modernize their data centers. Enterprises are increasingly discovering that their legacy equipment and systems are not supported by new data center infrastructure or are not compatible with new data center security policies.

Other reasons to execute a data center migration are mergers and acquisitions (M&As) and growth. With an M&A, there may be a need to consolidate data centers, while business growth could initiate a data center move or build. Regardless of the initiative, enterprises are finding themselves in need of a data center overhaul that increases agility, reduces costs, and speeds time to market.

Migration Types

Organizations spend millions planning and executing migrations that don’t deliver on expectations. To avoid this, evaluate the following factors before deciding on the right migration types for your project.

Expectations Delivered
"Evaluate the following factors before deciding on the right migration types for your project."

  • What are your business goals and requirements?
  • What pain points are you seeking to remediate in your current operating environment?
  • What does your current IT landscape look like?
  • What is your time line, risk tolerance, and budget?
The type of migration an enterprise executes depends on all the variables above, along with various other individual needs of the enterprise as a whole. Below is a list of the most common types of data center migration types.


“Friends don’t let friends build data centers.” This statement by Infor CEO Charles Phillips at Amazon Web Services conference in 2014 might ring true for some companies, but large enterprises with a significant data center footprint aren’t ready to turn their backs on the traditional data center. In some cases, it might be cheaper to operate your own. In the case of consolidation, the data center isn’t abandoned but scaled back. Typically prompted by mergers and acquisitions, server sprawl, and desire to increase density via virtualization, a data center consolidation reduces the number of physical data centers or servers. It gives enterprises the opportunity to take what data center assets they have, possibly across multiple data centers, and scale down, saving money and increasing efficiencies in the process. Some of the primary benefits of a data center consolidation include:

  • Less hardware
  • Power savings
  • Smaller network 
  • Lower facility costs
  • Reduced cooling loads
  • Fewer software licenses
  • Reduction in manpower

  The global data center colocation market is expected to grow by 17%
"The global data center colocation market is expected to grow by 17%"

-Stratistics MRC


A once in a career event that requires meticulous planning, a data center relocation involves moving infrastructure from a source data center to a target data center—only two data centers are involved in a relocation. In some cases, the target site could be a colocation facility, an increasing popular choice in the case of mergers and acquisitions and a smart choice for OpEx  companies. According to a report by Stratistics MRC, the global data center colocation market is expected to grow 17 percent through 2022, increasing from $29.83 billion to $76.37 billion. Driving the trend upwards, the report says, is rising cloud usage and low upfront capital costs. On the other hand, cyberattacks and government regulations are a common colocation market deterrent for banks and other companies in highly regulated industries.

Whether your organization is moving to a newly built data center or colocation facility, or migrating to a new location, relocating a data center is one of the most rigorous activities an IT professional will experience. Customer and corporate data is at risk; equipment could be damaged in a physical move; and downtime is a very real possibility. The good news is that, done right, a data center relocation is a uniquely rewarding experience with long-term organizational benefits. Below are the most common methods of relocation:

  • Physical-to-physical (p2p or forklifts) 
  • Physical-to-virtual (p2v)
  • Virtual-to-virtual (v2v) 
  • Physical-to-cloud (p2c) 
  • Virtual-to-cloud (v2c) 

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Migration Strategy Board /


Enterprise cloud spend continued to grow in 2017, and there are few signs that this trend is slowing. According to RightScale’s 2018 State of Cloud Report, 26 percent of enterprises spent more than $6 million annually on public cloud; 52 percent spent more than $1.2 million. While cloud is the right choice for certain workloads, it’s not always the answer. Seventy-seven percent of respondents to the RightScale survey named security as a top concern, while 76 percent of respondents named cloud spend as a challenge. Despite both challenges and risks, enterprises believe in the cloud, and they’re migrating in large numbers.

A cloud migration involves moving applications, infrastructure, workloads, and systems from a physical or virtual location to a cloud environment, or from one cloud to another. When considering a cloud migration, it’s critical to assess your applications and their suitability for the cloud. Will they be stable? Will they require refactoring? If you need to get out of the cloud, is there an exit door? A common misconception about cloud is that it’s less expensive than hosting on premise. Not so. If it isn’t carefully managed, cloud spend can get out of hand. Still, cloud offers considerable benefits:

  • On-demand self service
  • Broader network access
  • Resource pooling
  • Rapid elasticity
  • Measured/metered services


Few organizations today would describe their operating environments as “clear cut.” Most organizations are hybrid with various cloud platforms and services (IaaS, PaaS, SaaS), owned and operated data centers, and colocation facilities. The trick is rationalizing all these resources in a way that brings value to the organization and doesn’t turn the operating environment into unintelligible chaos. Done right, a hybrid IT data center offers flexibility and scalability to rapidly respond to changing market needs.

For hybrid to be successful, it has to be intentional, architected deliberately, and built to mold a mixed environment into a cohesive whole. Whether your organization is intentionally or accidentally hybrid, it’s critical to align technology choices to business goals. A right-sized hybrid data center offers:

  • Agility
  • Elasticity
  • Speed to market
  • Increased innovation
  • Risk tolerance
In most cases, a business will require a hybrid migration with multiple migration methods...

Choosing a migration type

Selecting the right migration type is one of the many decisions an organization must make in the course of a migration project. In most cases, a business will require a hybrid migration with multiple migration methods, such as virtual to virtual, physical to virtual, physical to cloud, public cloud to private cloud, forklift, etc...

Each business and operating environment is unique, with its own set of requirements, IT assets, and challenges. For example, if you have minimal downtime allowances for client-facing services, a physical relocation might be out of the question. However, if you have a limited budget and a short time frame in which to execute a migration, a physical relocation could be the right fit for back-office applications. We recommend using a migration matrix that maps your business requirements to the optimal migration paths.

For help with your migration matrix, please contact us. We can share an example of a migration matrix we've used to help ensure you deliver on business and technical expectations.

Foundations of a Data Center Migration Project /