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Data Center Migrations

Data center migrations allow managers to optimize their financial and functional performance by implementing new physical and digital solutions. Data center equipment and applications should routinely be evaluated for effectiveness and efficiency in storing, protecting, and delivering data. Legacy data centers may need to expand, condense, relocate, or virtualize depending on their use case and specific constraints.

Types of Data Center Migrations

Physical to Physical (P2P) New hardware replaces existing, legacy devices. Servers may be at the end of their useful life, obsolete compared to modern processors, or incompatible with new systems or protocols. Facility size, equipment delivery, and location needs are P2P migration considerations.

Physical to Virtual (P2V) A transfer of data storage and management from a physical server to a “virtual machine” with diverse functionality. Hypervisor software handles multiple OS interfaces and provides an artificial layer of virtual computers and servers. Physical infrastructure is still needed, but it is leveraged for its raw storage capabilities and not for its interface.

Virtual to Virtual (V2V) Migrating from one virtual machine network to another may be necessary if competing server loads impact the ability to tap into the physical host server or perform certain workflows. Optimization opportunities, such as improved containerization schemes and software compatibilities, may also initialize a V2V shift.

Physical to Cloud (P2C) Transferring storage from onsite physical servers to the cloud is increasingly popular. Infrastructure and software platforms are run by a third-party provider and payment is subscription-based.

Virtual to Cloud (V2C) Public cloud platforms and remote software features are more efficient and offer more options than local virtual servers. Cloud resources also provide additional storage and features that facilitate the ability to scale.

Data Center Migration Strategies


An initial option is downsizing and centralizing assets via data center consolidation. The objective is an efficient use of physical space and virtual functions. Prior to moving servers and signing cloud contracts, data center managers should solve legacy infrastructure issues and reduce their overall footprint.

One aspect of consolidation is basic modernization. Virtual machines and new assets may eliminate some existing data center equipment. New devices are often leaner with more capacity. Upgraded IT schemes may result in fewer software licenses or on-site workers. Consider upgrading old equipment and implementing P2V options to eliminate operational redundancies.

Another consolidation approach is to combine facilities. Company mergers and acquisitions and prior data center expansions may have resulted in excessive assets. Bringing multiple data centers into one centralized location may result in less energy consumption and lower expenditures.


A physical data center relocation (P2P) might be warranted for an entire data center or certain components. When physical assets still provide reliable functionality but energy costs, space constraints, or other factors dictate a move, the decisions become where, how, and when to relocate. Options include colocating alongside other companies, renting a dedicated space, purchasing a facility, or building a new data center. Each of these comes with tradeoffs in capital expense and ongoing budget demands.

Colocation data center moves are popular. This strategy involves a shift to a shared facility involving multiple tenants, which leverages the site host’s economies of scale. Much of the physical data center upkeep is done by the colocation facility staff. Colocation appeals to IT professionals seeking reasonable fixed costs for physical security and high-level maintenance when day-to-day access to equipment is not required.

Some P2P moves are better suited to a dedicated data center facility than a colocation facility. Shared facilities may bring up security or compliance concerns, or the benefits of direct control and access outweigh their financial burden. A migration of this type will require in-depth coordination for installation and operations at the new facility.

Cloud Migration

Cloud migration can be done via public or private networks, a combination of the two, or among multiple unique cloud providers. Public cloud services are provided primarily by Big Tech firms. They have high standards for performance, reliability, and worldwide accessibility. Private clouds are localized networks that leverage onsite physical servers for regulatory compliance, security concerns, or elimination of local latency.

P2C migrations primarily consist of moving storage and application functions to public cloud servers. Local physical and virtual assets will be replaced by cloud resources, replacing the burden of physical infrastructure maintenance with subscription access.

V2C transfers functions from local virtual machines to public or private clouds, reducing the on-premises demand and enabling different operating schemes. Refactoring may be required during the migration to maintain the previous levels of functionality.

A data center’s operational needs will dictate the type of cloud services it uses. It may seem intuitive that all activities will migrate to a cloud environment, but data center managers will still need to provide the same level of scrutiny to cloud options as to other migration strategies. The cloud is not guaranteed to provide cost or operational benefits because it is dependent on daily demand profiles, scale of utilization, and application suitability.


A hybrid data center migration combines the approaches above into a more holistic strategy. Secure, local assets can be leveraged along with colocated servers and hybrid cloud operations. An optimal data operations framework will manage complex network demands to achieve the right balance of performance and cost and the right level of internal and external control.

The benefits of a hybrid approach include:

  • Multiple cost centers can improve accounting

  • Cloud provisions complement traditional mainframes

  • Growth plans utilize different solutions instead of only expanding existing systems

  • Diversified systems enhance reliability instead of relying on a single physical location or cloud provider

Better business and operational decisions can be realized by executing a hybrid data center migration strategy.

There are several types of typical data center migrations and strategies. The right migration approach will depend on physical, financial, and regulatory constraints that may result in a hybrid solution.

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