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VICTORIA KLEINBORT: 5 Most Common Mistakes When Migrating IT Infrastructure (And How to Avoid Them)


For contemporary organizations, digital transformation is unavoidable. Many businesses are increasingly migrating their IT infrastructure for business continuity, improved performance, reduced costs, and enhanced security and compliance. In Africa, businesses have reported 51-75% business growth because of cloud migration.  

However, migrating IT infrastructure can be difficult and daunting when done incorrectly. 

According to a 2023 state of the cloud report, migration is a top challenge for organizations. Another research by Modernization Business Barometer says more than 75% of organizations start but fail to complete at least one modernization program. 

Unfortunately, even the most experienced companies can face challenges and mistakes during infrastructure migration, leading to data loss and downtime. This makes it critical to learn the common IT infrastructure migration mistakes that other companies make so that you can prevent them. 

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In this guide, we discuss the five most common mistakes companies make when migrating IT infrastructureand how you can avoid them. 

1. Not conducting a thorough assessment of the current infrastructure

One of the most common mistakes companies make when migrating IT infrastructure is a lack of thoroughly assessing their current IT infrastructure. So they get on board with a migration project without understanding their existing infrastructure—hardware, software, and network systems. 

Mostly, they meet with issues that lurked in their systems channels, network settings, security settings, or the codes, as some parts of the application may be hard-coded but were never discovered before the migration started. 

To avoid such a mistake, conduct a comprehensive assessment of the existing infrastructure to enable proper planning and risk reduction. Study all the processes to be migrated, find current weaknesses, and document your findings. Assessing your systems helps you identify potential vulnerabilities and risks that can occur during or hinder the migration process. 

2. Not treating migration as a full-fledged project with its own strategy and deadlines

Another common mistake in IT infrastructure migration is the failure to treat migration as a key project with an expert team, strategies, and workable milestones. Taking migration lightly can easily lead to data loss, delays, error-prone procedures, and downtime. For example, TSB Bank experienced a major system failure due to a botched migration process. 

Furthermore, migrating IT infrastructure is a complex process requiring significant time and resources. Failure to allocate the necessary time and resources means underestimating the process time and budget, resulting in delays, cost overruns, and other problems. 

To avoid this mistake, it is mission-critical to take your migration project with the seriousness it deserves. Ensure you create a proper migration plan, including timelines, milestones, and contingency plans. Propose criteria for assessing the expected results at each stage. It doesn’t matter where or how you are migrating, whether it happens seamlessly or with a little downtime—the process must be divided into stages. 

What should be reflected in your plan:

  • The current state of the infrastructure
  • Migration requirements 
  • Migration approach and sequence: Phases including the first to last 
  • Deadlines for the project as a whole and for each stage separately.
  • Plan B—what to do if things go wrong.

Migration should be handled by at least two people: the project manager and the migration executor. You can compare migrating infrastructure to flying a plane. Two pilots are always in the cockpit, each backing the other up. What one may miss, the other will notice. 

If your team does not have a project manager, you can entrust this role to one of the sysadmins to monitor the executor and ensure they don’t fall behind the set timelines. Migrating the infrastructure piece by piece, at a relaxed pace, will help avoid mistakes and hard backtracking to step one.

3. Not using a reliable software stack

Many companies and IT professionals also make the mistake of using the wrong migration tools. The right migration tools help you gather, prepare, and extract your information from one site to another.

Be sure to choose tools that are easy to use. That means avoiding tools that are difficult to implement and manage. 

We recommend that you first create an exact copy of the infrastructure and try to migrate it using the software of your choice. The essential thing is to create an environment that mimics the real situation as closely as possible. 

If you are moving to a “far off’ location, deploy the test environment in the same data center or a space with similar parameters to observe the same network latencies. Migration is not the time to experiment. If you are not used to implementing a specific solution, you must thoroughly research and test it.

4. Failing to test the migration process

Failing to test the migration process is another huge mistake when undertaking a migration. Some businesses have experienced unexpected issues and downtime due to inadequate testing during IT migration. 

Testing is crucial in migration because it helps identify challenges and ensure a smooth transition. 

Conduct comprehensive testing on your deployed infrastructure before going live to avoid this mistake. This includes testing for applications performance, security, and compatibility with other systems and networks. You can create a test environment replicating your existing infrastructure and test the migration process systematically before deploying it in the production environment. 

This plan should also include a testing phase to ensure the new infrastructure will work as intended. You can achieve this through a dedicated team of migration testing experts who design, oversee, monitor, and handle issues that arise in the data migration testing process to ensure a successful migration process. 

5. Not having a backup plan in place

Organizations also make the mistake of not backing up all the stages of their IT infrastructure migration through a rollback plan. Failure to have a rollback plan can also lead to data loss and extended system downtime. 

Don’t move without a rollback plan to avoid this mistake. Create a detailed rollback plan outlining the exact steps to take in case of challenges or failure. Unfortunately, only 50% of business organizations have a disaster recovery plan. 

It’s essential to back up your data before starting any infrastructure migration process in case it is unsuccessful. We also recommend making subsequent backup implementations after each successful migration stage. It is better to postpone the migration whenever backup fails, as the consequences can be disastrous for your infrastructure systems. 

Do I have to move the infrastructure myself?

Migration can be done independently, but in some cases, it is better to seek professional help from migration experts. You can consider working with migration experts when: 

  1. The cost of a mistake is too high, i.e., the downtime will be a serious detriment to your business. Sometimes an expensive migration is cheaper than downtime.
  2. You don’t have enough employees to migrate your infrastructure. If you have one overworked sysadmin staying up all night, they’ll probably make a mistake somewhere. 
  3. You need an outside perspective on migrating your infrastructure. When you’ve been working with the system for a long time, it’s hard to be a detached observer. Outside migration specialists have a better chance of noting migration issues you may not easily identify. 
  4. Your employees lack the competence or experience to migrate infrastructure on their own. 

Conclusion 

Nearly every IT infrastructure migration project is more complicated than it seems. As a complex process, migration requires careful planning, testing, and execution, without which it’s easy to make the mistakes we have discussed above. Avoiding these mistakes can ensure a smooth migration process that maintains a stable IT infrastructure with minimized systems downtime. 

Victoria Kleinbort is the Country Manager for Kenya at Servercore.

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