Relocating to a new space and the art of the IT move.
Moving is always a bit of an ordeal for small businesses. Typically the office manager is tasked with the job and the boss, being the boss, always wants the move done over the weekend with no interruption to the business and requiring the new location be up and running by Monday morning.
Is this even possible?
When moving to a new space it’s always smart to have your IT game plan figured out as much in advance as possible. Too many times the business owner thinks just a weekend will do the job and it’s just a matter of disconnect and re-connect. This typically is not a reality, but with a good game plan and some pre-planning you can come close to this.
As obvious as it seems many small businesses miss the most basic steps to a well thought out IT move.
As IT consultants we understand budget constraints or limited budgets, but we also recommend not cutting corners to save money. Moving is always a big expense. This is the time to get your IT right, or at the very least the “the bones” of your IT right. This includes your Internet connection, cabling, power and firewall and switch.
Do a site walk way before the move in date and take pictures of the new space. Where does the Internet connection come into the space? Where will the computers, printers, server and network equipment be placed? Do things need to be relocated?
Reach out to your existing Internet Service Provider (ISP) and make sure they can provide service to your new location. If they can’t, find out what ISP serves that area. Have your Internet connection installed and up and running before you move in. Verify it works by testing the connection and speed.
Remember depending on your network setup, firewall and router you will need to determine if your ISP needs to provide you with a new static IP (as opposed to dynamic) or multiple static IP’s. If you require static IP’s, the likelihood of keeping the same IP’s you currently have are virtually nil. New IP’s mean that you will need to re-configuration your firewall. Depending on the make and complexity of your firewall and the ability to contact and work with the ISP tech support, this may take some time. You don’t want to be doing this on the day of the move and remember in most cases tech support with the firewall vendors and ISP’s is usually degraded over a weekend and should factor into the scope of the move.
This may be a good time to purchase a new generation firewall instead of moving the existing unit from the old location. By purchasing a new generation firewall you can have if configured, in place and tested before you move to your new location, often saving time, frustration and stress.
How is the network cabling at the new location? Does it suite your vision of the new office layout or does it need work. Network cabling is really important to get right. If you are moving into an older warehouse or office without updated cabling you need to consider the cost for replacing this.
You don’t want a lot of long drop cables strung around the office or factory floor. A 3’ to 7’ foot cable from the computer to the wall jack is all you should need and see. The same with power cables, avoid at all costs extension cords and definitely no daisy chaining of power strips. Every computer should have its own dedicated computer wall jack. We often see businesses using a single wall jack with a small switch.
The problem with this setup, although sometimes required, if you have 4 computers attached to a single switch and the switch fails, then all devices connected to the switch lose connectivity. These small switches are often hidden behind desks in a tangle of wire, ignored and forgotten with no surge protection and when they fail, no one remembers where to look for the switch.
The idea is to limit points of failure. This is achieved by having each computer or network printer use its own dedicated network connection.
We always recommend having one dedicated network cable drop per computer and one dedicated network cable drop per MFP (Multifunction Printer). A MFP is primarily a more robust printer/scanner/copier that is centrally located and accessed by most team members/staff. Many small businesses have one or more main printers and then some additional personal printers attached directly to computers.
Remember the MFP needs a power outlet.
Cleary you will need to do a site walk of the new location and have a plan of where the desks, computers, printers, server and network equipment will be located. Sometimes spaces are reconfigured or updated for the new tenant. This is a chance to configure your space as you require.
Look where the existing power outlets are located. A duplex power outlet should be located close to where the computer is going to be. At a minimum you will need power for your computer, monitor and printer (if required).
We recommend using a surge/spike protector power strip and plugging your equipment into this for added protection against power fluctuation. Remember surge/spike protectors lose their effectiveness over several years and essentially just becomes a plug strip with no ability to protect your computer from power surges. These devices are typically inexpensive and can purchased and placed before the move.
The location of the server needs to be considered. Although not always possible, the best case scenario is to have your network server located in a lockable room, in rack or cage. All too often we find servers stuffed into a closest with almost no accessibility or under the receptionist desk. Remember servers generate a lot of heat and operate best in an air conditioned room with circulating air. The larger the server the more important this becomes. Power needs to be considered as well, again depending on the size of the server and the amount of redundant power supplies, battery backup and other network devices. The amount of power coming to the location of server and equipment also needs to be considered. Some large battery backups need additional power in order to run.
Who’s moving your computers and printers and network equipment? Often you can trust your moving company to move your smaller printers and computers and monitors. However some leased MFP’s have written into the contact that these devices can only be moved by authorized technicians. If you are an engineering/architecture firm or a company that uses a plotter and leases the equipment this almost always applies.
We suggest your IT Company moves your server and not leave this task to your moving company. Verify you have a fresh backup before you shut down the server and move it. It is critical you are confident that you can restore data or have a plan for getting your data onto another device if your server fails to come online after the move.
A better idea.
We like the Cloud for so many reasons and having your server in the Cloud solves the big move problem.
You don’t have to deal with as many of disconnect, re-connect issues you as would find with a premise server or the worry of damaging or dropping the server during transportation. The IT move becomes much less stressful and you can put most of your energy in making sure your Internet connection is good and your firewall is configured properly. There is no need to have a special room dedicated to your server and UPS/battery backup and dedicated air conditioning.
Remember the art of a good IT move requires good preparation beforehand and a simple game plan.
Being mindful of what needs to be done and when. Have a list and then mentally walk through the steps beforehand and visualize the process. We have found that breaking down the steps and adding a time competent to each step can really help define the scope of the project and determine how many people it will take to make it happen within the time frame you have chosen.