We have about 15 Windows 2003 and 2008 servers at our data center, which host hundreds of different sites and databases. We have to move them to a new rack from 5th floor to 3rd floor. This move possibly involves switching off power and/or network for a while.

I want to keep the servers on while we do the move. Can anyone suggest how to do this? Please dont hesitate to also give other important tips and tricks which can help automate as many things as possible.

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    In Stargate there was a shaft that they used to raise and lower the gate into Stargate Command with a crane. Any chance you could just cut holes in the floor? – Bart Silverstrim Feb 1 '12 at 14:27
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    You want to move the servers while the disks are spinning? Seriously?!? I'm having problems expressing the feelings that are running wildly through my veins right now.. – pauska Feb 1 '12 at 14:29
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    Raj, don't do this - seriously, don't even think about it, it's beyond stupid. This site is for professionals ok, now go on, do it better than this, be a pro dude. – Chopper3 Feb 1 '12 at 14:33
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    He wasn't going to drag them. That would be silly. They have an elevator. – Bart Silverstrim Feb 1 '12 at 14:57
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    i really want to do this guys!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! – Raj Feb 1 '12 at 17:19

It can be done. Some guys did it to a server in Germany.

You need to be sure that

a) Your server has dual powersupplies.. So that you can unplug one, and connect a UPS, before disconnecting it from the mains.

b) You can support traffic over a 3G connection, and set up routing as such.

  1. Then you grab a UPS, make sure it's charged, put it on a trolley.
  2. Connect it to the PSU in the datacentre (might be needed to start the UPS)
  3. Connect one PSU on the server to the UPS
  4. Allow stuff to stabilise.
  5. Connect the 3G and configure routing. Unplug the network.
  6. Check it's still up.
  7. De-rack it, and get it onto the trolley..
  8. Move it.
  9. Reassembly and re-racking is the reverse of the above.

I don't recommend it, but it can be done.

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  • If there are people paying him to keep the sites up...that's definitely not a good idea to do this... – Bart Silverstrim Feb 1 '12 at 14:49
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    I love the idea of doing it though. – Tom O'Connor Feb 1 '12 at 14:56
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    You forgot to include the part where the germans drank heavily before deciding this was a good idea to implement, though. – Bart Silverstrim Feb 1 '12 at 15:02
  • Huge +1 for the "it can be done" link. <3 – ceejayoz Feb 1 '12 at 15:09
  • ...and he's going to route traffic over 3G or any other connection for an unbroken service while moving it back to wired...this could definitely prove interesting. – Bart Silverstrim Feb 1 '12 at 19:42

Schedule downtime and move them as quickly as possible while not screwing up and damaging them in your haste.

Buy some heavy duty servers and migrate some servers to virtual servers to host on the new datacenter. Switch off old systems. Migrate database servers by setting up replication and having them migrate automatically then shut off the master and move it down to the new datacenter and bring it back up.

...really really long power cables. And network cables.

That's about all I could think of. Downtime and move them, virtualize/replicate them to the second site before shutting down the old, and really long rube goldberg ways of moving them while on, which as others pointed out, will give you about a 80% of screwing up and severely damaging the servers.

Or you could buy new hardware and test your backup strategy by restoring to the new location and shutting down the old.

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Honestly, Don't!

It's more trouble to keep em running then you'd like!

  • Network connectivity:
    wifi: won't be strong enough to get trough the 2 floors of datacenter (remember wifi is meant to be line of sight) and might not be allowed in some dc's
    wire: you most likely aren't allowed to keep the doors of the dc's open and you'll get some really weird looks from dc staff.

  • Power:
    wire: again the doors and weird looks...
    ups/battery: to really keep uptime you possibly need to switch to a REALLY BIG ups and if you don't have redundant power supplies that is just not going to happen without shutting down.

  • Risks:
    Sure most professional disks will go into 'park' mode when detecting shocks or movement but that still means that data won't be written. and if this technology fails or just isn't in time you will scratch the actual disks and cause data corruption!

  • Uptime and moving:
    If you trough all this still manage to keep power and network.
    Now you need a way to move the 15 servers and networking equipment all at once keeping them together because your servers also rely on connectivity between each other to work (nas, database, load balancers, etc.).

Now if you still have found a way to do this and are insane enough to risk doing it.
Give your customers a notice that you might have a possible downtime within a certain 24 hour window.
Maybe all goes well... maybe you knock one of your servers over and damage the components inside.

Honestly. just schedule downtime and do it the proper way.
Risking completely losing data and/or equipment is way worse then a day of downtime.

All in all, it's a good question and don't feel ashamed for asking because it's good to question what is possible.

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  • It'd be ok (read, less bad) if they were all SSDs.. – Tom O'Connor Feb 1 '12 at 15:18
  • True, sadly having TerraBytes of data on ssd's still isn't affordable by any means. – HTDutchy Feb 1 '12 at 15:29

Why do they need to be switched on? Moving powered on servers seems like you're asking for trouble. I wouldn't want to move a server up 2 floors that still have spinning disks in them. Not to mention the fact that there wouldn't be any network connectivity during the move, so what's the benefit?

Schedule downtime for the cutover, or do the move in sections and do it right.

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One other option would be to replace all those servers with fewer and do the move in one go by virtualising the servers using a P2V tool. Basically setup the new servers on the new floor and do a live P2V conversion from the old floor. You'll see a little downtime as the new server boots up and you stop the old one but it's a good way of killing two birds with one stone.

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