What to Expect
During a Web Platform Hosting Migration
Open Professional Group is dedicated to providing customers with a migration from one hosting environment to another in as uneventful a manner as possible. It is important that everyone involved work together to ensure an effective transfer of information. No matter if you are migrating one website, one server or a collection of servers, OPG works hard to make the process as simple as possible.
For timeline, the migration will dictate how long it will take. For a simple single website this might be a few days, and for a complex server infrastructure it could take several weeks. The time required will change depending on the size and type of migration being completed. Above all, the most effective tool in minimizing or eliminating delays is communication. OPG will provide ongoing updates to ensure the needed information, data, access, and planning is in place to complete the process.
Some Common Goals and Reasons for a Migration
- Speed / Bandwidth
- Uptime (too much downtime currently)
- Scalability / Growth Potential
- Customer Support
- Upgrades (in hardware, software or both) for Performance
- Current Hosting Restrictions
- Support for specific scripting languages or tools (PHP, CGI, Perl or ASP)
The steps to a migration seem complex, and OPG tries to make these steps as simple to execute as possible, and aims to offload any tasks that OPG can do on your behalf where appropriate.
Information Collection – Getting Prepared
There are several preparation steps that should be performed and particular information that needs to be gathered before a migration takes place.
- Creating Site Backups – As part of the prep, OPG will create a backup of your platform before any other works is done. This will include all files and databases, along with any appropriate configuration items.
- Tidy Up & Purge: This is a good time to “tidy up” your server by purging it of unnecessary and unused items which will free up space on your server and possibly improve performance and reduce errors. OPG can work with you to perform this task if you wish.
- If you’re moving to a new host, the new hosting account will be created, servers will be provisioned and configured and prepared to accept the platform content. OPG will advise you as to when you should inform the old host that you would like to cancel. This is to prevent the old host from “accidentally” cancelling your hosting service before you are fully migrated.
- If you let your visitors know you’re moving your website to a new web host to provide them with a better experience, they will be much more forgiving during any downtime if they are made aware of the move and the benefits to them. We suggest that you post a prominent message on your website, write a blog post about the move, and/or send an email to all of your email subscribers. You can use this opportunity to also make the move an event by having a pre and/or post moving sale.
- OPG will review your systems and list any third-party software that is installed, APIs you’re connected with and the like. OPG will then go over this information with you to see if it is still being utilized.
- OPG will perform updates on the current server and correct any possible issues. These are items such as:
- WordPress – install the most recent version
- Update Plugins – delete any unused
- To make the process easier for you, OPG will always try to acquire the information necessary to perform the migration when reviewing your systems. However, we may need some additional information from you.
Preliminary Data Migration
After OPG compares and verifies the software versions of your server (source server) are the same (or compatible) with the new server (destination server), OPG will pull all of your data from the source server and restore your sites and information on the destination server. Ultimately, the goal is to have the destination server function identically to the source server. It is important to note that any issues or error messages that currently reside on the source server will be replicated on the destination server which is why it is important to perform updates on the source server and correct any possible issues during this process. Once the data is migrated to the new servers, OPG will validate the data and functionality of the new servers.
Data Validation & Internal Testing
Once all of the data is migrated from the source server to the destination server, OPG will verify all of the source information is in place and accessible on the destination server. After the validation is complete, OPG will perform basic testing to ensure the site’s functionality and the environment is the same on the destination server as it was on the source server. OPG will notify you when the internal testing is complete and we are ready for you to start testing.
There is no better tester than the web platform owner, which is why OPG wants you to test your site thoroughly. This is your chance to verify that all of the data is on the destination server and is accessible. This will be done without impact to your live site. During this time of testing it is best that your team check to ensure all of the expected functionality is present on the destination server. Try to pay attention to:
- Error messages (these are normal – just be sure to provide example in your documentation for us to review)
Be sure to document anything that is missing or not working and send it to OPG to investigate and resolve.
Remember: In order to keep the process moving as swiftly as possible, it is important to start the testing on your end as soon as you are informed and make it a priority. OPG will assist you with gaining proper access to the new hosting platform.
Review of Client Testing
OPG will review the testing document and examples and then investigate and resolve any issues. Once the issues are resolved and approved by you, OPG will gain your approval and work with your team to schedule the “go-live” of the new platform. Please note, in many cases the test/review process can go through several rounds depending upon the feedback received.
Notification to Customers and Quiet Period
Once a go live date is confirmed, it is ideal to notify your customers that the migration will be happening during a given window. If you believe that this will required one hour, tell the customers it will require two. It is better to set a longer window of expectation and finish early than to have to extend. During the actual migration, all traffic to the platform is typically stopped to prevent any data loss and to allow the maintenance to occur without live traffic affecting the final data transfers. Once the data has been migrated one final time, OPG will proceed with any DNS changes needed to truly make the new platform “live.”
OPG will initiate the domain name record changes required to make the new platform live. OPG will handle this action for you, but will require access to your DNS provider, which will be gathered much earlier in the process.
Monitor for the Domain Name Change
OPG will monitor the domain name change after it has been initiated. Once the change has been initiated, it will typically take only a few minutes to reflect for most users, but OPG always suggests that a period of several hours be allowed so that DNS servers that cache their information have time to be updated. This period is called propagation – it is simply the time it takes for all the DNS servers around the globe to “catch up” and take note of these new DNS records or changes. During this time, the “old” site will remain “stopped” to prevent any traffic or data from reaching this environment.
Once the DNS changes are made, the testing would focus on all areas of the stack affected, which can include:
- Website (company.com)
- Ecommerce (store.company.com)
- Domain pointers (company2.com points to company1.com)
- Subdomains (intranet.company.com)
- Email ([email protected]) – POP accounts, email forwards, and autoresponders
Yes, there is a cost for OPG to perform a migration. The cost will depend on the size and complexity of the migration, any special considerations, and the amount of your participation in the migration process. Before any work begins, OPG will provide a statement of work that describes the scope of the migration project and the associated cost. Of course, any special circumstances or unforeseen complications that arise can affect the amount of effort involved and in turn, the cost.
Every migration is different. Some migrations take only a day or two, others take weeks of planning and execution. The key is knowing the specific migration circumstances and a few other variables. Some include:
Server Performance and Amount of Data: Copying data can take a few minutes to several hours depending on the server’s performance and the sheer amount of data that has to be duplicated.
Your Availability: After the data is migrated and tested internally, you will need to conduct a thorough review of the data and site functionality. Depending upon your availability, your testing may reduce or add time overall to the migration process. OPG will investigate and resolve any reported issues in a timely manner. You will control the pace of this testing as there is no time limit on this phase, and the pace is entirely up to you. OPG will not proceed to the next step until the issues are resolved and approved by you. Once you have approved the migration data and functionality on the destination server, a scheduled DNS change will start on the agreed upon date.
The “size” of the migration (e.g. one website or 30 servers): This is perhaps the most key point of change in timeline. Obviously, simple migrations for one small website move much faster than a multi-server platform and architecture migration.
No long-term downtime is usually experienced due to proper preparation. However, you should expect to have at least some period of downtime during the final live cutover to allow for data to be refreshed. For much more complex migrations the window for downtime may be longer, but typically the outside down time is a handful of hours, but for most, it is far less. Once the details of the migration are known, the downtime can be more accurately predicted.
OPG will monitor the server logs with the old provider and ensure the traffic to the old provider remains zero. OPG will notify you when you can confidently shut down your old hosting infrastructure. This is typically between a few days and a few weeks, depending on the size and complexity of the migration.
Yes, that is the goal. Once all of the data is migrated from the source server to the destination server, OPG will verify all of the source information is in place and accessible on the destination server. After the validation is complete, OPG will perform basic testing to ensure the site’s functionality and the environment as a whole is the same on the destination server as it was on the source server. OPG will also have you test to ensure the data and functionality on the new server is the same before it proceeds.
The live migration is performed as the last step. When this is done is during the “go live” window. This is typically done outside of peak traffic times to minimize customer impact. This will be coordinated with your team as part of the migration plan.
With the checks and balances we’ve put in place, nothing should go ALL wrong. The new server is set up and fully tested before the “go live” occurs, so if anything does not happen to work properly on the new server, it will be corrected before we proceed to go live. Should something go wrong at the “go live” migration, OPG would simply restart traffic on the old environment and function would return. This is rarely required.
Your Account Managers and Program Managers are always here and available to help you with any questions you may have or to assist in resolving any problems you may encounter.