Strategies for successful data migration

With global data volumes now measured in zettabytes and growing rapidly, traditional enterprise IT systems will find it increasingly difficult to keep pace with them, leading to replacing servers and devices or moving to the cloud. Whichever path your business decides to take, data migration is inevitable.

However, data migration is a complicated and often expensive process. You’ll need the right approach to error-free data migration, including well-thought-out strategies and the right tools.

Read also : Best cloud migration providers and services

What is data migration?

Data migration refers to the process of moving data from one storage system to another. It starts with data selection and preparation, during which extraction and transformation take place. After this step, the permanent data is moved from the old storage system and loaded into an appropriate data store. Then, the data migration ends with decommissioning the old storage system.

Data migration generally falls into one of two categories:

  • Migration to the cloud: Data or applications are migrated from a physical storage system to the cloud or between two cloud environments.
  • Data Center Migration: Data is migrated from one on-premises data center to another for upgrade or relocation.

After deciding where you are going to migrate, you next need to determine what you need to migrate:

  • Storage migration: Data is moved from one physical storage solution to another.
  • Database migration: Structured or database managed data is moved using a database management system.
  • Migrating apps: Data is migrated from one computing environment to another to support a change in application software.
  • Migration of business processes: Business applications and data related to business processes and metrics are migrated.

Why do you need data migration?

Organizations choose to upgrade their storage systems and migrate data accordingly for several reasons that ultimately help them gain a competitive advantage. Database migration helps businesses overcome storage limitations and can facilitate improved data management functionality and processing speed. On the other hand, storage migration is mainly focused on upgrading to support new technologies.

Other scenarios where you might need data migration include:

  • You want to move to a new infrastructure to overcome size constraints.
  • You want to optimize the overhead costs associated with operating a data center.
  • You need to merge new data following an acquisition.
  • You need to move your data center.
  • You want to set up a disaster recovery solution.
  • You want to move an application to the cloud, for reasons ranging from maintainability and access to cost

Data Migration Strategies and Precursors

Strategizing ahead of time will help you save costs and prevent downtime to ensure business continuity. It’s essential to consider your limitations and understand the overall scope of your data migration project. There are two key factors you need to consider before starting a data migration project, namely size and time.

  • Data size: Most datasets are too large to simply upload to the cloud and will need to be shipped to physical devices. This is mainly due to speed and cost constraints. You can send data smaller than 10TB through standard drives, while larger petabyte-sized data will require specialized devices for data migration.
  • Time constraints: Network bandwidth, speed and limitations, and data set size are key considerations when calculating how long a data migration will take. If the data is to be shipped on physical devices, this time must also be considered.

After considering data size and time constraints, you can formulate your project budget and schedule. You also need to decide on the database migration tools and framework. This will give you an overview of the whole data migration process.

Additionally, you will also need to decide on the migration approach i.e. choose between the big bang approach and do it all at once or the trickle down approach – where you migrate in phases with both side-by-side systems.

Read also : 5 Cloud Migration Strategies

Data Migration Key Steps

Data migration is one of the most critical projects your business will undertake, requiring painstaking effort at every step. The reason for the complexity is that you don’t want to compromise data quality because data-driven businesses will otherwise experience errors in core operations.

After planning, there are approximately five additional steps for data migration:

  1. Data preparation involves some key actions to make data suitable for migration. Starting with the audit, an automated process is run to analyze data quality and notify you of any inconsistencies, duplicate entries, or poor status. Then you back up the files and establish the access levels.
  2. Data mapping involves matching the data field between the source and the new destination.
  3. Execution is where the data is extracted, processed and loaded to the destination.
  4. Trial is ideally an ongoing process of data migration, especially when migrating data in phases. After the entire migration process is complete, you should run another iteration of automated testing, fix issues, and go live.
  5. Audit the data again once it is online is necessary to ensure the success of the operation. You should also run timely audits and monitor system health.

Migration tools

There are many tools that can help you through the migration process. And many cloud providers offer their own set of tools. Other tools, including several free and open-source applications such as Salesforce’s Data Loader, are also available. Like migration types, migration tools can be self-scripted, on-premises, and cloud-based. Other major tools include Amazon’s AWS Data Pipeline, IBM Informix, and Microsoft Azure CosmosDB.

Read also : Successful cloud migration with automated discovery tools

Data Migration Challenges

Data migration is inherently complex, and there will likely be several challenges when performing this project in your organization.

  • Do not include affected parties could disrupt your business operations and the data migration process in general. Keep them updated weekly on progress.
  • Lack of data governance or clarity about who has access to the data in the source system can create confusion and affect data quality. A clearly defined data governance framework is key to overcoming this challenge.
  • A generic and unproven migration method could do more harm than good. Always look for a reliable service provider backed by testimonials and choose an experienced team.
  • Insufficient skills and inadequate tools can both cause unforeseen delays and cost you valuable time. Give it due research and ensure that the data migration team is sufficiently trained and has all the necessary tools.
  • Planning is essential. This may not be enough on its own to guarantee a successful migration, but it is necessary.

Ready to migrate your data?

Although data migration doesn’t sound too daunting in theory, it is a complex process with many variables that need to be determined beforehand. Therefore, you will need a dedicated team to execute and monitor the data migration process and treat it as a major project.

You can also take advantage of several premium and open-source apps to help you with your data migration. Like migration types, migration tools can be self-scripted, on-premises, and cloud-based, giving you great flexibility to migrate your data in the way that best suits your business.

Although this is a major undertaking, you can go ahead without hesitation once you think it through.

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