Top 10 Tips You Need to Know About Data Migration

There are numerous triggering events that cause organizations to hop on the data center migration bandwagon. From end-of-lease circumstances to mergers and even simple business expansions, all of these events have the potential to initiate data migration. And whether you’re a pro at adopting cloud migration tactics or you’re lagging behind the competition, there’s one thing that always remains the same — preparation is key.

Let’s explore the top 10 tips both small and large enterprises need to know about data migration.

Tip #1: Review Current Regulatory Requirements

The first tip, and likely the most important, is to review current regulatory requirements. If you don’t know what your legal and contractual obligations are, then you are likely going to miss your key performance indicators (KPIs).

KPIs are essential to data migration because they serve as milestones you need to meet. Essentially, they are goals. As you meet them, you know you are on the right path of successfully migrating your data system.

Your KPIs should be application-, migration-readiness-, and deployment-related. Let’s take a look at a few of them.

Migration Readiness KPIs

  • General overall readiness status
  • Total number of users ready to migrate
  • Progress in weekly user acceptance testing
  • Addressment/correction of risks and issues
  • Compliance with regulatory standards and requirements
  • Compliance with termination clauses (if you are migrating from existing data center)

Deployment KPIs

  • General deployment status
  • Progress of deployment, both planned and unexpected progressions
  • Breakdown of weekly deployment progress
  • Average time per deployed assets
  • Number of assets deployed on a daily/weekly basis
  • Compliance with regulatory standards and requirements

Application KPIs

  • Daily/weekly packaging status and count
  • General application status
  • Planned vs. actual progress

Tip #2: Inventory of Hardware

Taking an inventory of your existing infrastructure equipment, including equipment servers, paints a clear picture of what you have to work with as well as where investments need to be made. In addition to servers, you need to take inventory of:

  • PCs
  • Web filters
  • DC network servers
  • Web server farms
  • Switches
  • Modems
  • Firewalls
  • DMZ servers
  • Load balancing devices
  • UPSes
  • Backup devices
  • Power distribution units

For each piece of hardware that you inventory, you need to include detailed information regarding its:

  • Machine manufacturer
  • Model number
  • Age of product and how long it has been in use
  • Operating system and version
  • IP information
  • Power requirements, including types of electrical connectors, wattage, voltage input and output, and pinpoint whether the piece needs single or redundant power supplies

Tip #3: Create an Overtime Schedule

Data center migration cannot take place without putting in overtime hours. Your employees will need to use their regular work hours to fulfill their regular job requirements while devoting overtime hours to data migration tasks. Because of this, it is best at the beginning of the migration process to create an overtime schedule for both end users and your support teams.

Due to application owner freezes, you can expect your overtime expectations to be exceeded in almost every phase related to application migration. With this in mind, always allow for extra overtime to be put into place as needed. And don’t forget that your data migration planning team will need several months to develop the actual migration plan.

Tip #4: Understanding What You're Working With

This tip is mainly directed to your data migration planning team. They must know what they are working with in regard to data to be able to create an effective migration plan.

First and foremost, they need to know the amount of data that is going to be migrated. Take for example the amount of data to be migrated is less than 32 gigabytes. In this type of situation, you may be able to implement a job that reads data sequentially and simply migrates it to the new platform.

If, however, you have terabytes or petabytes of data that need to be migrated, you will need to implement multiple jobs (trickle migrations) that divide the migration into small undertakings, all of which, though, can be run parallel to each other to ensure they are performed simultaneously and efficiently.

Tip #5: Data Validation Is a Must

You cannot risk losing customer data during the migration process and because of this, you need to put into a place an extensive validation plan; this includes tracking successfully migrated data as well as data that has encountered errors and issues. All of this information needs to be stored in a structured format, like JSON. Storing this information also allows you to perform redundancy checks. For example, you can query the Object Datastore to determine if a client’s data has already been migrated. Check out this comprehensive PDF from Microsoft that goes into great detail about data validation.

Tip #6: Understanding It's Going to Be a Lengthy Process

Unless you are a small business with very little data to migrate, you can expect the data migration process to be extremely long. This does not mean, however, that the migration has to negatively impact your productivity, especially if your planning team does a successful job planning the migration. 

Migrating to the cloud is much different than an on-premise migration in which the data can be directly loaded using an underlying database. With a cloud migration, there are several factors that limit the migration process, including:

  • Network latency
  • Application layers
  • Custom codes
  • Validations and triggers

There are system downtimes (outages) that must occur in order to migrate the data and it is best to schedule these outages according to time periods that coordinate best with your activities. Still yet, not all migration phases can be performed during outages; they must, instead, be conducted when users are online. This is why careful planning must take place to ensure optimal migration can be completed in a manner that coordinates well with your existing active and inactive work hours. 

Also, you must consider the fact that data migration is not a single process. It is ongoing and requires obtaining security accreditation as well as data access, both of which can be extremely complex even for data that is perceived to be owned by your company. And because agreements with third-party providers and suppliers must be obtained, this adds to the length of time it takes to successfully complete data migration.

Tip #7: Project Transparency Is Always Necessary

Another tip for successfully migrating data is to maintain transparency throughout the entire project. Not only does this expedite the process but it helps maximize your return on investment. From Day One of the project, you must put together a proven methodology that outlines to all stakeholders how the data migration will benefit them. More importantly, this methodology and all migration activities must be communicated using a clear voice and flexible enterprise reporting. Reporting allows for risks and issues to be pinpointed and addressed as they arise, allowing you to avoid larger problems that could possibly become present farther down the migration funnel.

Tip #8: Laser-Focus on Building Greater Modularity

Because application delivery optimization (ADO) is very delicate, you may come across the need for additional investments to address duplicate hardware issues you weren’t currently aware of. This is especially seen in organizations that use various forms of ADO technologies, like optimizers and load balancers.

To understand how you are going to manage your ADO migrations, you have to peel back their layers and take a close look at their intricate configurations. Ideally, you will want to make changes to their current configurations so that great modularity can be built, but you must laser-focus on these changes and put them into effect before greater modularity can be achieved.

Tip #9: Governance Is Vital to Successful Project Completion

Data migration projects will spiral out of control if you don’t put together some sort of governing framework. This framework must take into account all of your assets and it needs to outline specifics relating to any and all data-related policies and rules. An effective governing framework for data migration will include:

  • Enhancing project visibility and management
  • Putting together a carefully curated plan before initiating the project
  • Minimizing unpredictability

Without a governing framework, you risk:

  • Increasing delays
  • Cost overruns
  • Decreasing your ability to identify and mitigate risks
  • Expanding the scope and requirements of the project
  • Poor user adoption
  • Disruptive circumstances, which reduce productivity

Tip #10: View Migration as an Investment Instead of an Expense

Many organizations dread the thought of migrating data. Not only is it a lengthy process but it can be extremely costly. Data migration is essential to operations, though, because it can improve corporate performance and result in the development of a competitive advantage.

Data migration takes place when one or more systems are deployed in place of your legacy systems. In some cases, data migration doesn’t eliminate the use of a legacy system. Instead, it sits beside the legacy system and streamlines existing application processes.

Because data migration can improve operations, it should be viewed as an investment rather than an expense. In fact, data migration itself can serve as one of your most valuable assets when carried out effectively.

The Takeaway

As a final and bonus tip, it is recommended that you outsource data migration. You will need to team up with a service provider like Basic Solutions that specializes in data migration and has an extensive understanding of everything that could possibly go wrong. With proper preparation and a reputable and reliable service provider in your corner, data migration doesn’t have to be a headache. 

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