8 things you need for an effective data migration

7 July 2017 by Mark Williams

As a small business owner,  you're always looking for ways to disrupt your indsutry - whether that be through innovative products, stand out services or even new technology. But is technology disrupting you? 

Many businesses don’t realise that they may face disruption at the hands of their own aging technology. Legacy systems can seriously disrupt your business and put you at a competitive disadvantage, especially in today's fast-paced, tech driven world. 

But upgrading or implementing a new system and IT infrastructure is not without it's challenges, especially when you've got data to consider. This is where data migration comes in.

A data migration is the process of transferring data between different systems (such as storage systems), file formats or even locations. It's a common thing to do when you're:

  • Replacing your server or storage equipment
  • Performing maintence or upgrades on your IT infrastructure
  • Undergoing an application migration
  • Moving premises or relocating to a new data centre

Performing a data migration as part of a wider IT system upgrade is good practice, but it also brings some other benefits to your business:

  • Cost savings. Although migration has an up-front cost, there are potential savings through data consolidation. This can result in a reduction in the number of servers required and, therefore, storage space.
  • Improved security. A more modern data server, whether physical or cloud-based, will likely be more secure than your old setup. Your data is important, and migration ensures its safety.
  • Increased efficiency. Migration allows you to find and fix inefficiencies in your IT systems, requirements and processes.

Despite the benefit it brings, one of the biggest mistakes a business can make is to make light of the data migration process. It is not easy, and it involves a few complex technical activities - such as mapping, data extraction, loading and verification - to pull it off.  That's why it's important to have an IT partner and a good data migration strategyHere are 8 things you need for an effective data migration.

1. A pre-migration assessment

You wouldn’t go bungie jumping without checking the rope was properly tied. The same applies for data migrations; you need a game plan. 

You can plan your project in two parts: project structure and technical aspects. The project structure plan should include things like clearly defined migration objectives, deadlines and budget. The technical review - which you should develop with the help of an IT partner - should outline the migration method, timeline and tools.

2. Data quality check

Before carrying out a migration you need to assess the quality of your data. Incorrect, inconsistent or duplicate data can cause a failure in your new system - and that's not something you want to discover after an attempted migration.

Profile and evaulate your data and map it onto the new system to make sure that the formats and requirements fit. By doing so, you can reduce the risk of project overruns, delays and outright failure.

3. Talk to other departments

Although the IT department may oversee any migration project, this shouldn’t exclude the rest of the business. Talk to your colleagues and actively seek out their insight, as they likely have an inherent understanding of the data your business has. They are best placed to advise on what data to keep and what data to throw away.

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4. Validate and test throughout the migration process

Always check and double-check. You don’t want to get to the end of the migration process only to find an error which threatens the whole thing. Testing can help you with data conversion, comparison and duplication. If you can solve problems along the way, the end result will be better.

5. Anticipated downtime

When you're putting together your project structure plan, build in some downtime as it’s tricky to migrate data and ensure consistency during regular working hours. You can remove some of the pressure by doing migrations during non-business hours.

6. Watch for security leaks

Data migration can compromise your data permissions and security settings, making your data vulnerable to theft, corruption or misuse. To avoid this, you should carry out block level migrations, rather than file-level. As this migration is on a different level, your security remains untouched.

7. A rollback plan

Doing a migration can disrupt other systems and processes if not done properly. Establish a rollback plan to restore your servers to a problem-free version. This is your ‘get-out-of-jail-free card’ if your upgrade goes badly.

8. Allow enough time to learn the new environment

There are many things in data migration that can uptime, reliability or security of your servers. Give yourself enough time to learn everything you need to know. This doesn’t just include the technical challenges either, you need to know the business objectives for the migration.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

Data migration is a complex, time-consuming project. Don’t be afraid to let go and ask for help with implementation. Choosing the right technology partner can make the process easier. So don’t hesitate, get in touch today.

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