Data Migration – Benefits, Use Cases and Best Practices

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Data Migration - Benefits

The success of any modern organization depends on how well it utilizes business data to adapt to market dynamics. With these enterprises scrambling to collect more data, adopting environments that allow optimal storage and value extraction is becoming increasingly imperative. That is where data migration comes in.

What is Data Migration?

Data migration refers to the process of transferring data from one system, format or location to another. This process usually happens when a company introduces a new system or location for storing business data. That’s why data migrations have become so common with the rise in popularity of cloud-based storage systems.

When does a company need Data Migration?

Here are some of the reasons businesses undertake data migrations:

  • Overhauling old systems and replacing them with more modern ones (upgrading their systems)
  • Shifting from on-premises to cloud-based storage systems
  • Merging data from different sources, such as corporate mergers and acquisitions
  • Getting rid of data that is no longer useful for the business
  • Updating existing hardware, software and file formats
  • Minimizing operational costs by reducing the number of data storage systems

Types of Data Migration

Data migration is divided into 6 primary categories. However, it is essential to note that a single data migration process can consist of several types.

  • Storage migration – Involves data migration from one storage location to another. This process is common when a company wants to upgrade its data storage equipment.
  • Application migration – Requires the relocation of data from one computing system to another. Companies need this step to change their application software or switch to an alternative vendor.
  • Business process migration – Involves moving business processes, data, metrics and applications to another environment. Businesses instigate this type of migration when they undergo mergers, make new acquisitions or want to reorganize their operations, for example, two HR consultancy firms come together.
  • Data center migration – This type of migration involves relocating data center infrastructure to different equipment at the same or to a different physical location.
  • Database migration – Involves relocating data storage media from one database management system (DBMS) to another. This step is necessary when a business needs to upgrade to the latest DBMS version and enhance access to business data.
  • Cloud migration – This type of migration involves moving data from an on-premises storage location to a cloud-based option. It also refers to relocating data from one cloud environment to another.

Things to consider before Data Migration

Although beneficial, data migration can be complex with several technical steps, such as mapping, extraction and verification. That’s why it is essential to recruit a specialist that will help you determine the expertise you will require to ensure the seamless completion of the process. Here are additional tips for a successful data migration process:

Perform a pre-migration assessment

A pre-migration assessment is necessary as it helps you create an effective migration plan, identify & fix potential issues before they occur and set business goals for the migration process.

Consult with all the departments

The IT department is more hands-on when it comes to the data migration process. However, it is essential to involve other departments as they have a deeper understanding of the type of data your business possesses.

Assess the quality of data

Assessing data quality before the data migration process is essential. That helps you eliminate inconsistent, duplicate and incorrect data to ensure you aren’t relocating to another storage system with the same issues. 

Test and validate throughout the migration process

Data migration involves complex steps; a single mishap could threaten the entire process. Therefore, it is essential to implement testing and validation at every step to ensure you fix issues before they become too complicated.

Pay attention to Data Security

The data migration process involves granting access permission to different people, exposing business data to many security threats. For that reason, it is essential to implement security measures, such as block-level migration, to minimize the risk of theft, corruption or misuse of sensitive data.

Approaches to Data Migration

Here are two primary data migration approaches:

Big Bang Migration

As the name suggests, the big bang approach involves migrating all the data in a single massive operation within a set timeframe. This approach saves the business time and money since it requires a relatively short time to complete. However, it puts a lot of pressure on the data migration team since it results in downtimes and the business will be forced to operate without data resources for a while.

Trickle Migration

Trickle migration is the opposite of big bang migration and involves completing the data migration process in phases. This approach allows the company to run new and old systems in parallel, eliminating downtimes. However, it will take a relatively long time to complete the process since the processes have to be done in phases.

Data Migration stages

  • Project scoping – If it’s your first time conducting data migration, it is essential to conduct a scoping exercise to make the parameters clear. At this stage, create a plan and identify critical areas of the project’s structure. These include resources, expertise, deadlines and budgets.
  • Data Assessment – Once you have set all the parameters, it is essential to assess the data to understand the locations and formats. This phase also allows you to identify the constraints, dependencies and quality of the data, which facilitates the evaluation of potential risks that could arise during the data migration process.
  • Data backup – The data migration process involves a wide range of risks, including data corruption and loss. Therefore, it is essential to back up data before the process to ensure you can easily revert to the original state if any risks materialize.

In a nutshell

If you are planning to upgrade your systems, consolidate data or migrate to cloud storage systems, you might want to start thinking about data migration. It is essential to get this project right to ensure you maintain data integrity and reap the full benefits of the process.

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Roy M is a technical content writer for the last 8 years with vast knowledge in digital marketing, wireframe and graphics designing.

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