Creating a Data Migration Strategy

by Josh Biggs in Tech on 20th January 2021

Data migration, in simplest terms, refers to the process of moving data to another location. The concept, while simple, isn’t as easy to put into practice. 

Data migration is one of the most important things for a business that’s data-driven, and to be competitive in today’s environment, your business has to be data-driven. 

As far as data engineering, data migration can prove to be one of the biggest challenges. There are tools to help you get started, such as a file system analyzer, but before you even select those specific platforms, the following are general things to know to build a data migration strategy. 

The Risks of Data Migration

There are a few core reasons a business might be doing data migration. 

One example is if they are replacing legacy systems with new applications. Data migration might also occur if a business is going to introduce a new system altogether. 

Frequently data migrations also take place when firms are moving from an infrastructure that’s on-premises to a cloud-based storage option. 

Why It’s Important to Have a Strategy

No matter the reason a data migration is taking place, a strategy is a necessity. 

If your migration isn’t based on a cohesive strategy, there’s the potential that data can be inaccurate and contain redundancies. If there are issues in the source data, those problems can actually be amplified when it’s put into a more advanced system. 

If your data migration strategy isn’t successful, it can lead to more problems than the move would ultimately solve. 

Migration plans, in addition to the potential to entirely fall apart, can go beyond determining budgets and deadlines. 

Factors in a Successful Data Migration Strategy

Some of the core elements that a good data migration strategy will have include:

  • An understanding of the data. Your source data needs to be thoroughly audited before you go any further in the process. If you don’t audit your data, it’s highly likely you’re going to run into unexpected problems. 
  • Once you do an audit and you identify potential problems, you can start to fix them. You might need third-party tools and resources to do this, depending on the scale and scope of issues identified. 
  • The third phase of a successful data migration strategy is putting in place the controls needed to ensure data quality. Data degradation occurs eventually, and then that data is unreliable, which is why this should be a step in your strategy. 
  • You want to have a plan in place to track and report on the quality of your data. 

Other Considerations in Data Migration

Before you migrate data, you need to have a full understanding of just what it is that you are  migrating. How much data are you migrating?

 What does that data contain?

If you find during an audit there’s a lot of missing information or the data is low quality, is it worth it to do a migration?

There are different types of data migration strategy approaches you might take. For example, you could do a full transfer within a limited and set window of time. 

You will have downtime if you go with this approach, but it’s done quickly. This is the most intensive way to approach data migration. 

Another option is to complete data migration in a series of phases. When you’re making a phased approach, you will run your old system at the same time as your new system, therefore eliminating potential downtime and interruptions. You might be continuously migrating data in real-time. 

Going with a phased approach does tend to reduce the overall risks of migration. 

If you’re migrating data to the cloud, your two options are online migration or offline migration. 

With online migration, data moves across a WAN connection or the Internet. With offline migration, data is transferred by a storage appliance that is physically shipped to the cloud storage location. 

Along with all that’s listed above, when you’re planning a data migration, think about the type of workload, the amount of data, and the speed to completion. 

Know what your data is used for and how it will be used in the future. Understand not just your source environments but also your target environments. 

Carefully weigh and assess the needs of your business and the impact data migration might have throughout the process. 

Finally, go over the three core risks, which are security. Data needs to be securely encrypted before you migrate. Long transfer times and network bottlenecks are another risk, as are unexpected costs. 

Categories: Tech