Data Migration Best Practices in 5 Steps

Data Migration Best Practices

Data migration projects can be challenging, following these practices will minimize risk and ensure your project runs smoothly from start to finish.

Benefit from cloud migration tools that provide consulting services. Managing your migration project with a team of experts to ensure your migration process from start to finish will save you time.

—Christophe Margaine

FRANCE, September 12, 2022 / — Data migration projects often present complex challenges. Several factors can derail migration from legacy systems to inconsistent data formats and portability issues to internal or third-party vendors. However, proper planning can minimize risk and ensure a successful migration. Let’s take a look at the steps to take before and during your migration project.

But before we get started with best practices, it’s important to define data migration.

A data migration strategy typically focuses on changing the way data exists within the enterprise. The main purpose is to change the location or format of data. The project may require moving from on-premises to cloud or within the cloud (tenant to tenant) and converting data. Data migration projects are often stretched across the entire technology infrastructure, which can impact the entire organization and the employee experience. The reason projects can be difficult is that they involve many moving, often interconnected parts.

They are usually led by a dedicated project manager and involve different teams. The migration team itself may include business analysts, project managers, data architects, database developers, and data migration specialists.
Although data migration projects are essential, they are generally not considered the most important project within a company. However, since data migration typically involves a large amount of data, it can often be complicated to accomplish without careful planning.

Here are the best practices to consider before embarking on a data migration project:

1. Create a plan and map out the whole process
Planning what data needs to be moved, where it needs to go and how it will get there is essential. Who should have access to the information is something else your plan should address. Your strategy should detail each step of the migration and the people involved. You need to think about potential system downtime, in addition to any technical or compatibility issues.
You need to consider network bandwidth and other restrictions, core cloud migration tool features, and understand the difference between cutover migration and staged migration. If you are planning a data transfer, security and privacy should be top priorities, so be sure to address these areas in your data migration methodology.

2. Inspect and classify your data
Carefully inspect the data that will be sent. Specifically, you need to define whether you are migrating mailboxes, files (e.g. Google Drive, OneDrive documents), Teams migration, SharePoint sites, etc.
List the number of users, shared mailboxes and resources (rooms and equipment), teams, site collections, subsites, total size in GB of each, etc.
Look for old, irrelevant or unnecessary information. In addition to streamlining the relocation process, separating data for deletion will provide your team with a clean set of data to work with. However, it is essential to respect best practices for archiving dataand retention since some types of data require specialized retention policies for compliance reasons.

3. Create a clear data migration policy
Having a plan in place is insufficient. The entire organization needs a set of guidelines and controls for data migration.
Your data migration policy should ensure that information is transmitted to the right place and is secure while in transit. Additionally, the policy should address data ownership and security. These elements are important, especially in the event of a data breach.
Finally, your policy should reference your process, service level agreements (SLAs), and timelines.
Every cloud resource comes with a contractual agreement, known as a service level agreement (SLA), outlining what the provider provides and the customer’s responsibilities.

4. Have backup copies of your data
It’s worth having a copy of the data you’re going to move. If you have a copy of the data stored elsewhere, you will be sure that your primary files will not be lost in transit. The most recent copy of the backup should be used if the effectiveness of the migration is disputed.
Planned and tightly managed data backup is essential. If something goes wrong, your users will experience less downtime if you have a backup in place.

5. Always test your data after migration
After the migration is complete, verify that everything is where it should be and perform data migration testing.
Check the migration process, data quality and verify that the data is correct and correctly formatted.
During migration testing, you should assess if any settings changes are needed for the migration tools, or if any data has changed, requiring a new migration, knowing the delta pass mechanism.
Testing is also essential for security reasons. In addition to verifying that the data is migrated, verify that everything has been encrypted.

Remember to keep a complete record of the procedure, your compliance staff will appreciate your work by documenting everything after the work is completed.
Depending on your industry, regulators may want evidence that you took reasonable precautions to protect private information such as credit card numbers or medical records. Auditing the process will not only verify that everything was done successfully, but it will also help you discover areas for improvement in future migration.

You’re not alone. Several cloud migration tools provide consulting services. Managing your migration project with a team of experts to ensure your migration process from start to finish will save you time. You can receive help defining your project scope and migration strategy, tracking your migration, and generating relevant migration reports to ensure the success of your project.
Data migration projects can consume a lot of time and resources. But with proper planning, you can minimize risk and ensure project success.

Christophe Margaine
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Sean N. Ayres