How to choose the right strategy for a data migration
Article by BitTitan director for APAC Brad Rosairo.
Anyone who has moved to a home knows that without preparation it can be a chaotic experience. There are different considerations during a move regarding what to keep, how to pack various items, how to prioritize what to move, and how to protect valuables.
A good moving company understands that the move itself is not the most important part of the operation. The business is judged by the efficiency with which each possession arrives at its destination.
Moving can be a useful metaphor for understanding data migration because not all data migrations are the same. However, every migration requires careful strategy, thoughtful planning, a detailed migration checklist, and communication throughout. This article explores the reasons why companies undertake a migration, how companies prepare for the move, and examines three common migration strategies.
Reasons to migrate data
Organizations have a variety of reasons for migrating data, which may require different migration strategies. Common reasons for a migration include:
Go to the cloud – Cloud adoption has increased over the past decade and cloud migrations have accelerated over the past year, largely due to the need to support secure remote working during the pandemic .
Mergers and Acquisitions – M&A activity has accelerated, with high-stakes migrations typically ending a fairly intense IT project as merging companies consolidate their data. These migrations must be planned carefully to ensure a positive experience when companies combine.
Consolidation or decoupling systems – As organizations evolve, they may find it necessary to combine or separate data for IT management purposes. This can be based on region or branch, for example.
Switch to a new platform – Many companies adopting Microsoft Teams have driven migrations to take advantage of Teams’ robust collaboration offerings.
To save money – As IT organizations look for ways to contribute to bottom lines, many are finding opportunities to cut costs by moving to new platforms.
Improve security – This year’s news about bad actors exploiting vulnerabilities in on-premises Exchange has renewed the urgency to migrate from on-premises environments to more secure cloud environments such as Exchange Online.
In each scenario, organizations should consider data management strategies to define the ideal migration options that they should follow.
Preparing data for the move
The concept of performing a data migration might seem basic: Gather everything from point A and move it to point B. But it’s like calling a moving company, opening the door to your house and telling them to move everything. . The moving company will move everything, including the contents of the wastepaper baskets.
The cases where an organization wants to move everything are a lift-and-shift migration, where data is moved with little or no change. This type of migration may be the only viable strategy when time is limited or when the workload is relatively low. But it can create complications on the backend.
And, just as a moving company will charge for the weight and volume of all the items packed in their truck, a lift-and-shift migration can result in unnecessary costs when it comes to unnecessary data.
Back to the household that needs to be moved. With a little time and planning, the family can determine what they need and eliminate what they don’t need. They can schedule a garage sale, donate, and go to the landfill.
When everything arrives in their new home, unpacking is easier and they don’t have to find storage space for things they don’t need.
In terms of data migration, this is a clean and lagged migration strategy. It has long been considered the best practice because it enables cleaner, more efficient migration and potentially lower data storage costs. It also leads to a more organized environment which allows users to be more productive as they have better access to their data.
Automated solutions can help improve migration planning. IT teams are starting to use Voleer assessments in the planning phases of a migration, which helps them identify content that can be archived or purged. This content is sometimes referred to as ROT, short for redundant, obsolete, or trivial content.
Once ROT content is identified, IT can work with application or database owners to dispose of it. In some cases, the ROT may be a liability if the company stores compliance documents longer than the law requires.
Migration strategies to consider
To plan for a migration and decide on the workloads to move, different strategies should be considered. These common strategies involve different migration workflows:
This involves moving everything at once, usually over a weekend. Keep in mind that a one-pass migration doesn’t mean everything moves. In fact, a well-organized cleanup before migration will streamline the project.
The advantages of a one-pass strategy are its cost efficiency and simplicity. Potential drawbacks include the inability to test workloads before failover and the possibility that not all data will be available when work resumes. This strategy is not recommended for large or complex migrations.
This is a multi-pass migration strategy in which most of the data is moved before failover. Often, older items and archives are moved before a changeover weekend when newer data is subsequently transferred. This allows users to be productive immediately when they return to work.
Preliminary migrations are recommended for larger, more complex projects, and they require planning to be successful.
With the rapid change strategy, recent data is moved first and archives follow later. It’s a way to speed up a migration and get users to their new system quickly with their most important data. When performing a quick change, it is important to remind users that not all of their data will be available at the time of the switchover.
There is a lot to think about when the need to perform a migration arises. In fact, migration itself often comes at the end of the strategy, pre-work, and preparation stages. However, two ingredients are essential to any successful migration: planning and communications.
Careful planning makes a difference in several ways. This increases efficiency and reduces the risk of failure. Even a partial failure will affect end users who depend on access to systems and data for their productivity.
Effective planning can also help reduce costs and optimize data storage. It will also save you time on cleaning the backend.
Equally important is communication throughout a migration project. Maintaining open connections within the project team regarding the movement of data and applications will allow owners to ensure that nothing is missed.
Also make sure that users understand their roles and know what to expect before, during, and after migration. When everything is going well behind the scenes, it can seem like nothing big is happening – and that’s the way it should be.
There is technology to streamline migration projects. Look for solutions that deliver faster, more streamlined migration that can make an entire project a success. Also, choose a vendor with an extensive knowledge base that includes step-by-step guides, videos, and webinars.