Overcome the challenges of data migration

He’s a rare person who really enjoys taking on a big and difficult challenge. This is especially true for challenges filled with overwhelming risk and complexity, the kind of challenge that can stall your business. We face these challenges because we have to. Failure to tackle these challenges head-on can also slow progress. There is no more feared and risky IT project than a data migration project.

I have worked in storage and data systems for most of my career, but still was surprised when I came across statistics that showed just how badly data migrations tend to go. . Recent research shows that only 36% of data migration projects are on budget, and only 46% were delivered on time. It’s a dismal success rate.

To help understand common mistakes made in a data migration project, I spent time with the Professional Services team at Pure Storage. I detail much of what I learned in a recent white paper published by Moor Insights & Strategy. I also had the opportunity to speak to some of the data migration experts on the Pure Storage Professional Services team on a recent edition of our DataCentric Podcast.

Tom Schroeder, VP of Global Professional Services at Pure Storage, and Don McCullough, his team’s senior product marketing manager, joined us along with my colleague Matt Kimball on the podcast. It was a great discussion. Tom and Don opened our eyes to the importance of smartly leveraging a professional services organization.

Hidden dangers of data migration

IT projects can go over budget or over schedule for a number of reasons. Most of these problems can be alleviated with focused planning and disciplined execution. While these are the types of tasks that IT teams typically excel at, data migration is a special case. Data migration is not something that an IT organization takes care of very often. It’s also precisely the kind of task that seems straightforward at first, to get derailed by an explosion of hidden dangers.

Storage isn’t just about putting bits on a drive (or in the cloud) and keeping it safe. Storage is just one layer among many in the critical chain of information we call “data”. Business critical data often bounces around the organization for a very long time. It is not uncommon to lose track of one’s origins and dependencies.

Tom Schroeder told us this way: “One of the biggest problems we often see [with data migrations] is that the organization responsible for the data often does not understand who the business owners of that data are, or even what applications are connected to it. There, it is a gigantic problem. “

Beyond understanding business data needs, there is often a lack of knowledge that can impact a migration project. A successful data migration project involves a deep understanding of the technology and systems for both the source and destination of the data being moved. Thorough knowledge of these systems comes from daily exposure and continuous experience. Our white paper found that nearly 44% of those polled in a recent data migration research study reported a lack of understanding of critical technologies as an inhibitor.

This list of things to consider is long. Any data migration project will raise questions about data ownership and technological capabilities, but it will also include a long list of logistics issues. IT and corporate business units should work together to sort out data ownership, define any necessary data cleansing, and negotiate downtime and availability during migration. All of this goes beyond basic IT needs to perform the migration, validate the new environment, and return the affected applications to operational readiness.

It’s a complex process, but it’s also a bunch of problems with a simple solution. When you take on a complex project that could be beyond the capabilities of an IT team, call in the experts. Hire a professional services team.

Call on the experts

Engineers are proud creatures. Nowhere is this more true than in the depths of information technology. In my own case, I can’t think of a single computer or software project that I wouldn’t immediately assume I could accomplish in a long weekend. With that in mind, I asked Tom if it wasn’t cheating to hire professional services.

On the contrary, Tom told me that it was actually very smart to call someone like Pure Storage for help. He explained that he often called on other professional services teams in his own company at Pure Storage, to fill skills gaps and bandwidth needs.

A professional services team brings both in-depth knowledge and great rigor to any project.

Don and Tom explained that Pure Storage’s approach to professional services revolves around a framework they call “assess, activate, innovate”. It is a framework designed to reflect the journey of any transformation or modernization project.

One of the essential tools that Pure Storage’s professional services teams bring to the table is a strategy workshop. This is where the Professional Services team engages with a client’s IT teams and business owners to gain an in-depth understanding of the data that could be impacted by the project, whether it’s data migration or any other IT modernization or digital transformation effort.

“That’s what I really like,” Tom told us. These strategy workshops are essential to the success of any engagement. This is a moderate approach to helping customers understand their business challenges. This is true in efforts to migrate data, reduce IT costs, develop a hybrid cloud strategy, or even strengthen the role of automation within the infrastructure. The list is endless.

The big takeaway

Almost all data migration projects are more complicated than they first appear. A failure can result in downtime for critical applications, which can have real impacts on the business. No wonder, then, that many such projects are continually being abandoned, making it the problem for a future IT team.

Hiring a professional services team is a perfect way to overcome these obstacles and improve your chances of success. These teams run similar projects almost every day. They know what they are doing.

Pure Storage is just one example of a professional services organization that can help. The reality is that all of the major infrastructure providers offer similar capabilities, as do many of their channel partners. Reduce the risks of your project by calling on the experts. You will be glad you did.

Disclosure: Moor Insights & Strategy, like all research and analysis companies, provides or has provided paid research, analysis, advice, or advice to many high-tech companies in the industry, including Pure Storage. The author does not hold any investment position in any of the companies cited in this article.

Sean N. Ayres