What is data migration? (+7 steps to pass)

What is data migration and why would a company consider such an undertaking?

As the world becomes increasingly reliant on digital infrastructure, where and how businesses store their data becomes even more important. But sometimes you have to make a change after the fact. Making this change safely and confidently requires planning and process.

It requires data migration.

Let’s take a look at why data migration is important for some businesses, as well as the typical steps needed to complete it.

Collecting and integrating data becomes essential for most business practices at one point or another. But it also means any attempt to move data to another location, be it a cloud provider, data lake, or data storageor another repository – must be completely transparent.

Data migration can mean different things in a different set of circumstances or for a different business. But it refers to the general framework of finding, auditing, preparing, converting (if necessary), and finally loading that data into its new location.

It’s not as simple a process as you might think. But the need for data migration can arise due to a number of circumstances.

These include:

  • The company made an acquisition, or was itself acquired, and the data of the newly acquired entity must be ordered and consolidated in existing databases.
  • The company chose to upgrade or overhaul its digital infrastructure or switch to another provider. In some cases, the data must be transformed (converted) to ensure compatibility with a different (or newer) application or operating system.
  • Sometimes a company may choose to establish a new data warehouse due to geographic or market considerations, to move processing closer to the point where the data was collected, or because they want to conform (or avoid) data management regulations such as the EU General Data Protection Regulation.
  • Companies can also choose to partition their digital infrastructure if the business forms separate divisions or otherwise changes its structure, and separate file paths are required for each division.

Regardless of their reasons for embarking on this process, businesses need to know that they can successfully resume operations afterwards without:

  • Experience more downtime or inconvenience than necessary
  • Losing critical data
  • Sustain data duplication and redundancy

If you’re importing older data into a new system, this is a great opportunity to start fresh with confidence. Having a plan in place for data migration is a chance to clean up and reorganize your data without exporting existing issues into a new system.

Data migration only happens as smoothly as your prep work, and that means having a strategy is essential. The following steps should provide a general overview for companies and organizations considering a large-scale data migration project.

1. Data audit and mapping

Before any data is migrated to the new system, companies are advised to perform a comprehensive data audit. Don’t confuse this with an optional step – it lays the foundation for everything that follows.

A data audit will help shed light on questions such as these:

  • Are there any potential data liability issues with the new system, location or service provider, including holding personally identifiable data about customers, partners or customers?
  • Are these data more necessary? During a data audit, you can consider the usefulness of all your digital clutter and discard anything that hasn’t been useful for a while.

Once the audit is complete and your decision makers are satisfied with the results, you move on to the next step.

2. Clean

With the audit behind you, the cleanup can begin. In some cases, cleaning may mean seeking outside help to make your data compliant with existing, new, or potential future data protection regulations.

In other cases, cleaning can be taken a little more literally. According to a report, only around 3% of companies hold data that meets even the most basic quality standards.

The scale of your cleaning task may require the help of third-party data preparation tools. Reconciling old records with newer ones, such as ensuring that obsolete phone numbers and addresses are removed and then transposing the result into the new database, is a task best left to the light touch of d ‘automating through workflow recipes.

3. Choose your timeline, method and architecture

There are two main ways to get started on a data migration project. We’ll discuss that in a moment. This stage of the process is also where your organization should define the expected timeline for project completion and map the architecture of the new system.

One thing you might overlook without a pro (or pro-level data migration tool) on your side is the challenge of protecting your data while it’s migrating. When establishing your schedule and processes, it’s important to keep data integrity top of mind.

“Integrity” here refers to both cybersecurity concerns and having workflows and redundancies in place to ensure that data is securely duplicated before it moves, and that redundancies are not removed, for cybersecurity reasons, only after receiving confirmation of a successful transfer. .

4. Transform

Chances are, your business is “running” on data gathered from a variety of sources, including e-commerce websites, point-of-sale modules, social media reports and campaigns, direct mail and emails. emails, customer relationship management dashboards and business planning software.

This may mean that your structured and unstructured data is in a format that is not immediately compatible with your new system architecture. A successful migration may require your data to undergo formatting changes or other transformations before it can be used.

5. Test your migration process

Do you remember the saying “measure twice, cut once”? During a data migration project, the maxim is “test twice, migrate once”.

This is an important step in the project. This is your chance to make sure all the required code is doing the job it’s supposed to. Use a variety of data types as “dummy” to verify the completeness and fidelity of the data migration process. Look for edge cases and outliers that could cause slowdowns, data corruption, or other issues once the system goes live.

6. Migrate

As we said, there are two schools of thought on data migration methods. Each has different ramifications for the business in question. They are: one-shot data migrations and streaming data migrations.

One-shot data migrations

This is where the entire data migration project is completed in a known and planned interval. Any active systems in use at that time will require temporary downtime as data is extracted, transformed, and loaded into the new system.

The advantage of going this route is that, if you have prepared well, the whole project happens within a known timeframe. It’s a unique thing. But this is also the main disadvantage: the “crunch” for the parties involved can be difficult to overcome, especially if the company also has to continue to operate with reduced capacity.

Slow data migrations

In some cases where businesses need to avoid downtime, a piecemeal approach may be a better solution. This is where the old data system and the new continue to work in parallel. Your project staff can migrate your data piece by piece, as it is processed, without rendering any of your company’s digital assets unusable or your services inaccessible.

These can be more complex migration projects, but in the right hands they can actually reduce rather than exacerbate the common risks that any data migration is susceptible to.

7. Load data

If you’ve followed the steps above, you’re ready to flip the switch and implement your data migration protocols.

8. Perform another data audit

So we started, so the process ends. Data auditing at the start of your migration project confirmed that you did not bring any issues with your previous data infrastructure. Limiting the experiment with a second data audit confirms that you haven’t created any new ones in the process.

You are ready for your own data migration

Data is the present and the future of business. And like it or not, that means we’ll probably always need to migrate data between storage or processing locations.

Now that you know what to expect, you’re better prepared than ever for the next time you need to migrate your most important data to a new home.

Want to keep learning? Read our guide on how to make your data more secure before checking out our wide range of user reviews. data security software available today.

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Sean N. Ayres