Planning a Successful Data Migration

illustration depicting data services in an abstract way
illustration depicting data services in an abstract way

When planning a data migration, it is important to analyse your data, understand the solutions available and bring in specialist support if you need it.

Increasingly, organisations are migrating some or all of their systems and applications to the cloud in order to increase their speed to market, improve scalability, enhance agility and reduce the cost of technical resources. Migrating your legacy systems to the cloud not only reduces hardware provisioning costs and delay when done correctly, it will also increase the productivity and efficiency of your team and improve the overall performance of your IT operations.

However, it’s not just the legacy systems and applications that have to be migrated over to the cloud – it’s all the data too. And that can be a challenge in itself.

While the benefits may be plentiful, data migration also comes with risks and complexities, especially when it involves legacy data and systems. The journey can be challenging, and, with many cloud vendors and solutions in the marketplace, it can be difficult to ascertain the best route for your organisation.

Organisations are right to approach data migration with caution as there are many issues and pitfalls you can come up against that can end in costing your organisation time, resource and money. Less successful migrations can result in inaccurate data that contains redundancies and unknowns. This can happen even when source data is fully usable and adequate. If there are any existing issues in the source data, these can be amplified when it’s brought into a new, more sophisticated system.

For organisations to be able to understand the risk, complexity, and the potential solutions to effectively migrate to the cloud, an in-depth analysis of their data as part of an initial discovery and planning phase is vital.

5 Key Components of Data Migration Planning

Before you enter into design or build phase, you must undergo a thorough discovery and planning phase to mitigate risk and ensure as smooth a transition as possible.

To help when planning a data migration, it is important that you:

1. Have clear objectives and requirements

Why are you migrating this data and what are you looking to achieve by migrating it? How will the data be used once in the cloud? What is the business value of the data and how does it support business operations? The answers to these questions will impact the effort (as well as the size of budget) required to migrate.

2. Conduct a thorough analysis of your data

You must take the time to fully understand how each system works and how the data within each system is structured as well as analysing the quality and relevance of the data. Is the data stable? What systems and business processes actually interact with this data and how do these interactions actually impact the data? The outcomes of this analysis can greatly impact migration and solution planning.

3. Research and understand the market

Once you fully understand your existing systems and data, you must then research the market and identify potential target systems / locations for your data. Where you migrate your data may greatly impact the structure of your data, the migration design and approach. Not only does your chosen target system impact the work involved in the migration, it also impacts the costs so it is definitely worth taking the time to understand what solutions are out there.

4. Engage a partner to help if you don’t have the cloud and data migration expertise in house

When planning a data migration, it is important to understand the size and scope of the project so you can determine if you have the skills, resource and availability to deliver in your desired timescales. When migrating full systems and applications, direct migration may be an option rather than a re-build and the sooner you are able to ascertain the options the better. If you don’t have the knowledge and skills required to deliver or the resources you have are busy on other things, engage a partner to help. Engaging a partner in the initial phases gives you an early, up front view of the complexity of the application and the associated data which will save you money (and potentially a lot of pain) further down the road.

5. Take a step back

When migrating data and systems, it can be tempting to try and keep processes and data formats the same. They worked before so why not just keep doing things in the same way? While it may make sense to do this, you shouldn’t miss out on opportunity to take a step back and look at your data, how you use it, and what is important to you. Understanding what the data does for your business can massively alter the design and the potential benefits a move to the cloud offers.

There is no denying that system and data migration, when done successfully, can reduce costs, streamline processes and improve productivity. If you are about to embark on a data migration project and you would like some advice and support, get in touch and book a consultation with one of our migration specialists.

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