Understanding Data Migration: Strategies & Best Practices
Data migration is a complex and potentially anxiety-inducing process for small to medium sized businesess, as it incorporates many activities, from planning and analysis to data transfer, validation, and testing. In order to ensure a completely secure and successful data migration it is essential to have a team of IT professionals with the right skills and expertise by your side.
The first stage of data migration is to establish which sets of data need to be transferred. This includes identifying the type, location, format, and volume of the data in question. It is vital to ensure that all data is accurate, accessible, complete, and up-to-date before the migration process begins as this will help to determine which tools, individuals, and procedures will be required. You can greatly increase the chances of a successful data migration by employing IT professionals who have extensive experience, technical knowledge, problem-solving abilities and high functioning communication skills. These IT professionals must be able to solve complex problems, as and when they arise.
Here is a list of key IT specialists who can help companies of all sized to successfully migrate their data:
Project managers can help oversee the entire data migration process, from planning through to deployment. They can help manage resources, timelines, and budgets, and ultimately ensure that the project is completed on time, within budget, and to the desired standard of quality.
Data analysts are experts at planning and analysis. They can assess and qualify data before drawing up an inventory. Data analysts are also skilled at establishing the consequences of altering interacting data sets.
DevOps consultants are masters at introducing automation into the process of migration. Automation and AI can significantly speed up workflows and are powerful tools for checking and identifying errors. DevOps consultants can additionally help with deployment.
Network Engineers can help to optimize network settings and configurations, and ensure that data remains encrypted.
Database administrators are incredibly good at optimisation and with preparing the database in advance to ensure maximum stability.
After the identification of any risks associated with data migration, an IT consultant can help to develop a risk management plan. This plan will be tailored to your business and all the various ways in which you operate.
Any reluctance about the process is understandable as data migration does genuinely pose real risks. There’s a risk of data loss / corruption, the risk of a security breach, and whilst migration is taking place systems will be down for a period of time which can be incredibly disruptive. DevOps consultants are very good at making sure everything is running efficiently, and installing tools which can error-check as data is transferred.
Assessment of risk is followed by the creation of a detailed risk management plan. This plan should include steps to ensure that data is carefully tested before and after migration to minimise the risk of issues arising.
With a plan in place, the next phase is to establish the most effective method of migration. There are a number of different methods for the actual migration itself, and these include; manual migration, scripted migration, and automated migration. The choice of method will depend on factors including complexity of the data, the volume of data to be migrated, and the timeframe for completing the whole operation.
The key differences between the three approaches are:
Manual migration is the simplest method of data migration and one that involves manually transferring data from one source to the end-target. This process can be laborious and can also be prone to errors. Manual migration is much better suited to small sets of data, and simple, non-integrated systems. In short, if you have a large set of data to migrate, or have very complex data sets, manual migration is not the solution for you!
Scripted migration involves the creation of code which introduces automation to the whole process. This code can be used to extract data from the source system, transform the data, and load it into the target system. Scripted migration is much less labour-intensive than manual migration and it’s also much better at reducing errors. As you can imagine, scripted migration does require skill and experience, therefore it is suited to companies who have data migration experts on staff, or can hire IT professionals such as DevOps consultants, to help devise a tailored strategy which incorporates new levels of automation.
Automated migration is the third and most intricate method of data migration. Automated migration incorporates specialised tools and software to automate the entire process of data migration. As a result, automated migration is even more efficient than scripted migration, and it’s also even better at reducing errors. It can also be employed to securely transfer data between multiple sources simultaneously. Automated migration is not for the faint hearted and you’ll therefore likely need the help of DevOps consultants, network engineers and database administrators to get the best results.
With the method of migration chosen, it’s now time to choose the right tool for the job. Several migration tools exist, ranging from free open-source resources to expensive bespoke solutions. When choosing the most appropriate tool to use you’ll need to take into account the migration method chosen, the type of data being migrated, and the level of security that’s needed.
The penultimate step is to form a data validation and testing strategy. Data validation and testing are critical to ensuring that the migrated data is accurate and complete. The testing process should include testing of the data migration process itself and the data being migrated. Testing should cover data integrity, security, and performance.
The very last stage is continuous monitoring. Continuous monitoring will help to identify any errors or issues which may arise at any point throughout the migration process. A DevOps consultant can recommend tools and best practices for continuous monitoring.
To conclude, a successful and secure data migration strategy requires intricate planning, extensive risk management, and the help of leading IT consultants who can lend their invaluable skills, knowledge and experiences.