5 questions to ask when forming a data migration strategy

18 August 2022

5 questions to ask when forming a data migration strategy

How can teams ensure their data migration project runs smoothly, free from disruption?

Businesses may discover the need for data migration for a wide range of reasons, such as shifting to the cloud, implementing new systems or increasing the capabilities of their current data storage.

However, without a data migration plan and strategy in place, migration processes can fall short of expectation – potentially leading to time-consuming re-work and data loss.

There are a wide range of advantages to creating a data migration strategy. With an easy and successful data migration, teams can avoid scope-creep and stay within budgets – keeping the timeline of project on track and maintaining stakeholder confidence.

A migration strategy can also ensure that contingency plans are in place for the risks that could affect the quality or security of data both during and post migration. What’s more, a successful data migration strategy will consider future works or projects, such as further optimisations or integrations.

To help create a data migration strategy – ensuring that migration runs smoothly and efficiently– we’ve outlined the 5 key questions that your team need to be asking before migration begins.

Question #1: What approach am I going to take?

There are three main approaches to data migration: big bang migration, trickle migration, and zero downtime migration.

Each one holds a direct influence on timescale, the possibility of disruption, the amount of downtime, and risk.

Big bang migration

When teams opt for a big bang approach, the complete migration is completed within a narrow timeframe. To do so, all data goes through an ETL process, and migrates to the new database while live systems are down.

The main advantage of this approach is time. With a short window of downtime, all data is migrated. However, with live systems inactive, the pressure on teams to quickly migrate all data can be strenuous – risking compromised migration and data quality.

Trickle migration

As opposed to the big bang approach, a trickle migration is completed in phases. During migration, the old system and the new target system run in tandem. As a result, trickle migration boasts very limited downtime or interruptions, if any. With processes consistently running, data can be continuously migrated.

While the advantages of trickle migrations are significant, this approach can be complex and time-consuming. On the other hand, greater complexity reduces possible risk by proxy.

Zero downtime migration

Zero-downtime migration copies data from the original storage system to the target system. As a result, teams can access and operate on the original system while the migration is in process.

The benefits of this approach include significantly reduced business disruption, faster migration, and minimal cost.

Question #2: What’s the project scope?

Teams are advised to refrain from moving data at all until the scope and breadth of the project has been recognised. If teams are too hasty to begin migration, they risk compromising the data involved, or affecting data quality post migration.

Understanding the project scope doesn’t just involve agreeing a timescale and approach. This also includes:

  • Identifying the type of data being migrated
  • The size of the data
  • The operating systems
  • The source and target systems
  • The database platform

This can reduce the risk of encountering any unexpected challenges or issues that further affect both budget and time.

Question #3: Who is involved?

What teams will be involved throughout the migration process?

Data migration is a multi-faceted, complex undertaking. As a result, multiple teams, users, and stakeholders will be giving their input throughout the migration process.

Clearly communicating the entire process to all parties involved is vital. These teams and users should understand timescale, approach, and objectives, and should recognise their role within the project, and why it’s important.

With all team members aware of their roles and responsibilities, and with consistent communication throughout the project timeline, any risks due to miscommunication can be prevented. What’s more, any potential silos can be proactively managed, and any user that will be interacting with data moving forward will be aware of governance processes and the associated risks.

Learn more here: The evolution and future of data within enterprises

Question #4: What are the risks involved, and is there a contingency plan?

Data and cloud migration processes can involve several risks, from short-term disruption to loss of data. Before beginning the migration process and transferring data, understand the possible risks associated with your chosen approach, and implement contingency plans if the worst-case scenario does happen.

Going beyond this, teams should also consider what the effect of migration will be on overall stability and accessibility. Will it bring unwanted barriers or restrictions?

Consider backing up all data before migration and performing an in-depth risk analysis complete with mitigation planning, to ensure that you’re prepared.

Question #5: How will migration be monitored?

Auditing, monitoring, and maintaining new sources post-migration is essential. It ensures compliance with data governance processes and enables teams to identify any new unexpected risks.

Making any modifications as needed and raising awareness of any possible future opportunities for improvement allows users to check that the migration and any data integrations are performing as expected.

Our data migration solutions

At DataShapa, our team of specialists are able to fully manage and implement a range of solutions for your architecture. Capable of deploying a data migration project and managing ongoing maintenance, our services always follow our value-led approach. To learn more, read about our data engineering services here.

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