If you’re in the process of upgrading your internal business infrastructure, one of the problems you’re going to run into early on is how you will get all your data from one system to another without losing any of it. Also known as data migration.
For many organisations, data migration is the first and most important hurdle that accompanies expansion or growth, and it’s a step that needs to be taken seriously if they want to be up and running without delay.
A lot of firms in Malta find data migration a time consuming and difficult process, but it doesn’t need to be a struggle.
Here’s everything you need to know about data migration.
What is data migration?
Data migration is the process of moving data from one form to another, whether it’s a different location, application, or a different format, and it occurs when a business moves to a different system for data storage and processing. This happens because all business data, no matter what form or location it takes, is stored in a single manner, and the introduction of new systems can interfere with the functionality of that system.
What types of data migration are there?
There’s multiple ways for data to be stored, but there’s only three methods that you can use to transfer it, and all of them depend on how much IT staff (and data!) you currently have. Data migration is a lengthy process that typically needs the supervision of an IT department, so businesses with a small IT team need to keep that in mind.
The three types of data migration are:
- Cloud – whether you’re moving your data from one cloud to another or from an onsite storage solution to the cloud, moving your data to the cloud comes with the additional benefits of being inherently secure due to the higher encryption offered by cloud storage services. Additionally, cloud-based storage services make information available to anyone within the organisation without the need to be physically present in a given location.
- Storage – from an older version to a more modern storage drive, storage to storage migration is faster and more cost-effective than cloud or application, and can also help you manage your data to avoid duplication or wasted storage space. Additionally, it can prove to be far more secure as the drive might not have access to the internet.
- Application – moving applications from physical storage to cloud or an updated form of the same application, application migration is one of the least disruptive processes for data migration, but can be a struggle to accurately determine which operating environment is best to port to and might not be capable of porting everything.
Problems of data migration
Data migration shouldn’t be a problem, but there are a few common issues that crop up often.
When it comes to changing things to a more modern way of storage, it’s vital that you agree to an organisation plan before you actually start the data migration process – otherwise the likelihood is that you’ll end up with a mess on your hands once the process is complete.
There will always be some kind of data loss when moving from one system to another, but you can avoid losing any important information by backing up your systems before you move. This is an essential move that should not be skipped over as it enables IT personnel to rollback for any problems or missing data.
Although it should be simple to move data from one location to another, in practice you can run into a problem with compatibility, and some files could end up inaccessible and key applications could stop working.
Lack of space
Yes, it’s true: you can run out of space. While migrating from a hardware storage location to a software storage location, be prepared that some applications or assets will increase in size due to the way that the different locations operate and how they’re coded in those environments.
Data migration: how to
Ideally, data migration should only be undertaken by seasoned IT professionals who have some experience in performing similar migrations for either your business or another organisation. The problems that could occur during a poor data migration are not easily resolved, and the very worst outcome could lead to catastrophic data loss and a downed system for days.
There are seven key steps in the data migration process that should not be omitted:
- Understanding the data: audit every piece of data you’re willing to transfer. Is it usable? Does it have any issues that need to be resolved? Once these problems are identified, spend some time fixing them – data that is going to be transferred should be as error-free as possible.
- Back up the data and test the resources you’re using to do this.
- Create a data strategy migration plan and make sure that every step you’re undertaking corresponds to the strategy. Do not move away from this plan for any reason.
- Test the system that you’re going to migrate to. Understand how your data will fit into, and see that you have enough space to hold all your data without a loss of quality or quantity.
- Automate the migration process. A manual process is prone to human errors and mistakes, apart from being very time consuming.
- Transfer the data in batches for complete safety, testing each batch as soon as it makes its way into the new environment.
- Audit once all the transfers have been completed.
While this seems like a massive undertaking for any individual or corporation, IT professionals are well equipped to handle even the most complex data migration with the aid of automation. It’s therefore essential that this process should only be performed by IT professionals with plenty of experience.
When should I migrate my data?
If you’re thinking of changing systems or your own system has become outdated, it might be time to consider migrating your data. Typically, every business undergoes a data migration process at least once: as the company grows and expands, it’s necessary to change the way you store your data or the way you do business.
Some situations that might be better served by data migration are:
- Moving from one financial system to a different one.
- Upgrading your ERP from one system to another
- Creating a new website to take the place of an old one.
- Moving a database from an outdated storage method to the cloud or a different physical server.
A general rule of thumb is to look at how your systems are working out for you at the moment. If you’re struggling, losing data, or the system itself is hard to get working, it might be time for a change.
Thinking of migrating your data into a new system? Need some advice on how to go about it? Send us a message and we’ll be happy to help!