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Navigating Through Data Migration Challenges: Your Route to Success

Navigating Through Data Migration Challenges: Your Route to Success

By Neal Williams, Director of Sales, cStor and MicroAge

Data Migration Challenges
Did you know that in just a decade, data usage has increased by an incredible 5,000%? According to Forbes, between 2010 and 2020 data creation, capture, copy and consumption climbed from 1.2 trillion gigabytes to 59 trillion gigabytes. And, that number is set to grow into zettabytes within the next few years.

That’s an overwhelming sea of data, which is no wonder why migrating that data within an organization is such a complex task. No, we are not talking about managing zettabytes of data within the business just yet, but no doubt that data is everywhere. And, efforts to modernize and migrate that data are critical to optimizing performance and keeping your business afloat, but safely crossing those waters can be a high-risk proposition. Given that, here are some key tips to navigate your data migration project to steer you on the route to success.

Plotting Your Course in Advance

The first step to navigating your data migration project is the Strategy & Planning Phase. Here are some common challenges and how to avoid them.

1. No migration strategy or poor documentation of the strategy. Since the strategy provides the map and guidance for your migration, lack of proper planning or documentation can pose a huge risk, causing the team to go over budget, create massive delays, not meet the proper goals and ultimately even fail. A successful data migration plan will not only cover the overall goals and objectives but will also include the thorough assessment, preparation, migration and management of the data, systems, security, timeline and people involved in the process.

2. No formal data governance plan. According to Tech Target, “data governance is the process of managing the availability, usability, integrity and security of the data in enterprise systems, based on internal data standards and policies that also control data usage.” Lack of a plan can create data quality and data security risks, which is especially important when migrating data due to the many variables, access points and often adjustments required. A successful data migration plan should include data governance roles and responsibilities, data quality standards, and data security policies.

3. Lack of system documentation. Often the most common challenge we see is a lack of documentation, especially involving legacy systems. This can be particularly challenging since most organizations today have several disparate systems that hold different types of data, all of which often need to be merged into a unified system. Proper system documentation helps define what the data is and how it should be migrated, mapping out which systems need to be updated or consolidated prior to migration.

Knowing Your Load to Ensure Safe Data Passage

The next step is to Conduct an Assessment and Pre-Checks of the Data and the Environment. Knowing your load is important. If you were a sea vessel carrying loads that could shift in transport and sink you, you would need to assess the passage to ensure it was safe. The same goes for data loads – assessment of what types, amounts and structures of the data are critical prior to migration in order to avoid “sinking” your project. Here are some of the challenges we’ve seen within this area.

1. Proper identification of data sources. One of the most common things we see is a lack of understanding about the amount and type of data being migrated. “Surprise” data – meaning data you didn’t realize was in another system or in the volume you expected – is never a good thing once the migration is underway. It can lead to significant delays and budget overruns. To overcome this, it is important to understand the data structure of all systems and map the data accordingly. This ensures the data will migrate correctly into the new architecture, even if the legacy systems are structured differently.

2. Data has not been analyzed or cleaned. Unreliable data post-migration – whether data is duplicated, inaccurate, mapped incorrectly, or compromised – can be detrimental to both the team performing the migration and the organization as a whole. Often data quality issues occur when the data in the legacy system is incomplete or inaccurate and has not been properly reviewed. Extensive data and system analysis should be performed prior to migration to ensure safety, integrity and completeness. If data quality issues are found, remediation should happen first. This includes knowing if the data or systems contain mission-critical or intellectual property that should have additional security protocols in place for the access and handling of that data.

Limiting Disruptions and Avoiding Route Delays

The last phase of the process is Data Migration and Validation. A good captain knows that time is money, and they plan the route to optimize travel time and limit any delays. A good migration team does the same – taking into account any necessary disruptions or outages that need to occur while helping maintain business continuity and operational stability to deliver the project successfully and on time.

The final step is to ensure the data was delivered accurately and completely, ensuring no surprise delays along the route. A variety of end-to-end validation checks should test both the legacy and new sets of data to compare accuracy, redundancy and consistency. Security testing should also be conducted to ensure there are no vulnerabilities with the new data and systems in place. Validation checks post-migration give your organization and key stakeholders confidence in the data quality and ensures the success of the overall migration project.

In Summary

Data is the lifeblood of any business, so treating it with care and ensuring accuracy and availability before, during and after the migration is mission-critical.

To ensure data migration success, cStor employs a rigorous, proven Data Transition Methodology so your migration process is well-planned from beginning to end to reduce costs, speed return on investment, reduce downtime risk and improve performance.

Contact me to find out how we can help successfully guide your next data migration voyage.

About Neal Williams
Neal Williams serves as the Director of Sales.
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