What is Data Migration? Types, Challenges, and Solutions

what is data migration

Data migration is a required business process that occurs regularly. Whether implementing a brand-new system or moving information to secure storage locations, having a successful data migration strategy that helps businesses is vital for executive and IT teams.

But as per the recent data survey, about fifty percent of all data migration projects will either exceed the predetermined budgets or damage the overall business because of flawed strategy or execution. Most individuals believe that data migration projects are often complex and involve multiple systems, technology, and technical teams.

Fortunately, there are many migration tools, procedures, and strategies you can utilize to make data migration more seamless and cost-efficient. Read on for the PMTT informational guide to data migration to make your attempts more successful every time.

What is Data Migration?

Data migration is the task of transferring data between different types of file formats, databases, or storage systems. It is often more than just moving data from one system to another. Data migration can include complicated processes like data mapping and re-formatting.

Moving data to a new storage device to replace an old system or transferring data from on-premises storage to a cloud storage solution are two common instances of data migration. You might be upgrading an application database with another hardware, needing data migration to new devices.

Regardless of the type of data migration you are attempting, there are several vital components you will have to consider:

  • Data Integrity
  • Data Quality
  • Cost
  • Business Impact
  • User Experience
  • Data Assessment
  • Potential Downtime

Data Migration versus Data Integration

While data integration and migration may sound similar, they are two completely different undertakings. Each requires different strategies and techniques, so you will need to ensure that you are using the right tools for each task.

With data integration, you will be taking two different data repositories and merging them into one. You will often see this merge in big data projects that need large data stores of data to be made accessible for several analytics tasks.

While in the data integration process, different types and formats of data are merged and consolidated under one specific task. With data migration, you are moving data from one store to another, with all data usually required to be in the same format.

Secure Data Migration Strategies

Data migration takes place for numerous reasons, yet as a rule, to enhance the performance and competitiveness of your IT operations and overall business. Properly organized data can be advantageous and more proficient, and data housed in one place in a single format assists reduce the need for and cost of various systems and hardware.

The result of poorly executed data migrations can likewise be significant. The outcome can be inaccurate data, redundancies, or different issues that require remediation following the fact. The truth is that a poor job of data migration can ruin the data that is accurate, organized, and well-structured.

An organized data migration strategy assists avoid missed deadlines, incomplete plans, and monetary overruns that can cause the project to fail. A comprehensive data migration strategy likewise helps you – keep all team members and stakeholders on the same page, accomplishing the required tasks more accurately and quicker.

Principally, your data migration technique should be secure and compliant. Not applying the required regulatory measures and cybersecurity can result in a data breach and regulatory fines for non-compliance.

Data Migration Types Include:

types of data migration

Data Types

  • Storage
  • Database
  • Application

Migration Methods:

  • Wholesale
  • Incremental

Data migrations can take a wide range of different forms. The following are the most common types of data migration and what each migration entails. 

Storage Migration

This type of migration focuses on transferring data from one storage device to a different one. It can take place both on-premises or using the cloud. Although storage migrations are the most direct type of migration, it does not mean you can easily take a copy and paste approach with something like STB of data. You will require a verified plan coupled with execution alongside comprehension of where data is going and who should be assigned to access it.

Database Migration

With database migration, you are typically upgrading a database tool and moving the complete installed database of files to a different device. Database migrations are more routinely involved than storage migration because you deal with higher volumes of data stored in multiple file formats. You will need to backup databases, detach them from the tool, and migrate the files to a new database tool. Then you can restore files to a new site and database. 

Application Migration

This specific type of migration can be a mixture of both storage and database migrations. When you are moving a complete software application from one place to a different place – they generally have databases, folders, and other installation files are required to shift to an alternate server, for example. You may also need to work with the application vendor to take any extra steps that are well defined to the software to certify things – go appropriately, and the applications run smooth post-migration. 

Wholesale and Incremental

While the above-depicted types of data migrations refer to the different technical aspects of migration, there are multiple ways to deal with migration. You might choose a wholesale method, where the complete migration is done in one go and completed within a predetermined time. You can either choose incremental migration or transfer data in stages. A wholesale method is surveyed and considered good because it is essentially “one and done” – where incremental migrations allow you to keep systems working online during the entire process. You will have to survey your business needs and technology requirements to decide which approach is ideal for your business.

Data Migration Plan of Action Components

Relocating sensitive data is not an event to be taken lightly. Therefore, starting a data migration without a complete plan of action and strategy is incredibly impulsive. Fortunately, there is a set of an action plans that will serve you well while implementing your data migration strategy.

Migration Planning

Conclude what data need to move and the systems that will get impacted. Migration arrangement means evaluating and anticipating the issue; the project will have on the business stability. 

Project Initiation

Every data migration plan needs a set date and action plan for initiation. Recognize key partners and brief them on which role everyone will execute. 

Analyze Landscape

Discover how the migration fits within your larger IT environment. Layout processes like how you will decommission legacy systems. 

Design Solutions

Map out from a technical outlook how you need to move which data and locate where. Put resources and processes in place to guarantee data quality. 

Building and Testing

It is the part where you will code the software logic that will help automate the migration process. Assure to test the code and verify it in a mirror sandbox environment. 

Execute and Validate

You will need to demonstrate that the migration software and processes will be compelling in moving data safely and is feasible for business use. 

Decommission and Monitoring

Discarding old legacy systems is the final part of your migration technique. have the arrangement to do so securely.

Common Data Migration Challenges and Solutions

Even with a complete data migration plan, you can still expect to experience some challenges common to migration projects. 

Migration Bad Habits

A few organizations neglect to get rid of poor data or IT practices during data migration. Explicitly, migration project managers can acquire broken files or data structures that will create additional obstacles if migrated that way. Make sure that the moment you switch over, you are abandoning poor processes or corrupt files behind. 

Inability to Automate

Data migrations require many moving parts, and an absence of automation and complementary software solutions can be time-consuming or results in errors. Utilize tools like data transport tools that automatically transfer data from one storage server to another. It will save much of your time and lessen difficulties while maintaining and updating file access permissions (Authorization). 

No contingency Plan

One of the prime data migration failures that may happen is not having a contingency plan for potential slips up. You will be required to treat data migration as if you were moving a large amount of cash to another bank. Data is profoundly valuable to any business, so you want to have potential failure points outlined and a contingency activity plan set up.

Tips to Make Your Data Migration Perfect

Moving sensitive information is a delicate task and must be treated as such. Here are a few best

practices to make sure your migration project runs smoothly.

Follow a Migration Plan

Your business should have a comprehensive plan for what data is required to be moved, where it is going, and how you will get it there. Your arrangement must also set parameters for who should have authorized access to the respective data. Your migration action plan should shape each step and whom to involve. Additionally, consider the possible downtime to your system and technical or compatibility issues. Data integrity and security should likewise feature prominently in your data migration strategy. 

Comprehension of Your Data

Closely analyze the data that you are going to be migrating. Specifically, search for weed-out data that is stale, outdated, dummy, or no longer required. Separating that data apart; for disposal will not make your migration uncomplicated but also allow your staff to work with a clean data set after migration. Additionally, comprehend if there is available regulated data that require defined security protocols for compliance objectives. 

Implement Migration Policies

It is not sufficient to likely have a plan in place. You will need to detail organization-wide data migration policies and the right system arrangement to enforce them. Your policies must certify that the data is located in the certified location and is proficiently protected once migrated. You may even automate your migration policies to make objective data more secure and create rules to access re-permission data during migration. 

Test and Validate Migrated Data

Once you have successfully migrated, you will need to make sure everything is where it should be. Part of testing and validating refers – to creating an automatic retention policy to forestall data leakage. Likewise, make sure to clean up unwanted data and double-check permissions. Back up old generation legacy systems as well so that assuming the system happens to go offline, you will have alternate access to them in a separate, secure data location. 

Review and Document Processes

You will require full documentation for your compliance team once you complete it. Depending on region and industry, regulators may require verification that you have taken adequate care of sensitive data like EHR, financial, or related to healthcare information. Reviewing the process not just provides a record that you have done everything correctly, but it will likewise help you spot gaps to improve on for the – upcoming data migration.

Tools to Automate and Make Data Migration Less Complex

Data migrations can be large and troublesome attempts. It is especially true when you transfer sensitive data subject to regulatory compliance. That is why it is essential to have both a plan in place for secure migration and the right technological tools to make sure things go without a hitch.

PMTT Data Transport tools will help you move a large amount of data between storage devices and various software platforms. You can transfer data to SharePoint if you work using the Microsoft suite. The data transfer tools can assist with arranging data for cloud migration and smooth out the process by implementing rules that separate the relevant information – that you need to migrate from the old data that you can ignore or delete.

You will also be able to use the data transport tools to map permissions from one system to other, even if you are moving from Microsoft New Technology File System (NTFS) to Network File System (NFS).

PMTT data mapping tools help bring complete visibility to where your data is lying, who has access to it, and who will utilize their access throughout your migration. We provide detailed visualizations that will help reduce risk before, during, and post your migration.

Data migration is like moving your valuables from one location to another. You need to take intense care and consideration that your most valued possessions, data, in this case, get them safely where they need to be. Creating a robust data migration plan, implementing the right technology, and finding experienced partners are vital components that ensure your project runs smoothly and your expected data arrives safely in its new home.



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