Moving data is an inevitable part of managing it, with many reasons to do so. Sometimes, the architecture is outdated. Other times, you find better or cheaper alternatives. Whatever your motivation, the process itself is nothing to scoff at.
If you want to move your data without disruptions to your business, you’re in the right place. In this article, we will discuss data migration strategies and best practices, so strap in, grab your notebook, and let’s go.
Planning for Data Migration
Before you start the project, there are some important questions to answer. First, ask yourself: “Why do I need to move my data? How will my business benefit? Are there better alternatives?”
While it may not dissuade you from migrating, it will clarify your motivation, which is vital for the next steps in the journey.
You also need to identify the following key metadata:
This will help you choose the tools, methods, and best practices for data migration.
The people moving your data are instrumental to the process and the results. Carefully select capable project managers and IT teams. And remember, communication is vital, so keep it clear and constant.
In the spirit of best practices of data migration, create a timeline for this operation. Depending on the complexity, chosen method, resource availability, and impact on day-to-day operations, the timeline will look different from project to project. Be honest and realistic with your expectations: you simply cannot move the equivalent of two Internets in a day, even with the best experts.
We get it. You want to dig your teeth into the meat of the process, but bear with us: you still have some preparatory work to do. With organizational stuff out of the way, there are still some operational steps you need to take according to data migration best practices.
Good migration starts with good data, so make it that way. Remove duplicates, correct errors, and standardize data formats. While there, create a mapping plan that defines how data will be transformed from the source to the target system. This includes field mapping, data translation, and data enrichment.
If, for some ungodly reason, you still don’t have backups, go and make them. Seriously. You need this stuff regardless, so now is a good time to remedy this issue. And if you have them already, check if they’re good and synchronize them with your new and improved data.
Finally, there are plenty of tools for data migration on the market. We think ours is the best, and we hope you do too. Whatever you pick, make sure it fits your purpose and has all the required functionality.
Data Migration Process
Now we’re getting to the good stuff. First, pick your poison, or rather your data migration technique: Big Bang method vs. Iterative/Trickle approach.
We’ve already discussed the difference between the iterative and Big Bang methods at length. To reiterate, the main difference is that with Big Bang, you move all of your data simultaneously with complete disregard for server uptime. It’s faster, cheaper, and simpler but will completely or partially restrict access for end users. Alternatively, the iterative approach allows you to migrate in iterations or phases, which significantly lengthens and complicates the process, not to mention raises costs. The end users feel the upside, as they will experience mild discomfort at most.
We recommend testing your data migration strategy in a controlled environment before going for the real deal. This allows you to rehearse your actions, especially in case of an incident. We also highly recommend logging and monitoring the whole process to have a place to start from when looking for potential errors.
As you finish moving your data, you need to check on it. Let’s explore data migration validation best practices to evaluate your project’s success.
First, you’ve got to validate and reconcile your data to confirm that it has been successfully transferred and is consistent with the source system.
Then, conduct user acceptance testing. It will ensure the end users are satisfied with their experience and that the migration had no negative impact on them.
Your monitoring does not end when the migration ends. Nope. It ends when you stop providing services. So, continue tracking performance and addressing performance issues.
Risks and Challenges
Data transfer is an arduous task and requires herculean efforts from your IT department. Here are some data migration tips to make their life easier.
Data Security and Compliance
Protecting data during migration is paramount. This involves implementing robust security measures to safeguard sensitive information. Encryption, access controls, and regular audits are essential components. Moreover, compliance with industry and regulatory standards must be maintained, and data protection laws, such as GDPR, HIPAA, or CCPA, should be adhered to. A breach of data security or non-compliance can result in legal consequences and damage to your reputation.
Handling Legacy Systems
Transitioning from legacy systems poses unique challenges for data migration. Decisions must be made regarding the retirement or integration of these older systems. Transfer necessary data from legacy systems, archive historical information, and ensure the preservation of institutional knowledge to keep your data fresh and clean.
Addressing Data Loss and Corruption
Data loss or corruption can occur during the migration process due to unforeseen issues. Regular backups and data integrity checks should be implemented to mitigate these risks. Data backup and disaster recovery plans must be comprehensive, and data should be validated at each stage of migration to detect and rectify any issues promptly.
Changes in scope and objectives can arise during a migration project, potentially impacting timelines and resources. Effective project management and communication are essential to manage scope creep. Clear documentation of project requirements and a well-defined change control process can prevent unnecessary deviations.
Data migration best practices call for adequate resource allocation, including personnel, hardware, and software, is crucial. Overloading systems or underestimating resource needs can lead to performance issues, data bottlenecks, and project delays. Careful project planning and ongoing monitoring ensure that resources are utilized efficiently.
User Communication and Expectation Management
Managing user expectations and providing clear communication during the migration process is an essential best practice for data migration. Keeping stakeholders informed about the progress, potential challenges, and expected outcomes of data migration can minimize anxiety and resistance. Training and support for end users are equally important to ensure a smooth transition to the new system.
Choose Hopp for Your Data Migration Project
Hopp is a trusted data migration product with many happy customers. Just look at this data migration case study with Hopp enabling a swift and efficient data migration for SBC with ICT.
Swindon Borough Council initiated a tender process in Autumn 2022 for a new Adult Social Care system. ICT Revolutions handled data discovery and was chosen as the implementation partner for data migration services, resulting in a successful go-live in September 2023.
Their choice was determined by their research, which highlighted the significant risks of data migration in the UK public sector. ICT Revolutions sought a solution that met their technical needs and selected Hopp Tech and its data migration software.
Challenges included a tight project timeline, infrastructure readiness, and resource coordination between Swindon Borough Council and ICT Revolutions. However, Hopp's software facilitated rapid data mapping, interim data loads, and issue tracking, ensuring project success.
In summary, a combination of thorough data discovery, efficient data migration software, and clear methodologies allowed ICT Revolutions to meet Swindon's tight timeline, setting a new standard in the sector. They now plan to expand their capabilities for future projects with Hopp Tech.
We have plenty more case studies and hope you become our next happy client!