We’ve all heard the term thrown around in tech talk, but just what is data migration? For those who don’t already know the basics, this term refers to the transport of data from one computer, device or format to another, but in practice it is typically much more complicated than that. In most cases, people are referring to the transfer of large sets of data from one content management system, or multiple systems, into a centralized storage system where the data will be cleansed and streamlined before implementing and providing access to the new system.

he process involves many steps and is more complicated than merely mapping the system data to automatically migrate content through scripts or software programs. It is a complex task that involves many layers of communication, planning and careful implementation. It is also a vital project for many organizations to complete in order to stay ahead of the technology curve, but there are many factors to consider before embarking on such a complex task. Organizations must plan carefully before beginning the data migration process, considering the following factors as well as any others that are unique to their industry or situation.

Different Types of Data Migration

There are several different types of data migration that an organization may orchestrate, including the following:

  • application migration
  • business process migration
  • database migration
  • storage migration

Many organizations routinely migrate data several times a year to upgrade storage capabilities, while database migrations are typically only necessary during system consolidations and upgrades or new system implementations. A highly complex data migration can potentially cause major disruptions to an organization, including compatibility issues, long periods of downtime and performance problems. This is why it is so important to carefully plan, implement and validate the data migration process with the right technology tools to ensure success. For many organizations, successful data migration also requires the guidance of an experienced consultant or consulting team before, during and after the implementation process.

How to Plan an Effective Data Migration

Planning is the key to successfully migrating data, but this is only possible with knowledge and understanding about the architectural requirements of your data infrastructure, such as data value and volume, as well as hardware, replication and scheduling requirements. Effective data migration planning starts with communication before the installation and configuration process begins, so everyone involved understands how any new software is going to be installed, how any required hardware is going to be configured and how it will affect their workflow. An automated data migration process is typically preferable when possible because it reduces the need for downtime and human intervention, but this still requires a lot of planning beforehand. Considerations such as documentation, tracking, cost analyses and risk reduction must come into play when planning for any critical implementation and configuration. An effective plan should also consider the necessary steps to take after completing the data migration process, including statistical validation, assessment of data quality and accuracy, and cleansing to improve data quality and remove any redundant data.

Final Data Migration Considerations

Of course, you must understand how data is actually migrated in order to plan for it, but there will also be many important decisions to make once the research is complete and the planning is underway. Some of the most critical factors to consider during this analytical phase include the source structure of the legacy system, the target structure of the new system, whether manual or automated migration is more appropriate, what data (if any) needs to be cleansed and the process of field mapping between the two systems or structures. Analyzing both the current and target systems, along with all these other complex analytical tasks, takes experience and knowledge of applications, processes, database infrastructures and storage systems. Since data migration is so vital a consideration for businesses to make when adopting or developing a new system, this task is often best left to the professionals. Business process consultants can not only help organizations decide whether they need to migrate their data, what sort of system is most appropriate and how to best go about it, but they will also give this task the consideration, planning and focus that it deserves, so the organization can achieve their desired goals.