Learn more about the challenges involved in planning a data migration project at enterprise scale and explore best practices to ensure your project’s success.
Data migration is the process of transferring data from one storage system or computing environment to another.
There are many reasons your enterprise might need to undertake a data migration project. For example, you might be replacing servers or storage devices or consolidating or decommissioning data center. Data migration is also an essential step in the overall process of migrating on-premises IT infrastructure to a cloud computing environment.
Whether you’re moving to a public cloud, private cloud, hybrid cloud, or multicloud environment, you’ll need to find a secure, cost-effective, and efficient method of migrating your data to its new storage location.
Today, businesses generate ever-growing amounts of data and face increasingly urgent pressure to maximize the value they extract from it. In this climate, success depends increasingly on choosing optimal environments for your workloads and making sure your data is stored efficiently and accessibly.
Many enterprises are choosing to move workloads to the cloud in hopes of hosting their applications in the most cost-effective and best-performing IT environment available. Selecting the right data migration solution is a key component of the cloud migration planning process and should be considered even in its earliest stages.
You can choose among several options for transferring data from a local data center to the cloud, but broadly speaking, they fall into two categories:
The best option for your specific data migration project depends upon how much data you need to move, how quickly the migration must be accomplished, the types of workloads involved, and your security requirements.
For an overview of available data migration options, Katie Morgan’s video, “Data Migration Explained”:
Database migration is an example of specialized workload migration. Many public and private cloud providers offer tools that can facilitate or automate parts of the database migration process to ensure that your database remains secure throughout the transfer and that no data loss or corruption occurs. Additionally, most cloud providers offer migration services that can verify your data’s integrity after the transfer.
Typically, the first step in the database migration process involves converting the source database’s schema (if necessary) so that it’s compatible with the target database. A database’s schema is like a blueprint for how it is organized, controlling its logical architecture and structure. If the target database management system uses a data definition language (DDL) that is not compatible with the source’s, the schema will need to be converted.
The next steps are to migrate the data and set up ongoing incremental data warehouse updates. You can also consolidate multiple different databases into one during this process, if necessary. To learn more about how data is organized when stored in the cloud, take a look at “Cloud Databases Explained.”
Migrating an entire data center environment to the cloud or another location is a large-scale, comprehensive process. Completing such a migration project successfully—with minimal downtime or disruption to operations—requires careful planning and coordination.
When contemplating a data center migration or any other large-scale data migration project, it’s important to consider timelines early in the planning stages, since petabyte-scale transfers can take multiple weeks to complete, even with relatively high-speed network connections.
The more carefully your enterprise plans its data migration, the less likely you are to encounter surprise costs or unplanned downtime and the less likely it is that your end users will be frustrated or inconvenienced during and after the migration. You’ll want to establish goals, set a timeline, and anticipate any challenges that you may encounter.
There are three primary factors you should consider when determining how you’ll approach the project:
To ensure that your project goes smoothly, adhere to the following best practices:
Though the benefits of modernizing IT systems outweigh the risks associated with data migration—especially over the long term—data migration can be stressful and risky. Here are some of the risks to account for:
Today, there are plenty of tools to facilitate enterprise data migrations. These include vendor-specific solutions offered by cloud providers to support their customers’ move into their public or private cloud environment, as well as licensed and open source tools. Your data migration strategy will determine which tools work best for your project.
Some popular choices include the following:
A data migration service can supplement your in-house capabilities or manage the entire migration process from strategy through completion, testing, and documentation. The latter type of service—often referred to as “white glove data migration service”—is more expensive, as you’d expect, but may be worthwhile when your in-house data migration expertise is limited and the applications you’re migrating are business-critical. A database migration consultant can help you plan a cost-effective migration process that minimizes or eliminates downtime.
Data is the driving force behind every successful organization. It’s important to get the most out of your data, using it to take intelligent action and enhance the customer experience. See what your data can do for you as you modernize your applications on your journey to cloud.
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