The heart of a business is in its infrastructure, and infrastructure evolves. When that happens, data must be migrated from one system to the next. The company’s entire history is stored in your data – ready for data analysis, audits, and sometimes records of decades-long customer relationships. Some businesses went through their digital transformation so long ago that they once digitized the film from tapes. Some remember the migration from mainframes to modern PCs and servers. A great many have now migrated from PCs and servers to the cloud.
More businesses every day are going through complete and partial data migrations. One department may migrate to upgrade its platform of tools, or the company may migrate archives and infrastructure away from technology that has grown archaic to the next cutting-edge solution. However, if this is your first major data migration, there are more than a few ways to invite disaster.
Data migration is a huge task with millions of opportunities for error. If done carelessly, you get technical difficulties of the highest order. If done neatly and meticulously, your staff is left with the delight of a new system with their archive of data already at their fingertips.
Let’s explore some of the most common data migration mistakes and how your team can easily avoid them.
1) Migrating into a Mystery System
Know your system before you migrate into it. Have key staff members spend time exploring the new platform, creating test cases and getting to know the features. The data won’t be at anyone’s fingertips if your team doesn’t know how to access it.
Both your IT team handling the migration and those who will most use the platform afterward should explore the features, functions, and what it’s like to handle data in the system before the migration. This will not only help you plan a better data migration, but it will also help your teams more quickly adapt to the system once migrated.
2) Migrating At the Wrong Time
There are times when a company can soak a little disruption, and times when it can’t. Planning a data migration is a lot like planning an office renovation. Copying and moving files takes resources, and it may leave certain teams in a data limbo while their files and systems are being transferred. Even if you plan for your teams to keep using the old system while the new one is prepared, the transfer itself or the resource usage can cause errors in the system.
You want to schedule a data migration for nights, weekends, and slow weeks in your business cycle. Nights and weekends allow you to optimize resources for the migration and work in a clean, unchanging data environment between the two systems. Planning for a slow week ensures that any aberrations that could occur during data migration have the minimum impact on your team and operations.
3) Migrating Your Junk Files
When relocating offices or moving between homes, you don’t bring crates of old junk mail – but businesses often migrate their entire file systems without culling the junk.
Why use your resources and effort on migrating files you don’t need? This is the perfect opportunity to remove all junk mail, old temporary files, programs you don’t need, intermediate backups, and miscellaneous downloads. Every email spam folder can be removed. Wipe out any program not serving a function – and all the data attached to it. Take this opportunity to purge your email lists, and archive old customer and employee data. A data migration is the best moment to lean down your data, shedding junk and potentially culling old malware along the way.
4) Skipping the Prep of Both Files and Destination
Removing junk is an example of preparing your company’s data for migration. But just one step. In any migration, both the data and the target platform should be prepared to combine. Your data may need to be adapted to fit the new formats of the new system. For example, a new system might use a different date format, or have more and different names for certain shared variables. Preparing your data allows a smoother automated transition of large bodies of data and full system configurations.
Preparing your file destination allows you to get all your security and operational settings in place before errors can be caused when the body of legacy data is imported. Make sure you’re using the right database types, and that your built-in passwords match (or are updated altogether). Preparing both the data and the new platform will help to minimize hiccups in the new system and prevent data disasters.
5) Forgetting to Test Migration Success
Speaking of data disasters, always test a theory before implementing it. Testing data migration at every step of the process is essential when considering something as important as your business’s operational infrastructure.
Test to ensure that:
- The method you will use to migrate data works.
- The data functions correctly in the new platform after being migrated
- Migrating large sets of data is successful
- Migrating more than one category and nested file systems is successful
- Outlier cases are handled
- Data at no point is lost or corrupted during the migration
6) Roughly Estimating the Migration Time and Cost
You might be surprised to learn how often a data migration estimate is really a rough “guestimate” with no real understanding of data file sizes, transfer speeds, and the available hours to operate the transfer. This is one of the reaons that a trained data migration specialist is often consulted to build a data migration plan that includes a more accurate and data-based estimate of the cost requirements for a data migration.
After calculating the size of your data migration, the originating and target systems, and the transfer speeds available, your data migration specialist will be able to give a more accurate estimate of the hours needed to complete the migration. From there, you can build a schedule of transfers and data handling during low-activity hours for your company systems.
7) Migrating Manually without Automation
Modern data migrations are massive. There are thousands, hundreds of thousands, and millions of data entries depending on how busy your company is. Most of this data, however, is already organized into classes and similar-set databases that can be automatically migrated far more easily than you could manually migrate – even for those savvy in handling servers.
Automated data migration takes the best migration process and then iterates over your full data set. In this way, you can carefully insert the data from an old system to a new system – even with unmatching data forms – in order to migrate company data without manual entries and hand-selected transfers.
8) Forgetting to Test the Migration’s Complete Success
The other side of the automation coin is the need for human auditing and testing. Your automation may not be able to handle outlier test cases, or some of the transfers may have simply been interrupted or incomplete due to signal variance from your internet provider or router. Check everything.
Make sure that a complete data migration is also fully operational. Asl your testers or even your teams to explore, try to touch and access all their operational data, and report back. Your migration software may have also produced a log of errors and alerts that can guide you toward potential areas where an error may have occurred, or where minor data corrections may be necessary.
9) Data Migration Without an Expert Plan
All of these common mistakes are why the most organized, efficient, and error-resistant data migrations come from consulting with a specialist. Data migrations are both large-scale and extremely precise. Every piece of data matters, and every migration from one system to the next is unique. It takes forward planning and an eagle-eye perspective on the entire system to plan the most efficient data migration for both the company and the data itself.
You can rely on The Provato Group as your data migration specialists to plan and implement the smoothest possible upgrade of your company’s infrastructure.