Migrating Data to the Cloud: Conversion Considerations

Data Migration and Cloud Conversion from InterSoft Associates

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A key advantage of migrating data to the cloud is access – data is available anytime, anywhere, and to the appropriate people or integrated technologies that serve you best. Read on as we explore three crucial aspects before you start migration: Understanding scope, confidence in key stakeholders and partners, and continuity – keeping data processes going even in the midst of migration.

Defining Scope When Migrating Data To The Cloud

The most important consideration when migrating data is not technical, it is strategic. Proper planning of your migration will optimize an environment for success with your migration and minimize surprises and potential snags. What are your goals with migration? What benchmarks or milestones will help you realize that these goals are being met? How long will the migration take? Defining scope for your migration helps answer these and other questions:

  • Who will be doing what, and when will you be doing it?
  • How long is it anticipated that each of the component tasks in the project will take to complete, and how long will the entire project take to complete?
  • What is the budget?

consultative approach to help you define scope will go a long way to creating a smooth and seamless migration. In a cloud migration you are moving from one environment to another, so it is important to understand the different environments and what is available and possible. There are different cloud environments, and some may be better than others for what you are trying to accomplish. There may be multiple decisions and technologies that could suit your needs, and you may have various options to choose from. Among those options are going to be considerations for security, redundancy, backup scenarios, and disaster recovery.

As a business leader you are not and should not be required to understand the technologies involved in a data migration. You do, however, need to understand and appreciate the importance of the project. Having the right partner to deliver guidance is a highly strategic imperative to a successful cloud migration. It is crucial that you have confidence in your key stakeholders for the project.

Confidence in Key Stakeholders for Cloud Migration

Business leadership should be involved in planning for data migration. It is not usual for management to offload data migration projects to IT staff, but your data touches all parts of your organization. Executive leadership, as well as IT leadership, should be involved in high level planning and coordination.

Again, as timelines and budgets are part of the scope discussion, involvement from leadership is essential. But there is more to consider, requiring leadership’s perspective and support.

  • What insight might be required from both key and rank-and-file employees as part of the migration strategy?
  • How is the data you are migrating currently being used, and what is the future potential that data can serve the business?
  • What are contingency plans if key personnel with intimate knowledge of the data or systems leave the company? This is a really essential task for any organization.

Who should be responsible for data migration?

As you build your roster of stakeholders, consider what needs to accomplished in a successful data migration:

  • Auditing existing data and processes to validate them, ensure the accuracy and integrity of the data as well as the accuracy and integrity of processes, and resolve any issues or questions prior to migration.
  • Make sure that you are utilizing the right tools and technologies for a smooth data migration, emphasizing security, speed, risk management and the data migration software’s ability to connect and support existing systems. It is also important to consider the opportunities to leverage the data and systems even further.
  • Movement of data to the cloud (or to a new database, across networks, etc.). This might involve a Data Migration Specialist in your IT department or a trusted consultant like us at InterSoft Associates.
  • Testing and continued auditing after data migration to make sure everything is working according to the plan that was developed in scope and strategy.

You can see how essential it is to have an experienced, expert partner as part of the data migration team. Simply assigning “the IT guy” to get it done over the weekend is not the path to sustainable, stable success in migrating data to the cloud. There are tremendous risks in data and data integrity if not done properly

Continuity of Data During Migration

Finally, it is important that your business not be interrupted during migration, and downtime should be minimized or avoided. Your strategic plan should ensure be able to support business as usual while the migration is taking place. There are two predominant ways to practically execute data migration.

Big Bang Migration

In this approach to migration, all operations happen all at once. The old system is switched to a new one at a point in time.

Because changes happen at once, there is a single defined point of exchange. There is no need for parallel systems, which will avoid some cost, complexity and risk. Any disruption is minimal at most – usually with proper preparation and planning there is no disruption. 

On the other hand, it is essential that the previous work described around scope and stakeholder responsibilities is thoroughly explored to avoid unexpected issues. If a Big Bang Migration fails it can require a complete roll-back to previous infrastructure and data , which can be expensive, time consuming and run the risk of disrupting the enterprise. If any data issues are not identified ahead of the migration, you may be in for unwelcome and expensive surprises after the migration event.

Trickle Migration

As you might imagine, in Trickle Migrations, the process happens more slowly and in phases. A parallel system is deployed so the old system and the new one run concurrently. This generally avoids any downtime or interruptions at all as data is continuously in movement.

As the migration happens over time, rather than all at once, implementation can be more complex, have more risk of disruption and can be extremely time consuming. As you are maintaining multiple environments, costs and effort will likely increase. However, problems can be identified and addressed in real time, and risks can be reduced. Especially for enterprise organizations, these reassurances can be well worth any increased costs.

It is essential that you end up with one version of the truth with no data corruption

Data Migration, Drama Free

Remember that migrating data to the cloud does not necessarily mean changing what you are seeing or even how you are used to interfacing with your data. You are changing background architectures and technologies, but not necessarily the front-end that people are used to.

This is helpful to remember because sometimes organizations put off a cloud migration for fear that it will slow down existing processes or require new software or steep learning curves. Certainly new software may be part of the project – again, pointing to the necessity of a well designed scope and strategy – but strictly speaking data migration remains about data, not necessarily how it gets accessed.

Migrating your data to the cloud does not have to be difficult or painful, and it does not require your business to come to a halt while it gets sorted out. Seek out the guidance of experts to explore why migrating your data to the cloud might be a smart business decision and what might be involved in making it happen. Remember that here at InterSoft, that conversation is always free and easy.

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