Data migration means moving data permanently from one storage system to a different one. There are varied reasons for undertaking a data migration, from the obsolescence of older systems to novel marketing tools offered by a newer one that empowers a marketing strategy.
Data migration typically includes six major steps, each of which can include smaller steps or variations within its scope. You can usually break a data migration down this way:
1. Planning — Planning means thinking carefully about how the data will be used day-to-day, which informs the rest of the migration. Planning is also when goals are set and performance indicators are determined, useful yardsticks for measuring the success of a project. This is the time to define SMART goals and get everybody involved on board.
2. Data mapping — Data mapping is the process of matching fields from one database to another. In simple terms, if a field exists in the old system and you want to keep using that information, the data in that field needs a place to go in the new one.
3. Data transformation — Data transformation means changing the data’s organisation so it can be held in the new structures of the target system. This step is what ensures the data is useable once it has been migrated.
4. Testing and QA — To ensure quality, the data, or a representative sample of the data, gets migrated to a sandbox environment. Any problems with the process become evident here, so they can be rectified without threatening the live database.
5. Go live — The records are moved to the live environment. This is the moment where all the planning, mapping and testing come together!
6. Follow up and reporting — Final testing, clean up and reporting gets completed. This is where the results of the data migration will get compared to the performance indicators created during planning. It’s tempting to leave this step off as “post” data migration, but it’s a vital step for making sure the project has done its job.
When it comes to data migration, getting it wrong can prove disastrous. Excessive downtime can compromise business as usual activities and affect an organisation’s reputation, and poor planning or inconsistent data mapping can create myriad problems in the destination system. Poorly handled data can be lost entirely.
Data migration can be a high-risk activity if proper care is not taken—you can end up with a budget blowout, and nothing to show for it. That’s why many organisations prefer to talk to an expert before migrating their data.
If you have questions about data migration, you can contact us to arrange an obligation-free consultation with a data specialist.