Step-by-step guide to planning data migration

Step-by-step guide to planning data migration

In today’s rapidly changing world, outdated and complex systems can hold a business back. Unfortunately, many organizations are hesitant to modify or upgrade their systems for fear of losing essential original files and programs. This is where data migration can help.

Data migration involves moving data, accounts, and applications from one operating environment to another. This could be from an on-premises infrastructure to a cloud-based one, from one server to another, or from cloud to cloud. A successful data migration can ensure that all users are able to access their accounts in the new operating environment without missing data or functionality.

The problem is, migrating the same software from one piece of computer hardware to another can be hard. And changing both software and hardware simultaneously can be a nightmare. Because so many things can go wrong, it’s well worth developing a plan that irons out all the details and then following through with it meticulously.

Bear in mind these steps to help guide your data migration process.

1. Define the scope of your project

Data migration can be performed in several ways. The traditional method requires uninstalling old software and then installing new software on a machine. Re-hosting, on the other hand, involves moving data and applications from one location (like a local server or computer) into a new hosting environment (like a cloud platform or virtual machine). Finally, package implementation entails replacing old applications with off-the-shelf solutions but doing so in phases, until eventually doing away with the old system.

Before you begin your migration, assess the different aspects of your project. Consider the following:

  • Objectives and deadlines
  • Risks, including opportunity costs and compliance issues
  • Long-term budget needs
  • Technical aspects and requirements
  • Functions that will be affected or forced into downtime (and at what stages of the project)

Scoping the project thoroughly will allow you to choose which migration method is the most advantageous for your business. Doing so will also help you take the necessary precautions to avoid potential complications.

2. Detail your migration methodology

An essential part of your project plan is a migration methodology, which details the information mentioned in the first section as well as the following:

  • Specifications of the migration (e.g., how the data can be extracted, how it can be transferred, and how to verify its accessibility and functionality once integrated into the new platform)
  • Tools and constraints
  • Recovery options for every stage (should there be a hitch)

Compile all of these to determine realistic timing and checkpoints in the migration process.

3. Prepare the data meticulously

Your data must be in perfect condition for it to be extracted and transferred successfully. Here are a few data preparation steps you need to see through:

  • Examine how your old and new systems work, and how the data in each system is structured.
  • Validate the data and identify if it’s fit for the process or the purpose of the migration.
  • Verify if your older data meets or passes the requirements that your new platform offers.
  • Check if your data is in the correct format and standard for its new host platform.
  • Identify and create a retirement plan for data that is no longer needed in the new platform (and therefore unnecessary to the transfer).
  • Perform data cleansing, which will make sure that the data is accurate, complete, and accessible.
  • Check if the steps above have an impact on the other elements of your current system and the targeted platform.

4. Ensure data security

Your data’s security is of the utmost importance, so your migration plan must also include measures to keep your data from being accidentally deleted, stored in the wrong place, or worse, intercepted by malicious actors.

Generally, you’d want to keep close track of what’s happening to your data, documenting every action or process that involves such. It also pays to take inventory of your assets and make the necessary backups should the migration result in data corruption or data loss. And to ensure secure access to data, the storage and retrieval processes must involve proper encryption and decryption.

The key to ensuring a smooth migration is having a well-defined security policy. This is a document that contains directions and actions that the people performing the migration need to strictly abide by.

5. Perform the migration in phases

It’s recommended to perform any migration in phases, with every step properly documented. After each phase, test whatever you’ve moved, making sure it works correctly and integrates well with the new environment. Doing so will allow you to catch problems early and make the necessary changes before data is lost and progress is wasted.

Still need help planning data migration?

Planning any IT migration project can be overwhelming, so it’s best to enlist the help of an expert.

Our consultants at Prosum have the experience, knowledge, and desire to understand your business and its tech requirements. We will help you choose and implement the most advanced yet cost-effective IT solutions to meet your unique needs. Learn how else we can keep your business productive.


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