If you’re preparing to replace or upgrade servers, conduct server maintenance, or relocate to a data center, following a data migration plan can streamline the process. Without one, there’s a high risk that, during the process of transferring your data between systems and formats, you’ll wind up with costly downtime, corrupted, lost, and misplaced files, compatibility issues and more.
A detailed data migration plan is the essential first step in a successful data migration project to select, prepare, extract, transform and transfer data of the correct form and quality. Below we outline seven steps to a successful data migration.
1. Identify the data format, location, and sensitivity
Before you begin the data migration process, identify what data you’re migrating, what format it’s currently in, where it lives, and what format it should be in post-migration. By identifying this information, you’ll be armed with knowledge going into the project. During this pre-planning process, you may spot potential risks that you’ll need to plan for prior to the move, or realize that certain security measures must be taken as you migrate specific data. This pre-planning step can save you from making a critical error during the actual migration process.
Tip: Choose a method you are comfortable with, whether that’s a spreadsheet or whiteboard. Remember, it’s the process that’s important.
2. Planning for the size and scope of the project
Once you have an understanding of the data being moved, define the scope of the data migration plan. Plan out the resources you’ll need to use during the migration and put a realistic budget in place.
Conduct an advanced analysis of both the source and target system, and write out a flexible timeline for the project. Consider whether the data migration will interfere with normal business operations, or contribute to downtime. You may be able to plan the migration to take place after hours or on weekends to avoid interrupting business continuity.
Tip: Be sure to communicate with key stakeholders about the timeline and potential down time.
3. Backup all data
Prior to the migration, make sure that all of your data is backed up, especially the files that you’ll be migrating. If you encounter any problems during migration, such as corrupt, incomplete, or missing files, you’ll have the ability to correct the error by restoring the data in it’s original state.
Tip: Cloud backup is the safest and most secure backup method. Read more about backup strategies here.
4. Assess staff and migration tool
Data migration can be a big job, especially if you’re moving a large number of files, the migration is complex, or you’re migrating sensitive information. Refer back to the size and scope of the project and use this information to determine:
1. If your team has the knowledge and skills necessary to accomplish the project, or if you will need to consult an outside expert
2. If your team has the time and resources available to tackle the project in your designated time frame,
3. Who you could bring on to help you accomplish the project. If you’ve determined you will be using a data migration software, reassess its features and flexibility to ensure it will meet the requirements you need to accomplish the migration.
5. Execution of the data migration plan
With your plans to guide you, ensure the right system permissions are applied to allow for successful data migration and extract all data migrating to the target, from source system. Ensure this data is cleaned to protect target system, then transform it into the proper format for transfer. Finally, load your cleaned and deduplicated data into your target system data migration rules and map you’ve already laid out. Closely monitor your data migration during the process, so that you can identify and resolve any problems that arise.
6. Testing of final system
Once the migration is complete, ensure there are no connectivity problems with source and target systems. The goal is to ensure all data migrated is correct, secure, and in the proper location. To verify this, conduct unit, system, volume, web-based application and batch application tests.
7. Follow-up and maintenance of data migration plan
Even with testing, it’s always possible that an error was made during migration. To account for this, conduct a full audit of the system and data quality to ensure everything is correct once the data migration process has completed. If you notice errors, missing, incomplete, or corrupt data, restore these files from your backup.
By using the seven steps outlined above, you’ll be able to successfully move your data from source to target system. Just remember to backup all data before beginning your data migration. In the event an unforeseen problem occurs, you’ll be able to undo the damage and recover the important data your business relies on.