Mitigating The Risk Of Migrating Data, Whatever The Reason For The Move

By Amit Singh, Solution Architect at AlphaCodes

Data migration is part and parcel of any IT deployment. Whether businesses are upgrading infrastructure, implementing a new application or making the move to the cloud, data frequently needs to be moved from one place to another. Given the value of data in today’s digital economy, this can be fraught with risk. The right approach, and the right partner, are crucial in mitigating this risk, minimising downtime, and ensuring data is successfully migrated, essential in ensuring ongoing productivity and business continuity.

Common, but risky

Data migration is a fairly common activity. Upgrades to IT infrastructure and applications, or the implementation of new solutions, replacing infrastructure, and moving to new environments such as the cloud, all involve an element of data migration. It is an unavoidable part of digital transformation, which in itself is essential to remaining competitive in the current and future world.

However, data is invaluable, and therein lies the risk of data migration. If anything happens to the data during the move, and the business cannot access it or recover it, then it will be unable to function effectively. Mitigating the risk to data during a migration is vital.

Risk and mitigation

Data complexity is one common issue. Every database has its own format, and there may be compatibility issues between the source data and the end environment, particularly if a legacy storage format is being used. There could potentially be compatibility issues with hardware and database volumes, as well as the formatting of database data. It is essential to understand the data format of the source data and based on this, to plan the migration path and the destination database for compatibility.

Operational complications or disorganisation during a database migration can also cause issues around inconsistency and lack of management strategy. When it comes to data migrations, enterprises need to prepare with detailed analysis and planning, before starting the process. It is vital to define the strategy, perform an analysis of data, and put a proper plan into place with timelines, resource availability, migration tools and potential risk.

There is also always the risk of data corruption or loss with any migration. Before performing any migration activity, data must be backed up completely, and importantly the backup needs to be verified, to ensure that recovery is possible should something go wrong. This includes having a strategy in place to deal with load shedding and power outages, as any loss of power will inevitably affect a data migration. 

Tools, technology, partnerships

Database migration software is available to reduce complexity, enhance security and meet compliance objectives. Features include source data profiling, as well as data quality features like standardisation and data merging. However, the data migration landscape remains complex and challenging, even with the right tools in place.

A specialist technology partner helps to bridge that gap with knowledge and experience of data migrations. They are able to assist by guiding customers in planning and assessments, identifying potential risks and designing strategies to minimise these. Data migration is not something businesses can afford to get wrong, so finding the right partner is important.

Avoid the risk

Data is the fuel for enterprises in the digital era, and data migration is unavoidable. However, it is also complex, risky and expensive, and often disrupted by challenges. To avoid these challenges and risks, there are three key elements. Firstly, detailed planning and analysis of all elements, including technical, resourcing and skills transfer, is absolutely required. Secondly, data quality needs to be proactively addressed, as this is key to successful; data migration. Finally, technology-enabled execution is a precursor to success. Having the right technology, tools and partner is the only way to effectively mitigate all of the risks involved with data migration, whatever the reason for the move.

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