data migration
Iryna Kravchenko Iryna KravchenkoChief Editor

Data migration best practices to implement and challenges to overcome

The world of the early third millennium is the epoch of sweeping changes when nothing lasts for long. In the IT realm, the pace of transformations is even more rapid. So, technologies and approaches considered cutting-edge novelties just a couple of years ago swiftly become obsolete. They need to be replaced by innovations that are pushing the high-tech envelope. 

This is true for data platforms as well: their satisfactory functioning is quite short-lived. After a while, it transpires that the on-premises system’s capabilities to handle enhanced workloads and data sources are inadequate. Augmenting it with new functionalities makes them unwieldy and too costly to maintain. Whatever revamping you do, it turns out only a band-aid unable to counter the gradual deterioration of the technical condition of the system. Every failure the legacy data platform experiences makes it clear that data migration is imminent. 

If some ten years ago such procedures involved acquiring pricey equipment and infrastructure, taking care of its security, training personnel, and updating software migration of today spells embracing the cloud. Today, cloud computing offers the most serviceable, flexible, and cost-effective way of storing and operating large amounts of data aka enterprise data warehouse. Startups hydrate the cloud (as they call it) from inception. At the same time, older businesses have to engage the services of a data migration engineer and institute a data migration process to enjoy the benefits of the cloud.  

Keep reading to learn how to do data migration appropriately.

Reasons behind cloud data migration

What makes organizations migrate information? Typically, data migration activities accompany a larger transformation the venture undergoes. 

Realizing the necessity to transfer the historical data to a new system, storage, or format, the overwhelming majority of businesses today (up to 83%!) forsake the archaic on-premises data storage model and opt for cloud facilities. 

You might be interested in cloud migration strategy for enterprises. Check out our latest article!

The best approach for data migration: How to migrate data from the legacy system to the cloud?

There are three basic data migration approaches to choose from. 

The Big Bang method 

Any data migration consultant will tell you that the migration process is rather stressful. If you opt for the big bang model, you will be able to keep stress and frustrations to a minimum. Why so? Because the big bang migration is completed within a stipulated period (typically, during a weekend or official holidays). Such time windows are chosen since this approach requires the total downtime of the system while data is transferred to the new database. The old one is taken out of the operation for good.  

Being relatively quick and cheap, the big bang migration is subject to high risks of possible failures because of the short implementation period. But if performed by high-end data-migration vendors it can let your personnel start using the relocated database as soon as they come to the office on Monday, without the bother of synchronizing the employment of the old and the new system for some time. 

The Phased method 

Unlike the big bang strategy, this approach presupposes division of the data in the source system into small handy chunks. The latter are transferred to the target system module per module. The parallel functioning is limited to the increments being in the process in transition, which is a great bandwidth-saving technique that ensures unimpaired functioning of other elements of the system to boot. 

Naturally, this approach reduces risks and provides smooth migration but increases the time of transition and related expenditures. Moreover, for the phased migration a carefully thought-out plan is a must since you should know the dependencies between modules to prevent shutting down the whole system while the migration is underway. Yet, an undeniable asset of this approach favored in nigh on two-thirds of data migration projects is that it gives users an opportunity to take novelties in their stride by small volumes, which spells less adaptation stress.  

The Trickle method 

Also known as the parallel run approach, this strategy involves the simultaneous functioning of two systems, while data is being transferred from one platform to the other in real-time. The major advantages of the trickle method are the absence of downtime and the opportunity to meticulously check how the new system operates. The latter is a kind of a backup technique since you can always switch back (hopefully only temporarily) to the legacy database to eliminate issues within your new system in case they crop up. 

This approach has its shortcomings, though. It is more complicated in preparation and implementation than the other two (and consequently more protracted) because the parallel functioning of the old and the new system requires significant synchronization efforts and close supervision of what has been already transferred and what is still waiting for its turn. Such complexity of tasks tells negatively upon the cost of the venture.  

Which is the best way to migrate data? Being a seasoned player in the industry, we at DICEUS are sure that there is no one-size-fits-all approach. A plethora of factors is to be considered before you opt for this or that migration strategy.  

For startups or small-size organizations with a modest amount of data and a possibility of taking a complete break-in operation, the big bang method works best. The phased technique works well for moderate-size databases that have close to no interdependencies. In case you are a medium or large enterprise with a 24/7 lifecycle that can’t afford a total shutdown, the trickle approach would be the best choice. 

Whatever strategy you eventually opt for, you should be aware of data migration challenges that lay in wait for you. 

Data migration pitfalls to avoid

data migration challenges

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data migration challenges

Having completed quite a number of data migration projects, the experts of DICEUS consider it essential to pay attention to the following issues while implementing data migrations. 

Inadequate organization 

Any serious undertaking demands a thorough preparatory stage, and data migration isn’t an exception. In case it is handled improperly, the whole endeavor is doomed to defeat. If you fail to compile a complete roster of files, identify their location, determine resources and tools, gauge the time of implementation, etc., the procedure is sure to go wrong very soon. 

Solution. You can’t do without a detailed migration plan. The data migration checklist should include the project’s scope, goals, timeline, and specialists responsible for it. 

Potential data loss 

Anyone who experienced moving to a new place can come up with a story of how they couldn’t find some item or another when they unpacked. The same happens with relocating data. The problem looks even more serious if the company misses the loss after a long while when this data (by Murphy’s law it is sure to be some critical or sensitive information) is beyond recovery. 

Solution. Make backups the rule of thumb. Don’t transfer any single piece of data without the copy. And make sure you know where this copy is. 

Compatibility problems 

Shifting to new software can sometimes result in the loss of files’ accessibility – you just can’t read them any longer. In the worst case, the entire system may be rendered unusable to the consternation of the stakeholders. 

Solution. Operational requirements of both the old and the new system must be an inalienable part of the data migration plan. It will enable you to forestall possible compatibility issues and monitor the transition process to deal with possible problems. Only after you made sure all files and applications work properly in the new environment, the legacy system can be disabled.  

Miscalculations in hardware limitations  

You may underestimate the amount of data eligible for migration or overestimate the capacity of the target hardware, which will require urgent steps to let the new equipment accommodate all of your data.  

Solution. You should carefully study the basic characteristics of cloud facilities you are going to rent to make sure their capacity will suffice to host the data you plan to migrate. 

Lack of collaboration  

Typically, data migration is a team endeavor, involving a bunch of people with their own responsibilities in the project. To make matters worse, this team may sometimes include both in-house and external actors, participating from different locations. The disparity of purposes, responsibilities, and technologies is a huge impediment on the way to the successful completion of data transference. And if something goes wrong, people as often as not would resort to shifting the blame instead of trying to fix the problem.  

Solution. Keep all migration team members on the same page through a platform and collaborative tools that help avoid misunderstandings. 

Absence of testing 

Your data migration methodology seemed to have worked well, but when you kick the new system into action it’s a bummer. And you are at your wits’ end where the shoe pinches.  

Solution. Running tests to explore all possible use case scenarios before and during the migration procedure is a sine qua non. So, you can detect problems at an early stage and nip them in the bud before they accrue to give you a headache. 

Consider all of these fine points when you develop a data migration strategy. And the core of this strategy is a detailed data migration project plan. 

Developing a data migration plan: An algorithm to follow

An effective migration plan must include a series of data migration process steps. 

Step 1. Analysis of objectives and business goals 

You must clearly realize the reasons for migrating into the cloud and how your organization will benefit from it. Also, assess the time you can afford and the budget you are ready to allocate for the project. 

Step 2. Mapping out the migration plan 

Here you define the migration strategy, the scope of data, the tech stack (including data migration tools), the security measures to accompany the migration, the risk management policy, and the personnel that will tackle the task. 

Step 3. Choosing a cloud provider 

In accordance with the technical requirements, pricing policies, and other criteria, select the cloud service provider. If you opt for a public cloud, the odds are that you will choose one from the list of the most popular facilities offered by Google Cloud Platform, Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services, or IBM Cloud.  

Step 4. Taking stock of both systems 

By reviewing all pertinent documentation and available information, you should receive a clear vision of the nitty-gritty of the existing system and its operational requirements to realize how it can be aligned with the cloud environment you are going to move to. 

Step 5. Preparing the data for migration 

At this stage, you choose the order of components to transfer (paying close attention to interdependencies between them) and check whether they fit well with the cloud environment. If they aren’t cloud-friendly, the necessary refactoring should be undertaken. 

Step 6. Ensuring backup 

In case something goes wrong, you should have a backup of your current system to roll back at any stage of the migration procedure. 

Step 7. Let the exodus commence 

Start with some pilot data transfer to see how it works and test data operability in the new environment. Once the results meet expectations, proceed on a larger scale. Typically, the process follows the 5R sequence: rehost, refactor, revise, rebuild, replace. To facilitate the progress, you can use code bots that write code quicker than humans, thus enabling more iterations and granting a wider room for maneuver.  

Step 8. Testing the new system 

Nothing is over until you make sure the entire system works as expected. In case some issues arise, you have to deal with them as soon as possible. 

As you see, there are slews of major difficulties and minute details to take care of, which make the migration a no-nonsense venture. The only way to ensure a smooth, fast, and secure process is to entrust it to an experienced company that can provide top-notch data migration services at a reasonable price.  

DICEUS ticks all the boxes to successfully see through a data migration project of any complexity. We know this realm inside out to consult you on any related question. To save you time, here are concise answers to some FAQs on data migration. 


Why data migration is a neccessaty?

Old on-premises data repositories are increasingly falling behind the rapid pace of data accumulation and processing, so by hydrating the cloud you can drastically improve the efficiency of your workflow.

What is data migration in ERP? 

Implementing data migration in ERP has its peculiarities related to the integrated nature of this system, requirements for a single data source, the necessity of collaboration across multiple business domains, and the need for certain data modification.  

What are data migration tools? 

Data migration techniques and tools are special software that facilitates migration. The choice of the tool differs from case to case. Usually, it depends on the specifics of the project and the choice of the cloud provider. The most popular tools are AWS Data Migration, Azure DocumentDB, Apex Data Loader, Informix, DBConvert Studio, IRI NextForm, and Xplenty. 

How much does data migration cost? 

Data migration is never a bargain-price issue — on average, you should be ready to fork out a sum of around $250,000. Yet, there is no universal billing rate charged for a job of this kind. First of all, every project is unique. So, you have to consider a lot of factors that condition the end price. Secondly, the charges of data migration companies depend on their location. Vendors from Ukraine offer an excellent price/quality ratio of services. Contact us to get consulted on data migration strategies and best practices for free! 

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