1. Take inventory
Migrations are like a journey into the unknown. Our best recommendation is to first make sure that you know what you are taking with you on this journey. This helps plan better to avoid common pitfalls and issues.
Getting a good idea of what is being migrated can be tricky. You may have lots of data accumulated over years and it may not be stored in a nice and structured way. Audit and analyse what data and files you have and in what format. Getting an idea of sizes is a good starter to understand the scope of the project.
Also it is a good idea to identify any special cases, regulatory requirements, security exceptions and files which don’t fit the normal 80% use cases. Being aware of these would empower you into better planning for your migrations.
2. House Keeping
Migrations are like moving home. You pack your stuff and move it elsewhere. However this is also a perfect opportunity to do some house keeping. You may not need some of the data and files you have accumulated over years. Some may be a perfect case for archiving. Then there is the case of duplicates. Identifying duplicates can be tricky but can be worth the effort. If done correctly, you can save some money my reducing your storage needs for the migration.
The biggest challenge is to find the correct owners of the data and get some approval on things which are not needed. That is always tricky. Also your business will have changed shape over years as it has evolved and this may be a good time to restructure some of the data organization to better reflect the shape of the organization going forward.
Another common tip to do at this stage is to think about data classification. Are there any tags you can apply to your files as additional metadata? E.g. Proposals, Quotes, Research Papers, Marketing Materials etc. You can also review security at this stage and decide if you want to add additional security classification to your files e.g. Confidential, Internal, Public. This will tremendously impact the findability of your data via logical data filtering and search.
Once you are armed with what you are taking with you on your journey and have better selected and restructured your files, you need to then consider where you are going. You need to draw up a migration plan on how you plan to get to your destination. You also need to consider how do you handle any special cases identified and how are you going to transform the data into a new restructured system.
Effective planning is the key to a successful migration. Perform some tests to get an idea of your migration speeds, network and system speeds to realistically get an idea of a timescale. Also consider how much impact a migration will have on your peak time load and if migrations will have to be done off peak hours to provide the quality of service needed for the day to day business activities.
4. Communication Plan
You are not alone on this journey into the unknown. You are steering the ship, however the whole organization is along with you on this journey. This step is vital for better user adoption of the new system. Create a communication plan on how you can effectively manage this change and inform your organization about it. I have seen a lot of people ignore this, however we consider this a very vital step to better user adoption.
Drag and drop migrations are rarely a reality. Due to the sheer volume of data in any migration project, key success relies on using automation. Consider using tools to help you with the various phases and take a lot of the pain away.
Automate the inventory phase to get a good understanding of what you have. The more detailed data you can get, the better your house keeping and planning will be. Finding duplicates can be a lot easy with a suitable tool. Automate the actual migration effort. These specialized migration tools can handle a lot of common issues and smoothen the process of moving the data over. We strongly recommend to use specialist tools to ensure a quick and smooth migration.
Test as much as possible. It is not physically practical to test every item, however along with manual testing, utilise some automated testing tools if possible to validate the migrations as much as possible. We utilise a bespoke tool at Toolagen to add an additional layer of safety over manual testing. We cannot stress the importance of this phase more. This is a very vital phase as you don’t want to discover 6 months down the line that you are missing some data.
7. Cut over plan
Consider planning this very carefully. How do you plan to make the switch over to the live system. Are you going to go for a big bang migration or would gradual rollouts be good for you. How do you plan to synchronize the data, test it and get go live acceptance. Migrations are slow projects and can take days to complete. So having an effective cut over plan right from the start is really useful. This will ensure that you will have a relatively smooth transition instead of a bumpy ride.
Finally do not forget to celebrate when you have completed your migration, as you deserve it. Migrations are complicated projects and you deserve to pat yourself for steering the ship successfully across this journey.