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What is Data migration? – Types, Plan, and More


Data migration is moving data from one location to another, from one format to another, or from one application to another. Typically, this results from introducing a new system or place for the data. The driver of change is often an application migration or consolidation in which legacy systems are replaced or augmented with new applications that will share the same set of data. Today, data migrations are often initiated as companies move from on-premises infrastructure and applications to cloud-based applications and storage to optimize or transform their business.

Why is Data Migration Considered Difficult and Risky?

The short answer is because of “data gravity.” Although the idea of data gravity has been around for a long time, the challenge is growing due to data migrations to cloud infrastructures. In short, data gravity is a metaphor that describes:

  • How data attracts other data as it grows
  • How data is integrated into a company
  • How information is personalize over time

To move applications and data to more favorable environments, Gartner recommends “untangling” data and applications to overcome data gravity. If companies spend some time early in the project to address data and application challenges, they can improve data management, enable application mobility, and improve data governance.

Types of Data Migration

Types of Data Migration

There are numerous business benefits to upgrading systems or expanding a data center to the cloud. For many companies, this is a very natural evolution. Companies using the cloud expect to be able to focus their staff on business priorities, drive top-line growth, increase agility, reduce capital expenditures, and also pay only for what they need on demand. However, the type of migration assumed will determine how much time IT staff can free to work on other projects.

First, let’s define the migration types:

Storage Migration

Moving data from existing arrays to more modern ones allows other systems to access them. It offers significantly faster performance and extra cost-effective scaling while enabling data management features such as cloning, snapshots, backup, and disaster recovery.

Cloud Migration

Moving data, applications, or other business basics from an on-premises data center to a cloud or moving them between clouds. In many cases, it also involves a storing migration.

Application Migration

The procedure of moving an application program from one environment to another. It can include moving the entire application from an on-premises hub to a cloud, moving between clouds, or simply moving the underlying application data to a new form of an application hosted by a software provider.

How to Plan a Data Migration?

Data migration involves three basic steps:

  • Extract The Data
  • Transform The Data
  • Load The Data

Moving essential or sensitive data and decommissioning legacy systems can make key decision-makers nervous. Of course, you need a solid plan, but you also don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Numerous examples of data migration plans and checklists can be found online. For example, Data Migration Pro, a civic of data migration experts, has a comprehensive list that outlines a 7-phase process:

  • Pre-Migration Planning. Evaluates the data to be move for stability purposes.
  • Project Initiation. Identify and keep key stakeholders informed.
  • Surrounding analysis. Establish a robust data superiority rules management process and keep stakeholders informed of project goals, including shutting down legacy systems.
  • Solution Design Determines what data is to be moved and the quality of the data before and after it is move.
  • Create and test. Code the migration logic and exam the migration in a mirror of the production environment.
  • Run and validate. It demonstrates that the migration has met the requirements and that the data that has been migrate is viable for business use.
  • Withdrawal and supervision. Shut down and dispose of old systems.

Top 10 Data Migration Challenges

Although data migration has been a reality in technology for decades, we continue to hear horror stories yearly. Below are the top 10 challenges companies encounter in moving data:

Failing to contact critical stakeholders

No matter the size of the migration, there is somebody somewhere who cares about the data that is being move. Contact them and explain the need for this project and its impact before continuing with the task. If you don’t, rest assured you’ll hear from them at some point, most likely to disrupt your deadlines.

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Lack of Communication With Those Responsible

Once you’ve explained the project to your key stakeholders, ensure they keep abreast of your progress. It’s best to offer a status report on the same day each week, especially if there are changes. Regular communication greatly facilitates the trust of the affected parties.

Lack of Data Governance

Make sure who has the right to create, approve, edit or delete data from the source system and also put it in writing as part of the project plan.

Lack of Experience

Although this is a simple task, there is a lot of complexity involve in moving data. Having an experienced professional with excellent references helps the process go smoothly.

Lack of Planning

On average, families spend 10-20 hours planning their vacation, while IT teams may pay as little as half that time planning a small data migration. Of course, hours of planning don’t always guarantee success, but having a solid data migration plan saves hours when it comes to moving data.

Insufficient Software and Data Preparation Skills

If it is a large migration (millions of records or tables), invest in good data quality software and consider hiring a specialized company to help you. The good news is that an outside company will probably rent you the software to help you save costs.

Expect Perfect Lens Specs

If the implementation team solves the design criteria, push on steps 2 and 3. Of course, preparing for the objective will matter to you later in the project, but that shouldn’t stop you now.

Untested Migration Methodology

Do research to ensure the data movement procedure has worked well for other companies like yours. Don’t be tempt to accept the generic approach offer by a provider.

Management of Suppliers and Projects

Vendors and projects must be manage. If you are still with your day job, make sure you have time to manage the project and any related vendors.

Dependencies Between Objects

With the technology and capabilities of data management tools available today, it is still surprising to discover a dependent data set that was not included in the original plan. Since dependencies between objects are often not found until very late in the migration process, make sure you have a contingency plan for them so that the delivery date is not affected.


For many reasons, your enterprise might be necessary to undertake a data migration project. For example, you might replace servers or storage devices or consolidate or decommission the data center. Data migration is also essential in migrating on-premises IT infrastructure to a cloud computing environment.

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