Next Pathway //
May 19, 2020
Next Pathway //
June 3, 2020
Recently named by The Globe and Mail as Canada’s hottest cloud start-up company, Next Pathway automates the end-to-end challenges our customers experience when migrating applications to the cloud
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Data migration sounds like a
headache of an endeavor, but that’s just because it seems so monumental and
complicated. Fortunately, like most problems, its weight seems to dissipate if
you break it down into smaller parts through a solid plan.
We’ll look at what constitutes
a good data migration for an enterprise and see how to go about performing each
leg of this race. We’ll offer you some great advice to ensure the entire
process runs as seamlessly and error-free as possible. No migration is perfect,
but it’s definitely possible to have one that’s virtually painless.
The first (and arguably most
important) part of any data migration is solid planning. Data migration of any
size is a complex, highly-technical process with a lot of moving parts. If you
fail to account for the task, you’ll run into roadblocks along the way. At
worst, you’ll end up losing or miscategorising some data and you’ll have to
spend more money and time fixing the issue.
Any enterprise should put a
lot of work into their migration strategy. This can include finding the right
vendor for your transfer, vetting the vendor, and start aligning your IT and
business teams so everyone is prepared when the actual transfer comes about. Above
all, no one wants to be blindsided by something as big as this.
One thing to remember is
vendors don’t always handle every aspect of the data transfer process. A vendor
might just take care of moving the data and without necessarily organizing it
in ways to immediately benefit your company. This will likely be left up to
your IT team once the transfer is complete.
Don’t forget about alerting
any stakeholders connected to the data being migrated. They have a vested
interest and need to be made aware you’re moving critical data vital to your
You should also take the time
to tell your employees what to expect and how they should go about preparing
for the transfer. Those who use the pertinent data are often in the best
position to help you prepare it to move, so don’t neglect this resource.
This is all basically one step
because your data migration plan is going to depend on the type of data you’re
moving around, the data quality, and the amount. Obviously, smaller amounts of
data will require a different strategy than larger amounts. It could also
involve using a migration tool from one of the many third-party tools out
Therefore, it’s important you
take stock of what exactly is moving and make sure this list is as accurate as
humanly possible. Here are a few good questions to ask:
All of these are critical to
ask and have answers for, as they will directly impact the effort, you’ll need
to ensure a successful transfer.
What this usually entails is a
small team whose job it is to sift through every file you think you’re going to
move. Because this will take some time and may contain sensitive information,
you should choose this team wisely and not leave it up to random members of
your IT department. Pay a lot of attention to the redundancy question. If you
can get rid of a lot of junk or duplicate data, you’ll save yourself time and
money in the long run.
Data transfers are a great
time to do some cleaning of your servers and/or databases.
Once you have a plan of action
and have a detailed list of all the data you’re going to move, it’s time to get
ready for the big moment. You can make sure anything you have on paper is
appropriately digitized and readied for the transfer and at the same time get
rid of those paper files. This is less work for your enterprise in the future,
Start pre-processing all of
the data once it’s been collecting. This includes tasks such as compressing,
enhancing your metadata, changing it from one filetype to another (such as a
PDF), and so on. You might take this time, as well, to search for sensitive
information you can’t afford to become public and redact or otherwise encrypt
Once the vendor you’ve hired
or your IT team starts the transfer, your data is theoretically at its most
vulnerable. Don’t be the victim of a security breach. You should also make
certain employees of the enterprise aren’t taking advantage of this possibly chaotic
Most importantly, take your
time with this phase. There’s no real rush beyond your schedule, and if you
planned properly, you should have afforded your enterprise enough time to
complete all of the needed tasks with some time to spare.
Making mistakes during any
part of a data transfer is bad, but making them here—at the cusp of the actual
transfer—can lead to even worse problems as soon as you start the operation.
It’s finally time to start
transferring your enterprise’s data. This is going to be a time-consuming,
methodical process no matter how good your team or your hired vendor is at the
task. There’s no point in rushing it, so start by making sure all of your data
is going into the right places and organized exactly as planned.
By watching the extraction
process carefully during its opening stages, you can potentially catch problems
as they arise early in the process. This is far better than discovering you’ve
transferred half of your data into the wrong bucket!
In general, you’ll want to
watch the process until all major types of files have started moving from their
original location to their new location. In this way, you can see how each
phase of your plan is proceeding. If all goes well, you can spend some of the
time during the transfer doing other things to investigating other aspects of
the transfer process.
During the extraction phase,
you’ll want to make sure advanced or more complex data is being moved correctly
as well since these bits may be responsible for where data is organized at the
new location. Client names, supplies names, or invoice numbers are all
important to your enterprise and it would be a failure of monumental
significance if something went wrong with any or all of these.
If you hired a third-party
organization to transfer your data, it’s no problem at all to ask questions or
watch during the process. They are there to ensure your satisfaction, after
One thing to note is data
transfer is iterative. It’s not a “one and done” process where it starts one
minute and ends the next. Instead, as the transfer is proceeding, it’s up to
you to make sure everything is looking right at the destination location, as
well as to identify anything potentially
wrong with the original systems. This might involve visiting those servers
personally or computers connected to them.
By checking the information
coming into the destination, you can ensure the process is working according to
the plans you drew up earlier. This migration testing will also alert you if
you need to stop the process immediately and make adjustments.
Checking your data at this
juncture of the process will help you during the penultimate phase where you
need to export it to your enterprise’s actionable stations. Any time you have
left to catch or correct errors has to be found during the data migration testing
because once the data has been spread throughout your enterprise it will
propagate and be utilized. Once the cat is out of the bag, so to speak, it’s
too late to save the mouse.
Take your time and enlist
other pairs of eyes if you feel the need. You’re aiming for as error-free an
operation as you can get, and sometimes includes triple-checking incoming data
even if you’re almost sure everything is going well.
Assuming the data transfer
went as planned during migration and you didn’t identify any major errors required
recall or adjustment throughout the test, you can start exporting your data to
the other facets of your enterprise. This will likely be much quicker than the
actual data transfer process, in large part because at this stage you should be
basically sure all of your enterprise’s data is secure and correct.
As you export, all you need to
do is examine how it’s working within your enterprise’s functions. You can ask
employees or your IT team to check and confirm everything is in place, but
essentially, you just need to see if the entire machine works once it’s been
put back together again. In theory, if all the parts are there just the way
they were before you shouldn’t run into any trouble.
However, if there are some
discrepancies requiring explaining, it’s best to find them now while your
vendor is still on your premises. You can enlist their aid in finding out what
went wrong or for troubleshooting possible solutions. It’s also possible during
the transfer there were duplications or errors you didn’t anticipate; this is
often a face of life with complicated data transfers.
That being said, at this phase
of the transfer everything should be working smoothly and your enterprise
should be back on its feet. Now all left it to make sure the people who matter
know about it.
Your stakeholders should have
been informed of the impending data transfer during the initial stages of the
endeavor. If this was completed, they will no doubt be expecting an update.
It’s now your final task to inform them and anyone affected by the transfer,
including employees, everything either went successfully or there were some
issues and the timescale needs to be changed.
If the timeframe does need to
be adjusted, it’s important this information is disseminated quickly so everyone
can adjust their expectations, financial or otherwise. It’s also quite possible
any issues are minor in scale and can be handled without having to affect your
schedule at large.
Your enterprise’s employees,
too, will want to know if they can go back to work. This is your opportunity to
collect more feedback on the success of the transfer by having the people who
will use the data inform you of its authenticity or accuracy. All of this
should, in theory, be a relatively smooth time and you can likely finish your
contract with the vendor you hired to enact the transfer.
A good final thought to
consider after all is said and done is to take notes during this whole process
in the event your enterprise needs to transfer data in the near future. We live
in an evolving digital marketplace where the future is often uncertain. If you
remember the lessons you may have learned during this transfer, you can easily
apply them to future scenarios and potentially avoid the same pitfalls.
With this checklist in hand,
you have all the steps you need to go about a near-perfect data migration for
any enterprise. This is a universal checklist you can apply to virtually any
dataset or datatype and in large or small quantities.
The number one lesson to be
learned is simple: plan ahead and be methodical. This kind of operation isn’t a
sprint but a marathon, and accurate data is much better than jumbled. Remember
what we talked about here and your enterprise will be back on its legs with
organized data sooner than you think!
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