Data Migration Best Practices - Post Two of Two

Posted by Mark Teter, Chief Technology Officer
April 21, 2011

In our last blog post on data migration solutions and best practices, we discussed how common it is for problems to arise when performing a data migration and the implications of a botched migration. We also touched on the first two (of five) best practices for data migration: Understand, select, and locate the data to migrate and extract, clean and transform the data. In this blog, we’ll cover the next three best practices designed to help you migrate data smoothly.

3. Move Data Systematically

Once you’ve determined how to transform your data, you begin the largely manual process of actually transforming it. Quite often various people perform data migrations ad hoc, taking various approaches at various times. It’s best to establish and enforce policies for migrating data. You might want to restrict data migrations to overnight hours when network usage is low so it doesn’t interfere with regular business operations, as example. Automated tools are available that can also help confirm a consistent process.

Although it may seem obvious, you should also try to avoid irreversible transformations, and definitely store a backup copy of the original data. If the migration doesn’t work, for some reason, you’ll want the ability to undo mistakes.

4. Test and Validate

Migrating data over the network itself can result in errors. For this reason, we recommend that you check and test the migrated data to verify that it’s an accurate representation of the original data, and is in the expected format. In their rush to complete a data migration, organizations often skip this step. But without testing and validating the migrated data, you can’t be confident of its integrity. Ultimately, you want to be prepared for the most rigorous test available—user acceptance testing.

5. Audit and Document

Once you’ve ensured the integrity of your data, you’ll need to prove it. In this age of compliance mandates, you should document what you did at each stage of the migration process.  Then you should create and preserve a clear, traceable audit trail of who did what to which data and when. In effect, you want to document what you did and preserve the evidence that you did it.

While you may not migrate data often, considering the increasing value and importance of data to organizations, it’s worth doing right the first time. By implementing these simple best practices, you can dramatically reduce the likelihood of data migration failure. At the same time, you can help your company become more responsive and avoid compliance problems. The best outcome from a data migration that goes well, however, is solid data integrity!

We’d love to hear your data migration stories or best practices, so leave a comment in the field below.

About Mark Teter Before he retired from ASG in 2013, Mark Teter was Chief Technology Officer (CTO) and the author of 'Paradigm Shift: Seven Keys of Highly successful Linux and Open Source Adoptions.' As CTO, Mark regularly advised IT organizations, vendors, and government agencies, and he frequently conducted seminars and training programs.

Filed Under: Data

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