Data migration – how to do it right!


Data migration is actually one of the fundamental business processes. It always happens when companies implement a new system or move data to a new location (e.g., cloud). Why is it so important? Gartner brand analysts give interesting estimates:

  • by the end of 2022, public cloud services will be necessary for as much as 90% of innovations in data analytics (Source)
  • by 2025, more than 50% of critical value data for enterprises will be created and processed outside the data center or the cloud (Source)

Data migration – basic information

We observe a very high demand for reliable data migration that preserves its security. Only on the surface, this process does not seem to be complicated. There are always three basic steps to consider:

  • extraction
  • transformation
  • loading

This is a basic scheme that allows you to properly prepare, combine and load data into a new database. Data migration often involves more complex processes such as mapping and reformatting data.

What forms may data migration take?

In practice, each data migration must be fully adapted to the needs of a specific company. The most popular types of migration concern:

  • data transfer to another storage or system
  • application migration
  • moving entire databases
Data migration - how to do it right!

Transferring data to another storage or system

It very often happens that the source data is saved in a format other than the standards adopted by the new system or storage. The first challenge is to standardize the data format. In practice, there are only two options for solving this situation:

  • employment of a team of specialists who will mechanically adjust the data and transfer it manually – in this situation we are dealing with generating considerable personnel costs from the very beginning. Additionally, human errors can occur and the whole thing will take quite a long time;
  • entrusting the data migration to a proven company, so that the specialists would establish a comprehensive migration plan and create dedicated software. All this to optimize the entire process as much as possible and ensure a comprehensive migration.

Storage migrations are relatively straightforward if you follow the right approach. A solid plan and experienced contractor minimize the risk of data loss. These issues are especially important when you are working with critical data for your organization. In this case, careful preparation for the data migration process allows you to properly plan any downtime and reduce the risk. Such a robust migration plan also allows you to secure deadlines and the budget itself. Full cost control is as important as data security.

App migrations

The process of migrating the entire application, e.g., to a new server / cloud, is much more complex. Moving the application involves the need to migrate many folders, databases and installation files. That is a lot of information. To improve these activities, you may need to create dedicated software. Sometimes it is enough to know which of the existing solutions on the market can work in a specific case. You should always look at each client’s case individually. There are at least several application migration patterns:

  • application rehosting – quite a common process. We are not making any significant changes to the app itself here. This is the quickest and most economical way. However, there is one “but”. It is possible that, without making basic changes, the application will not be able to use the full potential of the new environment;
  • application refactoring – in this case, the migration team introduces advanced changes to the application. Thanks to this, it can be easily scaled. Such an application will be adapted to function effectively in the new environment. When migrating to the cloud, you can very often see how the monolith is transformed into an application based on the microservices architecture. Equally often we are dealing with the modernization of data warehouses. Each of the examples listed is about specialized changes. Their implementation should be preceded by a thorough analysis and creation of a comprehensive plan of changes and the migration itself;
  • architecture/platform redesign – introducing only the necessary minor changes to the application. So that it could function efficiently on a new server / cloud. These types of changes relate to updating the application to work with a specific database or middleware.
Data migration - how to do it right!

There is no coincidence in application migration. All the steps taken must be well thought out and planned well in advance. When creating a strategy of such migration, attention should be paid to adjusting to the unique IT environment and compliance with the business needs of a given brand. The security and compliance of the data must not be forgotten. Before migrating your application, there are two simple questions to ask yourself:

  • why do I decide to migrate?
  •  what do I want to achieve with this?

The answers will allow you to choose the optimal path of action.

Database migrations

It happens that the entire database is migrated. In such cases, it is most often necessary to update the database engine to efficiently move the whole thing to a new place. The main difficulty here is the huge amount of data, often formatted differently than required by the specificity of the new environment. Undoubtedly, before starting the work, you should backup the database (because it is better to protect yourself in all possible ways against losing valuable information). There are many reasons for such a migration, for example:

  • new database functionalities allow for more effective implementation of business-critical functions
  • modernization of IT infrastructure and digitization of the enterprise (e.g., in accordance with the assumptions of Industry 4.0)
  • financial aspect – choosing a more cost-effective solution for the company
  • unifying the databases of all branches of the global brand
  • transfer of data to a central database

Is data migration safe?

In order to optimally protect data, companies create special, repeatable data processing and verification mechanisms. First of all, the completeness and consistency of the data is automatically checked. It is not enough to have or create dedicated software, you must know how to use it correctly. It is also important to constantly check the effectiveness and correctness of any introduced modifications.

Data migration software is based on a set of information on how to, step by step, transform your current database to new requirements. You can follow any changes you make. Every version, every initialized variable is checked. Thanks to such comprehensive supervision, it is possible to significantly improve the migration process itself, as well as ensure the security of all relevant information.

Energy sector – data processing examples

Working on concrete always allows you to understand the topics discussed in detail. That is why it is worth focusing on the energy sector and examples from our project activities. The challenges faced by the migration team are as different as the businesses that we find. The most important thing is to properly prepare the data structure for migration. Examples of data processing:

  • data storage – various file formats, no unified nomenclature
  • order acceptance format – in the old system, date and time are saved in one field as text, requirements for a new location: time and date in one, properly typed field with additional day, month and year as three separate fields, etc.

Data migration – do it wisely

We have emphasized many times that each migration order has its own specifics and individual challenges. However, there are rules that make this process much easier. What are we talking about? It is easy:

  • use the preparation phase to the maximum – plan the entire process well, create a step-by-step plan and follow it
  • take care of the source data – profile it before writing the scripts
  • trust the experts – data migration is only a seemingly straightforward process, decide on the help of specialists who will control the overload of information and skillfully take care of it
  • always create a backup – your data must stay safe all the time
  • take care of high standards – do not take the easy way, remember that effort always pays off – after all, you care about the protection of all critical data
  • take the opportunity – during data migration, you can accurately verify its quality and make the necessary optimizations. This is a great opportunity to ensure high standards of your data