Data is the lifeline of your business. Thus, preserving its integrity, security, and privacy ought to be the main agenda of all businesses out there. In your day-to-day operational flow, where processes are established, and all the interdependent entities synchronized, data traverses deftly through the various annals of your organization, hence preventing you from being constantly on high alert. The alarm bells need to be sounded and paid heed to in situations when data is its most vulnerable; data migration is one such event.
Shifting systems, revamping current databases, or introducing new additions to your existing apparatus- whatever the scenario, data migration is an occurrence that every company has to contend with at one point or another. In the realm of email marketing, businesses are confronted with it while migrating ESPs (email service providers). From exporting all relevant assets from the previous system to loading them flawlessly in the new one, all the while defining workflows to ensure the ensuing downtime doesn’t bring operations to a standstill, migration is a pretty complex and intricate process.
But, as daunting as it may sound, there’s no summit that can’t be scaled with a solid strategy and sound implementation of the same. And that’s precisely what we are going to help you out with today. To make certain that your data migration journey is as friction-free as possible, we will talk in detail about some relevant techniques in this blog. Eager to find out what they are? Keep reading, then!
The Need for a Bulletproof Data Migration Strategy
Before we delve into the nuances of devising a migration strategy, it’s only fair we wrapped our heads around the significance of crafting one, right? Let’s check out.
- Allows you to take full stock of existing data: Before migrating to a new ESP, it is important that you thoroughly assess your current databases to identify which portions need to be a part of your new setup and which are dispensable.
- Gives you a clear idea about your data quality: Over a period of time, even data undergoes wear and tear, sometimes even to the point where it becomes absolutely inaccurate and unreliable. And transferring this flawed data to the new system is completely off the table, you’d agree? Hence, when you assess your data as part of your migration strategy, you make yourself privy to its merit and quality in the process, subsequently making informed decisions beneficial to your business. Every agency dabbling in ESP migration services will ask you to do so without fail.
- Enables you to keep data security issues at bay: A carefully chalked-out data migration strategy would have taken into account data privacy frameworks such as GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) and CCPA (California Consumer Privacy Act), thereby ensuring that the data is not mishandled during migration. Not to mention, this also allows you to steer clear of legal complications (which can get excruciatingly unending, to say the very least).
- Helps you ascertain the migration strategy that best suits your business: There are two kinds of data migration strategies:
- Big Bang Migration: In this approach, the entire database is transferred at once. Understandably, then, the big bang route invites considerable downtime, which is why companies employing this strategy usually prefer to do it during the weekends. Alternatively, a dedicated scheduled downtime period is announced for the same. Since it is the quickest way of completing the migration, this approach has several supporters. However, naysayers aren’t scarce either. The large downtime is an obvious issue; not all organizations can afford it, to begin with. It entails incredible risk, too- any inadvertent misstep can jeopardize all your data.
- Trickle Migration: As the name somewhat suggests, the trickle migration process involves transferring your data in phases. As a result, there is less stress on all the departments involved, allowing everyone to exercise greater control over the process. Quality control is easier to achieve since the governance, mirroring the migration, also happens in phases. Should any phase run into a roadblock, only that phase needs to be rebooted again and not the entire operation. Because both the old and new systems run in parallel in this method, there is essentially no downtime involved. The flipside of trickle migration is that it can be extremely time-consuming, and hence, if you are running on a tight schedule, you might find yourself hard-pressed to take this route.
As you can see for yourself, both approaches come with their own pros and cons, so before choosing one, you must evaluate whether it aligns with your business’ style of operation or not.
Data Migration Best Practices to Help You Iron Out All Wrinkles
Wise, now that we are, to the importance of setting up a robust data migration strategy, let us understand what all comprises the ingredients of a winning one.
Ask The Right Questions
- What goals are you looking to accomplish by migrating systems?
- The involvement of which departments (or leads) are totally non-negotiable in the process?
- By when do you want to complete the migration? (Advisable to set both an aspirational as well as a pragmatic deadline, to manage expectations better)
- How much budget can you allocate to the process?
You get the drift, surely? Identify the facets lying at the core of your migration process and seek to address any and all uncertainties or inconsistencies that may cloud them. Doing so will empower you to generate a strategy that covers all bases (especially the ones that matter the most) and one that can effectively take on any curve balls thrown its way.
Examine Your Current Database
And do so with a lens as flexible as possible. The terrain of your new system will obviously differ vastly from that of the one you have at present. Migration, therefore, merely doesn’t involve shifting your data headlong from one site to another; making certain that your data maps accurately to the architecture of the new system is also a pressing responsibility.
Yes, you have probably caught on to the idea we are trying to put forth here- not every kernel of data needs to be migrated religiously. As with every other organization out there, we are sure that not all of your data occupies the same hierarchy, right? So, as you go about your assessment, make it a point to escort the upper-echelon bits to one side safely- these should not be tampered with at all, or you risk bringing your operations to an abrupt halt.
Next, as you proceed to the secondary and tertiary levels, don’t be afraid of bearing a strict chisel; you are allowed to trim or restructure anything you feel wouldn’t add value to your new system (not in its present form, at least).
This step is crucial, for it will help identify data redundancies and inaccuracies, enabling you to address them at the earliest before you move on to ply your trade with your new apparatus. Goes without saying, if you have been truthful with your database assessment, nothing can get in the way of you tapping into the full potential of your new system.
Establish Transparent Channels of Communication With Every Department
Your IT team is the one that will migrate your data as you switch systems, so it’s only natural if you feel like confining all migration-related communications to them. Well, this is one of those cases where you stand to benefit by betraying your natural instinct. The key to achieving a seamless transition lies in clear, transparent communication; communication that involves every single department comprising your organization, and not just the good, hard-working IT folks.
The ramifications of migrating systems will be felt by each and every cog of your business; never lose sight of this. Therefore, it is vital to keep everyone in the loop with respect to every single development of the data migration process. In fact, there is no explicit need to ask the IT department to shoulder this act single-handedly, to begin with. Sure, they will preside over the technical component of the operation, but when it comes to devising your strategy, you’d do well to fetch inputs from everyone concerned. This collaborative approach will ultimately help you have a robust plan of action at your disposal, allowing you to wrap up the process with minimal interruptions.
Backup, Backup, Backup
Without fail. Even if you feel doubly sure about your controllables, it is always wise to account for the uncontrollables. Before commencing the migration, thus, backup your source data, so even if something happens to go awry during the migration process, you wouldn’t be left grasping at thin air. Backing up your data becomes all the more important if you are implementing the big bang approach.
On a related note, try avoiding effecting any upgrades to your current system during the migration process. If at all there are some vital upgrades that need to be implemented, they should be taken care of before the migration itself.
Audit and Test
Migrating all your data to your new system is a major chunk of the work done, agreed, but it is by no means the finishing line. After the migration is complete, you must audit the data to eliminate any and all redundancies and inconsistencies. Additionally, since you will be operating in a new environment now, it is crucial that you routinely test the operational flow of the new system to make sure that everything is on track, at all times.
Wrapping It Up
Data migration is an uphill task; there’s no denying that. However, you can easily navigate all its challenges by preparing a strategy that exemplifies discipline, precision, and attention to detail. We hope the insights shared above will help you in that endeavor.