IT and Business Insights for SMB Solution Providers

Taking a Smarter Approach to Data Migration

Avoid disruption or disaster with premigration assessment, planning, and management. By Mark Kirstein

IT’S SUNDAY NIGHT. You and your team have been working relentlessly all weekend to get a new IT platform ready for Monday morning so your customers’ users can both do their jobs and start reaping productivity benefits.

Then … whoops … uh-oh … something’s wrong.

It could be a critical data file that didn’t map correctly during migration, or user mailboxes may be missing from the new messaging data store, or any number of other problems. But the result is the same: Your migration project has just hit a snag—perhaps even a wall.

The voice in your head is screaming, “Why?” or even, “Why me?”

Assess, Plan, Manage

Every migration project has its own unique technical wrinkles that, no matter how small, can quickly derail plans. Fortunately, proper premigration planning can help you avoid downtime and blown deadlines.

In most cases, as BitTitan’s experience suggests, this kind of disruptive disaster happened because the source-data entities were in a poor state. Those performing the migration made assumptions that everything would just “cut right over.”

The simple fact, however, is that you must determine in advance that all data entities are properly configured for migration. By taking the necessary steps to set up the project correctly and completely, you help ensure the migration will be completed successfully and on time.

A migration also presents a valuable opportunity to address issues that have been an ongoing frustration:

  • Old data. Legacy systems typically house volumes of data that are seldom, if ever, used. Clean house now, because whatever data is in the system must be managed or indexed, which takes time. If your customer pays for cloud storage, this is a great time to archive data to local, low-cost storage or media. Migrate data older than 30 days before you reach the home stretch to reduce the scope of that critical prelaunch weekend project.
  • Version inconsistencies. Too many variables lead to a wide margin for error. Ensure that everyone is on the most updated version of everything—operating systems, applications, utilities, and drivers. Beyond assuring better operation, keeping everything current reduces support costs. Also, verify that all service packs and hot fixes are properly applied.
  • Policy inconsistencies. Records limited by policy, such as litigation hold, may never have been unlocked. It’s easy to mistake these for missing records during the migration process. Perform a complete inventory of all policy limitations and affected records so they’re appropriately monitored during migration, as well as what your expected outcomes are.
  • Hardware inadequacies. The platform you’re migrating to may have superior client-access requirements to your customer’s current platform, making some of the users’ devices inadequate to perform correctly. Users confronted with a faulty desktop, laptop, or other computer device always mistakenly blame the network. “Our network is slow,” or “There’s something wrong with the network” is not what you want to hear when you’re striving for enthusiastic adoption of the new environment. You can completely avoid this by ensuring that every client device complies with new requirements.

An Ounce of Prevention Is Worth a Ton of Cure

Put simply, you must begin a migration project with a complete and comprehensive inventory and assessment of everything in the environment that is being migrated. A well-known source and a well-known destination will both increase your assurance of an efficient migration.

A variety of tools and premigration assessments are available to ensure your team knows exactly what’s in store before pressing “go” on your next project. Effective planning offers a better chance at increasing end-user satisfaction, limiting support tickets from disruptions during the project, and ultimately, preserving your own margin. And in the end, it will save you headaches during the migration process.

MARK KIRSTEIN is vice president of products at BitTitan.

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