9 Data Migration Best Practices in 2024

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Written By Haisam Abdel Malak
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Understanding and implementing effective data migration best practices is essential to ensure a seamless transition of data from one system to another. Whether migrating to a new cloud infrastructure or consolidating databases, a well-executed data migration strategy can mitigate risks and enhance overall operational efficiency.

Implementing these guidelines coupled with adopting the best data migration tools will help you increase the success of the data migration process. Clear and comprehensive guidelines serve as a roadmap, outlining each step of the migration journey and ensuring that all stakeholders understand their roles and responsibilities.

As per Gartner, 83% of data migrations fail or exceed budgets and schedules. That being said, organizations will most probably encounter delays if not planned properly.

data migration best practices

The data migration best practices are:

#1- Thorough Planning

Before starting any migration initiative, it is imperative to engage in a comprehensive planning phase that involves defining clear and achievable objectives. This includes determining the scope, understanding the specific data sets that need to be transferred, and establishing realistic timelines.

A well-thought-out plan should anticipate potential challenges and risks that may arise during the migration, allowing for the development of effective mitigation procedures. To help you more, I recommend engaging key stakeholders at the earliest convenience possible to obtain their input and align with the specified goals.

#2- Define a Clear Vision

Before you kick start migrating data from one environment to another, you need to ensure to define a clear goal to follow. You need to consider the following questions:

What is the nature of the data? How much data are you moving? What are your backup and disaster recovery methods? Are there regulatory restrictions on movement of data from one country to another? How long does it take for a new environment to come online for testing, application documentation, training and other activities like this?

#3- Data Assessment and Cleanup

Before migrating data, it is essential to conduct a thorough assessment of the existing datasets to identify and understand their quality, relevance, and structure.

This lays the foundation for targeted cleanup efforts; wherein redundant or inaccurate data is identified and either rectified or removed. The goal is to ensure that only up to date and accurate information is migrated to the new system to minimize the risk of data discrepancies and improving the overall quality of the dataset.

#4- Create a Backup

Creating comprehensive backup and recovery is a fundamental component of data migration best practices, serving as a safeguard against potential risks and uncertainties inherent in the migration process.

Even with the most planning, you will most likely encounter unforeseen issues such as data corruption or system failures that will pause significant threats to the integrity of the migrated data.

A well-structured backup ensures that a copy of the data is securely stored before and during the migration to provide a fallback in case of any unexpected errors. This not only acts as an insurance policy against data loss but also facilitates a quick recovery to minimize downtime and potential disruptions to business operations.

#4- Incremental Migration

Incremental migration involves transferring data in smaller and manageable batches rather than attempting to move the entire dataset at once. This approach minimizes the potential for disruptions and allows organizations to identify and address issues in real-time.

By breaking down the migration into smaller increments, it becomes easier to isolate and rectify any unexpected issues that may arise during the process. This not only reduces the overall risk but also provides the flexibility to make adjustments based on real-time feedback.

#5- Use the Right Software

Migrating from one platform to another is not easy. It can be time-consuming, expensive or disrupt your business operations. The best way to avoid these problems is to use the right tools for migration.

They are designed to streamline and automate complex tasks associated with transferring vast datasets, offering features such as automated mapping, data validation, and real-time monitoring. it can also accommodate various data formats, databases, and platforms, providing a versatile solution for diverse migration needs.

#6- Testing and Validation

Migration is not a one-time event. It is a continuous process that has many stages and that, even when it is complete, may need to be revisited. The process will always be different based on the source data, the destination data and the range of tasks that need to be done.

During the first batch of data being migrated, try to analyze all the steps and see if the process is completed successfully or it needs to be modified before moving on to the next batch.

#7- Communication and Stakeholder Involvement

Involving key stakeholders from various departments ensures a comprehensive understanding of business requirements and objectives to enhance alignment throughout the migration journey.

Transparent and open communication channels facilitate the exchange of critical information, progress updates, and potential challenges, enabling stakeholders to make informed decisions.

#8- Training and Skill Development

Training and skill development are essential components of data migration best practices as they contribute significantly to the successful execution of the migration process.

The complexity of modern related technologies necessitates that the team responsible for the migration possesses the requisite knowledge and skills to navigate potential roadblocks effectively.

Providing comprehensive training ensures that team members are proficient in understanding data mapping and interpreting documentation accurately. This investment in skill development not only enhances the team’s efficiency but also reduces the likelihood of errors during the migration.

#9- Post-Migration Evaluation

Through a comprehensive evaluation, organizations can measure the accuracy of data migration, identify any residual issues, and assess the overall impact on system performance.

Post-migration evaluations also offer a platform for stakeholders to provide feedback to help in the future related initiatives. By conducting a thorough assessment after the migration is complete, organizations gain a clearer understanding of what worked well and what areas may require further attention.

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