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12 Tips to Create a Data Migration Strategy

An incident-free data migration process ultimately comes down to the strength of your data migration strategy and how ...


An incident-free data migration process ultimately comes down to the strength of your data migration strategy and how well you executed it. Creating a comprehensive data migration plan improves the likelihood of smooth sailing. So, what exactly is a data migration strategy? It covers the prepping, process, and costs associated with moving data from one medium or location to the other. It’s important to craft a plan that follows effective data migration strategies and best practices.

Here are 12 tips that will help you build the perfect data migration strategy..

1. Set Data Migration Goals

Nerdy scholastic young woman wearing geeky glasses standing thinking with her finger raised and a grimace of concentration in a humorous stereotypical depiction, over a dark background with copyspaceBefore moving your data to the cloud, it’s important to determine why you should. Of course, moving to the cloud modernizes the business and takes it into a new area of cloud computing and flexible work. However, what specific goals is your company trying to achieve with this move? Consider these examples for your data migration strategy:

  • Improve hybrid and remote work opportunities to expand operations without taking on more overhead costs.
  • Improve the customer experience by providing faster and more flexible service around the clock.
  • Improve accountability by better tracking who accesses files and when.
  • Automate tasks so employees can spend less time on monotonous activities and invest more time in creatively solving problems.

Once you have set your goals, let these drive your data migration plan.

2. Determine Compatibility

Migrating to the cloud affects more than just the data you intend to move. For example, how well will the Microsoft 365 system fit with your existing infrastructure? Are your current physical devices able to run the software you need? Will you need to give up some of the old software you used? Addressing these early in your data migration strategy reduces the possibility of surprises later on.

Fortunately, software companies are aware of data migration strategies and best practices, and are able to help. Microsoft, for example, shares detailed information about the specs required to run its operating system and apps, and pledges to make its OS accessible to most devices. In fact, it launched its Cloud PC, which makes it possible for hybrid workers to pick up where they left off in the Microsoft ecosystem across a wide range of platforms, including Mac and Linux.

3. Identify the Different Types of Data Migration You Will Need

Your data migration strategy may involve more than just Cloud migration. Consider all the different types and see which ones apply:

  • Database Migration: Databases organize data in a particular way, so this kind of data migration can be tricky. It primarily involves moving the data from one database management system to another. Compatibility is especially crucial here.
  • Application: When you migrate data to Microsoft 365, you might determine that it’s time to leave isolated apps behind and embrace the cohesive Microsoft ecosystem. This generally involves moving structured data.
  • Storage Migration: This involves data migration from one physical space to another. Companies tend to do this when they run out of physical space and need a data migration strategy to create more without losing the original data.
  • Data Center Migration: Instead of moving data across locations, you could decide to move the location altogether. Keep in mind that many companies with cloud computing capabilities still maintain physical data centers — often for backup. 
  • Cloud Migration: Migrate your data from a physical location to the cloud. This might involve migrating all your data, or just moving portions of it like your email or app data. Cloud data migration can also mean moving data from one cloud platform to another.
  • Business Process Migration: This addition to the data migration strategy generally only occurs during restructuring, mergers and acquisitions. In these instances, companies might migrate entire departments or fields to specific parts of the business as part of their optimization efforts.

4. Review the Potential Data Covered by the Migration Plan

Data migration software and companies often charge fees based on the total size of the data to be migrated. Consequently, you can save a lot of money by doing some housecleaning. Cleaning up the data also reduces the risk of duplicates. Starting the migration process with high-quality data is a crucial prepping point of the data migration strategy.

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5. Create Backups of the Data

Make sure your data migration plan includes backing up all of your data! It’s a good idea to back up the data before you start cleaning house. If you delete items by accident, you know where to recover them. Then, create a second backup once you complete the cleaning process. This provides peace of mind as well as insurance if anything goes wrong.

6. Prioritize Cybersecurity in Your Data Migration Strategy

Data security is one of the most crucial aspects to consider when creating your plan. It keeps hackers away from your data at one of the company’s most vulnerable moments. Experienced data migration vendors recommend encryption and using only secure connections for the migration. If you intend to maintain physical copies, you also need to safeguard these copies.

7. Provide Training

The best time to start training employees on the new system created by data migration is long before it happens. Training workers might seem costly and time-consuming to the data migration strategy, but it improves the learning curve and ensures continued productivity. Microsoft provides several tutorials and articles explaining the new system changes and what to expect across its app-based productivity platform.

8. Predict Potential Problems and Craft Solutions

One of the top reasons managers delay data migration is the potential for things to go wrong. Crafting a data migration strategy is the perfect time to put those fears to good use!

Write down all the things you believe might go wrong, then take the time to craft solutions for these problems.

Each problem should have at least two solutions. The first one should provide an option for preventing the problem. If this fails, the second solution should cover how to resolve the issue once created.

9. Determine the Best Time for Executing the Data Migration Strategy

Timing represents one of the most crucial elements of your data migration techniques and plan.

If your business only serves customers during regular business hours, then you might plan to complete data migration during the after-hours and weekends. In this case, you could use the “Big Bang” data migration strategy, which moves all the data over a specific period. 

If your business remains open around the clock or provides emergency services, take some time to determine when you have minimal interaction with customers. In this case, you might need to rely on a trickle data migration strategy to move the data across slowly. This complex system has two sets of data running parallel to each other until the migration is complete.

Note that employees often structure getting work done around slow periods so that customers do not disturb administrative tasks, such as balancing the books or managing payroll. Consequently, you need to liaise with workers to determine how it might affect work and what you might do to reduce the impact.

10. Create a Budget

A data migration strategy and process isn’t free, even though the cost-savings from reduced overheads and automated tasks alone can put money back into the pockets of your business. Considering the entire economic picture ensures you can plan carefully and avoid financial surprises:

  • Migration Fees: Whether you use data migration software or work with professional vendors, it requires the payment of fees. Ask for the full fee structure and work with the accounting team to iron out all the numbers. We have more information on this topic in this blog post.
  • Productivity Disruptions: If you run a 24/7 business and experience momentary disruptions, estimate the potential cost. This estimate accounts for the potential for lower sales during data migration.
  • Communication: Ideally, your data migration strategy includes communication to customers that you intend to complete some system upgrades and that they might experience momentary disruptions in service. Communicating this information might not cost a lot, but it’s worth adding to the budget. If you use one of the Cloudficient solutions, our ReMAD platform includes a workflow orchestration engine that can perform many additional data migration related tasks, including communicating to end-users.
  • Break-Even Point: You likely already estimated the cost benefits of migrating data to the cloud in the long term. Use this information to determine when you might break even on cost and start reaping a profitable return on investment.

11. Test and Validate Migrated Data

When you complete your data migration process, you must determine whether the migration worked as planned. This requires testing and validation. Be sure to include the process for this in your data migration strategy.

For example, will each employee log in to the system and check the data? Will one person complete testing and validation of specific sample sizes? Will you use data migration software? Establish this measure of success before you begin the migration process.

12. Decommission Old Systems

What is your plan for decommissioning the systems you no longer need? These might include old devices after an upgrade and physical storage devices you no longer use. Keep in mind that how you dispose of or repurpose these devices might present cybersecurity and compliance risks in the long run. Work closely with data security specialists to determine the best course of action, including data expiration.

Work With an Experienced Data Migration Vendor To Determine the Best Approach

Creating a comprehensive data migration strategy requires complex calculations and experience handling this task. Unfortunately, most business owners have neither the will nor the time to tackle this. Instead, you might have the budget to hire professionals who can craft an expert plan and get the process done right the first time. Intrigued? Get a quote from Cloudficient today.

With unmatched next generation migration technology, Cloudficient is revolutionizing the way businesses retire legacy systems and transform their organization into the cloud. Our business constantly remains focused on client needs and creating product offerings that match them. We provide affordable services that are scalable, fast and seamless.

If you would like to learn more about how to bring Cloudficiency to your migration project, visit our website, or contact us.

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