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Whether buying a new server, new cloud storage, a new computer, or a new software program, you’ll want to think carefully about what information will move over to the new system.

The default is to just “keep everything,” but that’s usually a mistake. Just like when you move to a new office or house, moving systems creates a natural opportunity to purge items that are no longer useful to your business. To avoid cluttering up a new system with outdated information, we help clients develop a data migration strategy.

What is Data Migration?

Data migration is the process of moving data from one system to another. That could mean a data storage location, a database or an application. You will undergo a data migration anytime you:

  • Replace an existing application
  • Buy new computer hardware
  • Move to the cloud
  • Bring data into a new database or data warehouse
  • Build a new business process

The ETL Process

Data migration is a one-time process that moves data from one system to another. It doesn’t matter where the data is housed – on premises or in the cloud. The transfer of data can be as simple as export-import – or significantly more complex. If the records in system A and system B have different fields or a different schema, the data must be manipulated before it can be brought into the new system.

ETL stands for extracting, transforming and loading. In the ETL process, the data is first extracted from the old system, then it is transformed (either manually or with a software program) so that it fits the format of the new application or database. Then the final step is to load it into the new system.

data migration for small business

 

 

Types of Data Migrations and Their Challenges

Data migration processes happen on three levels – storage, database and application.

Storage migration

When you do a technology refresh, this is the time to identify obsolete data to reduce storage space and make it easier to quickly find what you’re looking for. We use a variety of storage migration tools to make this process fast and simple. However, what we can’t do is tell you what’s important to keep and what can be discarded. You have to decide that. We’ll ask you questions like:   

  • How many documents do you have with names like brochure-final4.docx? Do you need to keep the prior versions for any reason?  
  • Why you have the same content in more than one location? Is it for cloud backup? Or are you working around security settings in your systems to make the content available to different audiences?   
  • What is this obsolete content costing you? For example, video files take up a significant amount of space. While storage is relatively cheap, employee time is not. When you add up time spent dealing with system performance issues, organizing clutter, and looking for the right content, the overhead costs can become significant.  

Database migration

A database migration occurs whenever you change database vendors, upgrade the database software, or move a database to the cloud. In a database migration, IT professionals look for compatibility issues. Is there enough storage? Will performance be impacted? How do we protect records that require privacy or security? Are there integration points that can fail? Often, a database migration or upgrade is done in a testing environment before being moved to production.  

Application migration

An application migration is the most complex type of migration. The challenge is that each application has its own data model, so the data may have to be significantly manipulated before being brought into the new application.  

You want to think about the ramifications of keeping – or discarding – old records and historical data. For example, in an accounting system, you can start with an account opening balance or you can import every transaction. In a CRM system, you may want to purge anyone you haven’t talked to in a year. We help clients figure out the best application migration strategy for their situation.  

  • Will you have to keep the old system running in parallel – just in case? Could you transfer the data to a spreadsheet instead? Do you have compliance requirements you must adhere to? 
  • What is the value of that data? A company that sells SAT preparation tests to high schoolers has a finite time period to sell their solution. There’s no point in keeping a record of who was in high school 5 years ago. But a repair company may have a 5-10 year lifecycle between visits, and want to keep those records.  
  • How much does it cost to keep this data? Some applications, like email marketing software, charge by the record. Crossing from 4999 contacts to 5000 may cause the price to spike. If 2000 of those people haven’t opened your emails in 3 years, you’re better off deleting them in the move to a new application. 
  • Will system speed be impacted? How many users need to access that historical data or that legacy software feature? Can the old solution be retired? 

Data Migration Tools

The advantage of using IT professionals for your data migration is that we have access to a variety of tools to make the process faster and easier. If we can’t find a tool out of the box, we can sometimes build a script to make the ETL work easier. It depends on the scope and scale of the migration project, but in all cases, we look for ways to simplify and automate the process wherever possible.  

In many cases, the software vendor has tools we can leverage. Here’s one example of what Microsoft makes available for clients wanting to transfer hosting to the Azure platform: https://datamigration.microsoft.com/ 

Our Approach to the Migration Process

With the implementation of any new software, or development of any new database or application, we’ll discuss how to manage your legacy data and find an approach that best fits your business. In our planning, we’ll work with you to determine whether the data migration is a one-time data transfer process or requires ongoing data integration and management.  

We’ll look for ways to simplify your IT environment, seeing if we can consolidate databases, and make sure employees can access your systems from any device, especially when they’re not working on premises. In today’s environment, mobility and remote access is a requirement for any new system. That’s why many companies are moving to the cloud. 

Let us help you determine your application requirements and build streamlined business processes, so you have a solution that works for you now – and in the future.  Book a free exploratory session today!  

Why is data migration important?

Data migration is necessary when upgrading or consolidating your hardware storage or server. Data migration ensures that you don’t lose your data during the transition.

How long does data migration take?

Down time during data migration depends on the amount of data that is being transferred. Some migrations can take hours. Your IT professional can provide an estimate based on the scope of the project.

What is the ETL process?

ETL stands for Extract, Transform and Load. ETL plays a key role in the data migration process. It allows you to gather data from multiple sources and consolidate it into one location.

Is it hard to migrate data?

Data migration can use up a lot of labor if you don’t know what you’re doing. Hiring a professional will ensure a smooth migration.

Planning an office move soon? Don’t leave your technology moving requirements until the last minute.  In fact, the sooner you let your IT staff know about the move, the better.

1. Start Planning ASAP – and don’t forget to notify your IT Professionals! 

The sooner you get started planning, the smoother your transition will be. Let your IT Pros know as soon as possible. They will think of things most people never consider, like:

  • Type and location of cabling
  • How to protect equipment during the move
  • How to setup and protect your new server room (if you have one)
  • Ways to make the transition seamless to your customers
  • Physical and cyber security measures

2. Decide whether to stay open or close your doors during the transition.

A seamless transition is the goal. If you are going to close your office for the move, make sure to notify your customers. Let them know when you’ll be back and how to reach you during the transition.  If you decide to stay open, set up an offsite or remote location in advance. Whichever way you decide to go, planning ahead is going to help the most in the long run!

3. Inventory your current IT equipment.

Now is the time to take a look at every piece of IT equipment that needs to move along with you. All the big devices need to be unplugged and tagged with where they need to go (room number, desk number, room name, etc.) to make for an easier move. The smaller items that can go into bags are pieces like:

  • Cables
  • Power cords
  • Keyboards
  • Surge suppressors
  • Pointing devices
  • Any other odds and ends

Don’t forget to tie up and tag all bags, if it’s not tagged it won’t be moved!

Create an inventory sheet to help you keep track of all your IT equipment.

4. Decide what equipment to discard or donate.

After you’ve inventoried all the equipment, it’s time for some spring cleaning. Anything outdated or not used often, like old fax machines – toss. Slow or outdated computers? Eclipse can help you properly dispose of those electronics! If you are getting rid of computers, make sure to properly erase your hard drive before disposing or donating.

Some IT equipment can be leased and might need to be returned or renewed when moving locations. This is a great time to upgrade your electronics and hardware, so it’s ready when you move into the new office.

Are you still running Windows 7? Time for an upgrade! Several popular Microsoft products are going out-of-support in January 2020.

5. Decide what to upgrade or replace.

Replacing or upgrading your equipment all at once can be hard on cash flow. Create a budget for new hardware purchases, those that you need immediately and those you can plan for over the next three to five years.

Moving is a great time to think about migrating to the Cloud. Not only can you eliminate servers, but there are many other pros:

  • More secure and reliable than on-site servers
  • Virtual environment can get up and running faster
  • Lower total cost- only pay for what you need
  • Accessible for remote work

6. Consider your phone system.

Will you get a new phone number? Put plans in place to minimize call downtime. If you have an on-premise PBX system that you want to keep, plans need to be made to move the hardware. You may also decide that this is a great time to evaluate a cloud phone system, also known as a VOIP phone. The cloud system can easily be set up in both locations, ensuring that the lines are active during the move.

7. Get the new internet set up.

Internet service needs to be set up and working before you move in. Even if you are able to keep the same service provider, your static IP addresses may change. In this case, your firewall will need to be reconfigured at your new location. You also may need to update your DNS records to point to the new public IP address, and/or notify people who connect to your network of this change.

8. Protect your data!

Everything is already backed up, right? You have offsite storage, right? Have you tried restoring your data recently? This is the time to double and triple check the restoration process. Count this under “anything that can go wrong will!” This is the time to call in the IT Pros to ensures you’ve done this correctly. Missing a step (like not having a password) can make your restore process fail.

9. Develop a site plan.

Get in contact with your IT professionals when you begin the office layout process. We can save you major headaches later by advising you of the best ways to setup your new office with:

  • Cabling
  • Server room
    • Security
    • Climate control
    • Amount of space
    • Power supply
  • Camera Security Systems

10. Develop a moving day plan.

On the day of the move, everyone should know their role. If you already have your electronics bagged and tagged, the setup on the other side will be much easier. Walk through the day with your:

  • Movers
    • What goes
    • Where it goes
    • Time of move/how long to move
  • IT Pros
    • When to set up
    • Where to set up
    • What needs to be set up
  • Employees
    • On site vs. off site
    • Phone and email coverage
    • Personal responsibilities

Eclipse Consulting for New Office Setups

We can help you from the planning stages through to providing ongoing IT Support for your new office. Please reach out to our team to find out pricing and availability by calling us at 586.263.1775 or emailing us at info@eclipse-online.com.

 

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