Developing a Comprehensive Data Migration Strategy

Many organizations are working on a cloud data migration strategy. The problem is just working on a cloud migration strategy is too narrow and shortsighted. The cloud is not a single destination. There are multiple cloud providers and it is becoming clear that each is developing unique capabilities. In addition, for most organizations, the on-premises data center still plays a crucial role in organizational operations. A cloud data migration strategy implies a one-way path to a single cloud, but in a comprehensive strategy, data can move from the on-premises data center to multiple cloud providers and then back on-premises.

What is Migration?

Migration, be it to the cloud or another on-premises operating environment, requires several steps. First, it is necessary to physically move data. In most cases, it also means that it is necessary to continuously update data between the source and target until the cutover to the target environment is complete. Depending on the size of data, that movement of data to the secondary site may require an intermediary system to move the data physically between the two locations. Second, once data is in-place, it is necessary to start the application on the target system. However, before that start can occur, it is necessary to transform the system to work in that new environment, accounting for changes in hypervisors and drivers. Third, once the application is up and running in the new environment, IT may decide to keep the on-premises copy updated so the original data center can act as a DR site to the new site or in case the new site proves unsuitable for the applications.

Migration is more than just data replication. Replication simply copies data from point A to point B. A migration solution not only copies data from point A to point B but it also makes the necessary transformations to the data prior to its use in the new environment thereby ensuring compatibility with the new environment.

The Problem with a Cloud Migration Strategy

When enterprises focus on creating a cloud migration strategy they typically focus on just one cloud provider. The goal is to move some or all of the organization’s applications to that cloud provider. This approach has several shortcomings. First, it typically views cloud migration as a one-way street. Data is sent to the cloud, never again to return. Almost every enterprise that has gone through the process of migrating applications to the cloud has seen certain applications not perform well in the cloud. This forces them to move the applications back on-premises. In addition, the organization may decide that Cloud Vendor B is better at a certain service, or is cheaper and may want to move the application to Vendor B.

The typical cloud migration strategy not only leaves out the potential for multiple cloud providers and the potential for a cloud de-migration, it also leaves out the internal migration of data and applications between on-premises operating environments. For example, what if the customer has selected a new hyperconverged vendor and that vendor has leveraged a hypervisor other than VMware? Moving data to that new environment can be challenging to say the least.

 The Need for a Comprehensive Migration Strategy

Organizations need to stop looking at migration as a onetime event that they have to put up with every few years and realize that migration is a continuous part of IT workflows. IT is constantly moving data between storage systems, operating environments and cloud providers. The movement of applications and data is no longer a onetime event. A full time migration solution can leverage cloud transfer appliances to make sure the bulk of the data arrives at the cloud provider quickly. It can also synchronize data so that the data changed while the cloud appliance was in transit is re-synced with the cloud provider. It can leverage similar capabilities to ensure updating of the on-premises copy. It can also transfer data between different environments within the data center. Lastly, it can copy data and applications between cloud providers, again performing the needed transformation between providers.

To learn more about creating a comprehensive data migration strategy join us for our on demand webinar “Enterprise Cloud Migration – 4 Challenges to Resolve” where we discuss how to overcome the problems with bandwidth, how to not make each migration job a manual nightmare and how to keep multiple cloud and multiple sites in-sync.

Watch On Demand

Twelve years ago George Crump founded Storage Switzerland with one simple goal; to educate IT professionals about all aspects of data center storage. He is the primary contributor to Storage Switzerland and is a heavily sought after public speaker. With over 25 years of experience designing storage solutions for data centers across the US, he has seen the birth of such technologies as RAID, NAS and SAN, Virtualization, Cloud and Enterprise Flash. Prior to founding Storage Switzerland he was CTO at one of the nation's largest storage integrators where he was in charge of technology testing, integration and product selection.

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