Cloud Data migration is the process of transferring data, services, and applications from one storage system to another, with the aim of improving accessibility, performance, and security. In more technical terms, it is the process of moving applications and data storage into the cloud. This migration could be partial or whole, based on the requirements.
The demand for cloud computing is on the rise as more and more organizations are moving from legacy and inefficient infrastructures to comply with current technologies and software. This trend has made cloud data migration a crucial aspect of digital transformation for businesses and organizations of all sizes.
Migrating to the cloud can have several benefits, including cost savings, increased scalability and agility, enhanced security, disaster recovery, and achieving the optimum utility of systems.
However, the process of cloud data migration is complex and requires proper analysis, planning and execution. Thus, it becomes important for businesses and organizations to adopt the right cloud data migration strategy and best practices to ensure a successful and efficient migration.
Cloud migration is not a one-step process. It is not about transferring data and taking rest. It is about continuously improving your system and applications so they can perform optimally in the cloud. It becomes important to follow key strategies and best practices.
Here are some of the key strategies and best practices for a successful cloud data migration:
Assess your current data
The first step in migrating to the cloud is to assess your current data infrastructure. This involves understanding the volume of data that needs to be migrated, the type of data being migrated, and the current state of the data.
This process involves cataloging your data which involves analyzing these questions about data, what you have, where it is, what is in current use, and how it needs to be protected
By conducting a thorough assessment of your data, you can identify any potential challenges and opportunities that may arise during the migration process.
Also read: Top 10 Cloud Migration Tools
Standardize and cleanse your data
This process is important as it will decide the overall efficiency of your data migration process. More engagement during this process means less work you’ll have to do to prepare your data for analysis in the cloud.
Choose the right cloud provider
It is one of the major steps for a successful cloud data migration. Every company or business has a different need. For example, the requirements of a Finance institute are different from a global transport company. Different cloud providers offer different services, so it’s vital to choose a provider that can meet your specific needs.
There are several factors that an organization needs to keep in mind when choosing a cloud provider. Some of the major factors are cost, security, scalability, and the provider’s ability to integrate with the existing infrastructure.
Develop a proper and detailed migration plan
Once you have assessed your data and chosen a cloud provider, the next step is to develop a detailed and comprehensive migration plan. The things that you need to consider in this step are the timeline for the migration, the steps involved in the migration, and the resources required to complete the migration. This also includes making a backup plan to ensure the reversal or steps that need to be taken if something unexpected happens while migration.
A proper plan ensures that your data migration process completes in a timely manner. It’s important to ensure that the migration plan is flexible and can be easily adjusted to acclimate changes that may arise during the migration process.
Use a phased approach
Though this is not a compulsory step. Most organizations and businesses use this approach. Migrating all of your data to the cloud in one go is a complex, risky, and expensive process. To minimize the risk, it’s recommended to use a phased approach, where data is migrated in sets. This approach permits you to test the migration process and make any necessary changes before migrating all of your data.
Test your data migration
Testing is a critical step in the cloud data migration process. This step ensures that the data or app migrated continues to perform as it should after. This step also ensures that the data migration expectations are met or not.
Several sub-processes are involved in this step:
- Define the testing strategy
- Identify the data to be migrated
- Define test scenarios
- Prepare test data
- Conduct data migration testing
- Validate test results
- Document test results
- Perform user acceptance testing
- Perform performance testing
Monitor and manage your data in the cloud
Once your data or app have been migrated to the cloud, it’s important to monitor and manage it to ensure that it works as expected. This includes monitoring data access, data security, and performance, and making any necessary changes to ensure that your data remains secure and accessible. It also involves continuously improving the system.
Train your staff
Training your staff on the new cloud infrastructure is necessary for a successful cloud data migration. This training should include the basics of the new cloud infrastructure, as well as how to access and manage data in the cloud.
Cloud data migration is a complex process that requires careful planning and execution. By following the strategies and best practices outlined above, you can ensure a successful migration and maximize the benefits of moving your data to the cloud. Whether you’re a small business or a large enterprise, cloud data migration is a critical aspect of digital transformation and should be approached with care and sincerity.
After going through key strategies, it’s time to look at the several technologies and tools available for cloud data migration. Each has its own set of advantages and limitations. Here are some of the most commonly used technologies for cloud data migration:
- Cloud-based data migration services: Many cloud providers offer their own data migration services. This allows businesses and organizations to move their data and apps from on-premises systems to the cloud. For example, Amazon Web Services (AWS) provides the AWS Database Migration Service, while Microsoft Azure offers the Azure Database Migration Service.
- Third-party migration tools: There are several third-party migration tools available that can help with data migration to the cloud. Some examples include CloudEndure, Attunity, and Striim.
- Database replication: This is the oldest and most basic technique used for data migration. It involves copying data from a source database to a target database in real-time. This can be useful for migrating data to the cloud without causing any downtime for users. Popular replication tools include Oracle GoldenGate and AWS Database Migration Service.
- Extract, Transform, Load (ETL) tools: ETL tools can be used to extract data from one system, transform it into the format required by the target system, and then load it into the target system. Popular ETL tools include Talend and Informatica.
- API-based data migration: Some cloud services provide APIs that allow developers to move data to and from the cloud. For example, the AWS Command Line Interface (CLI) allows users to transfer data to and from Amazon S3 buckets using command-line scripts.
- File transfer tools: Some organizations prefer to transfer data to the cloud using file transfer tools, such as FTP or SFTP. This is a very basic and useful solution for smaller data sets. File transfer tools are often included in migration tools or services.
The choice of technology for cloud data migration depends on various factors such as the size and type of data, network bandwidth, security, and cost.
One of the most commonly used technologies used these days for cloud migration is APIs provided by cloud providers. These APIs automate the cloud migration process end-to-end. Let’s have a look at how it is done:
- Understand the source and target systems: The first step is to understand the source and target systems and the APIs that are available for data migration. This step is important to ensure that both systems are compatible with APIs.
- Plan the data migration: As we discussed above this is an important step. This involves planning the data that needs to be migrated, the data structures, and the API endpoints that will be used to transfer the data. Create a migration plan that includes details such as API authentication, error handling, and logging.
- Develop the migration script: This involves developing the migration script that will be used to transfer the data using the APIs. A good script should be accurate and should handle errors and exceptions that may occur during the migration process.
- Test the migration script: Test the migration script using a small set of test data to ensure that it works as expected.
- Deploy the migration script: Once the migration script has been tested and verified, deploy it to the production environment. Monitor the migration process to ensure that the data is being migrated successfully and handle any issue that occurs.
- Verify the migrated data: After the migration is complete, verify the migrated data to ensure that it is accurate and complete. This may involve comparing the migrated data with the source data to ensure that there are no disparities.
- Monitor the performance: Monitor the performance of the migrated data in the target system to ensure that there are no performance issues or bottlenecks. This may involve monitoring the data transfer speed, data retrieval speed, and system utilization.
- Document the migration process: Document the migration process, including the migration plan, migration script, and any issues or errors that were encountered during the migration process. This will help the team which maintains the system after migration.
Some examples of cloud providers that provide APIs and command line tools for data transfer include Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform (GCP).
In 2018, Verizon Communications Inc. (Verizon), the largest mobile carrier in the US and a leading telecom company, selected Amazon Web Services (AWS) as its preferred public cloud provider. It migrated over 1,000 business-critical applications and database backend systems to AWS.
Written and curated by: Parveen K Tomar, Adobe AEM Architect, USA. You can follow him on LinkedIn