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Best Practices: Tackling data migration

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Successful data migration projects require as much planning as doing. Use this checklist to make sure you have all the bases covered.


Data centers are active places with no shortage of large-scale projects: the merging of multiple sites, green IT initiatives, virtualization projects, server consolidation and the perpetual cycle of technology refreshes. A common thread throughout all of these endeavors is the migration of data. From a storage management perspective, data migration has traditionally been treated as an exception to normal operations. Data migration also seems to coincide with unforeseen difficulties that lead to extended downtime and the need to scrub, roll back and reschedule the activity.

In larger environments, data migration is no longer an occasional disruption but a regular activity that consumes an increasing number of staff hours. As with seemingly everything else related to infrastructure, there are many technology options from which to choose. Selecting the right approach is highly dependent on infrastructure limitations, data and platforms types, time constraints and staff capabilities.

Given this rise in migration activities, as well as the critical and often highly visible business impact of failed migrations, it's time to adopt consistent, repeatable migration practices to support various data center initiatives. But various requirements

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within a dynamic multifaceted environment may sometimes conflict with one another. Given this reality, how does one begin to develop a standard migration methodology?

Practice makes (nearly) perfect
The migration methodology should address the planning, pre-migration, migration and post-migration phases and include (or reference) detailed information within each phase, such as flowcharts and procedural documents. The degree of specificity within these documents should be high and include platform-/OS-/network-/SAN- and storage- specific tasks. Detailed guidelines should be included for verification and validation at each level.

This was first published in November 2007

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