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  1. The devil is in the (software) details.

something as simple as different patch levels applied to software in the old and new environments can cause server crashes after a migration. Nadkarni says migrating among storage arrays also requires uninstalling the previous vendor's software from servers and installing the new vendor's. Not only does this require time, but it could cause instability if components left behind by the incomplete uninstall of older software conflict with other applications.

  1. Build in enough learning time.

if there's a common theme to these tips, it's that storage migration is complex and full of "gotchas" that can compromise application uptime, reliability or security. "The key to a successful data migration is not having any unknowns in your environment," says Nadkarni. "The more unknowns," he adds, "the bigger the risk." Storage administrators often underestimate the time

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required to learn their new storage environment and what it takes to migrate data to it successfully.

Besides the technical challenges involved in each data migration, it's also important to clearly understand the business objectives for the migration, says Terri McClure, an analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group in Milford, MA. For example, what's the ROI of the data migration? Is the aim to migrate seldom-used data to less expensive media to reduce disk and power costs, to decrease the data's RTO or both? If so, it may be possible to create automated storage policies to avoid an endless round of manual migrations, she says.

"To do anything successfully and seamlessly you have to do a lot of preparation, thorough preparation," says Future Electronics' Falsafi. "That means analysis, data gathering, trend analysis. For me, it's very vital you get this information and know exactly how your systems behave before you do anything. The cost of an unsuccessful data migration--interrupted business operations, and a loss of revenue and credibility--far outweighs the additional amount of time it may take to thoroughly understand your source or target environments."

This was first published in November 2008

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