Migrate data without mistakes


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The majority of data migrations occur when storage equipment comes off lease and is replaced with a new system. Problems migrating data from one array to another or from one filer to the next are compounded by the heterogeneity of the devices and, often, a lack of software to move the data in an organized, automated fashion.

Consider this scenario: Peter Fitch is the infrastructure manager at Rudolph Technologies Inc., a semiconductor services company in Bloomington, MN. He migrated his firms's data from Dell Inc.PowerVault arrays to a Compellent Technologies Inc. Storage Center SAN two years ago. "Back then, we used the old tape backup method," he explains. "We would have had to back up to tape, create a new volume on the tier of storage we wanted to use, restore that data and recreate all the shares as well. Time constraints were a concern; we would have had to do the migration over a weekend if it was a larger, substantial-sized volume of 600GB or 1TB, and we would have had to do that in the off hours and ruin the IT staff's weekend doing so."

Fitch's migration jobs are a lot easier now with Compellent's Data Progression Module (DPM), which moves data according to policies. "We just let it go," he says. "Nobody in the company even knows [the migration] is happening." Fitch says 99.95% of the data migrated by the DPM ends up on Tier 3 storage, leaving Tier 1 for important applications

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that need to be fresh, such as boot from SAN or live databases.

With Compellent's Thin Import capability, Fitch can move data without writing scripts and without the need for backup software or hardware. "You could use a version of Robocopy and script the move, or a trial version of tape backup software," he says. "We just plug the NetApp filer into the Fibre Channel [FC] connection on the Compellent SAN--which showed up as an external device--and just move the data over." (Robocopy is a command line directory replication tool that's a standard part of Windows Server 2008.)

Migration plan
While the goal of any data migration is to move data from one device to another, planning needs to take place to ensure that the migration is successful. Variables to consider include how long the migration will take; the amount of downtime (if any) that will be required; and the risk to the business from technical incompatibilities, database downtime or performance degradation. The plan must also define the data to be moved, where it will be moved to and how it's moved.

O'Neill at Oversee Domain Services uses F5 Networks Inc.'s Acopia ARX Series switch to accomplish his data migrations. "I've used the Acopia ARX switch extensively for data migration, typically volume-to-volume or array-to-array migrations. Usually, I'm managing data at the volume level," says O'Neill. "For instance, if I have four to five filers that have a lot of information on them that I want to move to a different filer or I want to move data off a filer while I do maintenance, I would attach the other filer to the Acopia switch and use the rules engine [within the FreedomFabric Network OS] to move the data over."


This was first published in June 2008

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