For most business owners and CIOs, the very thought of the inevitable data migration from legacy systems is enough to make them want to hide under a rock, and it’s no surprise either.
After all, most legacy data migrations fail the first time (at a staggering rate of 60%), meaning that essential data is likely lost forever in the process.
So, with that in mind, how can businesses complete a data migration process from legacy software without losing any data integrity?
The answer is that you need to devise a strategic, meticulously thought-out migration plan that ensures all data sets from existing systems are moved to the target system(s) without any loss or corruption.
In this blog, we’re going to explain, in-depth, what legacy systems migrations are, why they become absolutely necessary for businesses at certain points, and give a step-by-step explanation of the process so that you too can successfully implement your own data migration project.
What Is a Legacy Data Systems Migration, and Why Does it Become Necessary for Most Businesses?
A legacy systems migration is the process of moving data from an outdated system to a more modern one.
This usually happens when businesses outgrow their existing software (whether that be due to an increase in data sets or simply because they’ve been using the same software for too long) and need to upgrade to something new in order to stay competitive.
There are many reasons why a business might find themselves needing to migrate their data from legacy systems, but some of the most common include:
- The cost of maintaining existing hardware and software becomes too expensive
- The system is no longer supported by the vendor
- New compliance regulations render the existing system obsolete
- The company has been acquired by another that uses different software systems
Whatever the reason, a legacy systems migration can be an extremely daunting and complex task, which is why it’s essential that businesses plan and execute their data migration project carefully in order to avoid any costly mistakes.
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7 Essential Steps for a Successful Data Migration from Legacy Systems
So, now that we know what a legacy systems migration is and why they become necessary, let’s take a look at how you can successfully complete your own data migration project by following these simple steps:
Step One: Define Your Objectives & Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
Before beginning any data migration project, it’s absolutely essential that you first define your objectives and KPIs. This will ensure that you have a clear understanding of what you want to achieve from the migration, and can measure the success of the project post migration.
Some common objectives and KPIs for data migrations include:
- Reducing operational costs
- Increasing data security
- Improving performance
- Or simply completing the migration within a certain time-frame
Step Two: Assess Your Current Infrastructure & Data Sets Before Migrating Legacy Systems
The next step is to assess your current infrastructure and data sets in order to get an idea of what exactly needs to be migrated over to the new system.
This will involve taking stock of all hardware, software, applications, legacy databases and associated documentation that currently make up your legacy applications and systems.
During this assessment phase, you should also take the time to clean up your data sets and remove any duplicate or unnecessary information. This will not only make the migration process easier, but will also help improve the performance of your new system once it’s up and running.
Step Three: Choose Your Target System & Approach for Migration of Legacy Systems
Once you’ve assessed your current infrastructure and data sets, it’s time to choose your target system and migration approach.
There are two main types of legacy systems migrations:
- Lift and Shift
It’s important to select the one that best suits your business needs.
Lift and shift is often the quickest and most cost-effective migration approach, as it simply involves moving your data from one system to another without making any changes to the way it’s stored or accessed.
Case studies have shown that this approach is ideal for businesses that want to get their new system up and running as quickly as possible, with minimal disruption to their day-to-day operations.
Re-platforming, on the other hand, involves changing the way your data is stored or accessed in order to take advantage of the features and functionality offered by your new system. This approach is often more complex and time-consuming than lift and shift, but can offer significant benefits in terms of performance and scalability.
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Step Four: Prepare Your Data Sets for Migration
Once you’ve chosen your target system and migration approach, it’s time to prepare your data sets for migration.
This will involve creating a ‘data dictionary’ – a document that maps all of the data fields in your legacy system to their equivalents in the new system. This would mean it’s necessary to audit all data including anything stored in your third party or proprietary web applications as well.
The data dictionary is an essential tool for any data migration, as it ensures that all data is migrated accurately and consistently across both systems. It also makes it much easier to identify and fix any errors that may occur during the migration process.
Step Five: Perform the Migration of Legacy Systems
Now comes the actual process of migrating your data from the legacy system to the new one. This will need to be done carefully in order to avoid any loss or corruption of data.
One way to do this is to set up a ‘staging environment’ – a replica of your production system that can be used for testing purposes. This will allow you to test the migration process in a safe and controlled environment before making any changes to your live system.
Once you’re happy with the results of the migration in the staging environment, you can then proceed to migrate your data over to the new system in your production environment.
Step Six: Test & Validate Your New System
After migrating your data to the new system, it’s important to test and validate the results in order to ensure that everything has been migrated accurately and successfully.
This will involve running a series of tests on the new system to check that all data is being accessed and stored correctly.
It’s also important to perform a ‘data quality assessment’ – a process of checking that the data in the new system is complete, accurate and consistent with the original data in the legacy system. This will help to ensure that your new system is fit for purpose and able to meet your business needs.
Step Seven: Go Live With Your New System
Once you’ve tested and validated your new system, it’s time to go live! This will involve making the switch from the legacy system to the new one in your production environment.
Be sure to plan this carefully, as there will inevitably be some disruption to your business operations while the switchover is taking place. It’s often a good idea to schedule the go-live for a quiet period (e.g. over the weekend) in order to minimize the impact on your business.
After you’ve made the switch to the new system, be sure to monitor it closely for any issues or errors that may occur. This will help to ensure that your legacy data has been successfully migrated and that your new system is up and running smoothly.
Hiring the Right MSP to Perform Your Legacy Data Migration Service
There are many reasons business people in charge of data migration from legacy systems consider hiring a qualified managed IT services provider to perform the task.
The most obvious and valuable reason being it all but guarantees the data migration process goes right the first time.
In a world where lost customer or corporate data could spell disaster for an organization, why take the risk?
Here at Buchanan we have successfully performed hundreds of legacy data migrations for businesses of all sizes, from SMBs to large enterprises, and we can help you too.
To learn more about our pricing and legacy data migration service process, simply set up a free consultation with us today, and we’ll work with you to determine an effective solution that sets your legacy data migration up for success.