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Data Migration to the Cloud: Best Practices

May 16, 2022

Cloud migration enables enterprises to distribute workloads and improve scalability. For many modern organizations, the cloud is an essential tool for creating robust IT systems. 

Even so, cloud systems aren’t ideal for every application or every type of workload. Some organizations may need to maintain internal systems or data tape archives to maintain control over data — or to ensure compliance with privacy and security regulations. 

Some questions to ask when deciding whether to engage a cloud migration project:

Will data migration reduce overall costs?

Generally, the operational expenses of cloud storage are less significant than the capital expenses of onsite equipment. However, it’s important to perform a detailed cost analysis prior to the first phase of the migration project — particularly for enterprises that are considering a hybrid model with both cloud and on-premises solutions.

Will data migration improve data integrity?

While modern cloud services offer extensive resources for assuring data integrity, some businesses may prefer to retain onsite archives to simplify compliance requirements or to maintain consistent access to certain types of data.

Will data migration improve our disaster recovery strategy?

Data loss is still possible after cloud migration (in fact, our laboratories regularly receive cloud data recovery requests from enterprises). Before migration, have a new backup strategy in place. While data backup is usually easier when working with a centralized storage solution (in this case, the public cloud), strategy is still essential.

What data will need to move to the cloud?

Many enterprises maintain archives of data tapes in a variety of mediums (for example, DLT-4 and LTO-8), along with physical servers, network-attached-storage (NAS) devices, and other storage systems. Additionally, data may be in disparate formats, which can lead to issues after migration occurs.

For a successful migration, the data will need to be converted to standard formats. Ideally, all data will be equally accessible at the end of the project — but depending on your goals, you may choose to migrate a subset of data to control costs.

Below, we’ll explain some of the best practices for data migration to the cloud. However, it’s important to recognize that every project is different: While we’re providing general tips, we strongly recommend working with an experienced data partner to control costs, shorten project timelines, and limit the overall burden on IT personnel.

To discuss your cloud data migration with expert technicians, contact at 1-800-237-4200 or submit a case online.

6 Best Practices for Data Migration to the Cloud

1. Clearly define the scope of the project.

Cloud data migration requires prioritization, and prioritization is not possible if you haven’t properly defined the scope of the project. Start by describing the characteristics of the data: 

  • Data Storage Medium and Location
  • Data Type and Format
  • Size (Amount) of Data
  • Dependencies Within Datasets

When reviewing these characteristics, you’ll need to plan for how the data will function within the cloud system. Eliminating redundancies and addressing inaccuracies will ensure a smoother transition (and in many cases, reduce the overall cost of the project).

2. Establish the goals of cloud data migration.

Your business may need to move to the cloud to enable future growth — but if your IT systems are relatively fixed, migration may be an unnecessary expense. Likewise, some enterprises can dramatically lower their expenses by eliminating physical servers, but for other organizations, this isn’t a significant reason to make the switch. 

Identify why your business should migrate data, then build a migration strategy that reflects your goals. Your goal is to undergo migration once — even if you choose a phase-based approach — and if you’ve properly defined the scope of the project, you can categorize and prioritize data in accordance with your objectives.

3. Identify a timeline for data migration, but be prepared to make adjustments

Many enterprises attempt to perform data migration to the cloud in a single operation (the “Big Bang” approach). In most cases, a phase-based approach is simpler and less expensive, but the nature of your IT systems will determine the timeline. 

Avoid rolling data migration into another project. To meet established timelines, you’ll need to keep your teams coordinated, and attaching migration to other IT priorities can lead to confusion. 

4. Analyze potential bottlenecks.

When planning the timeline, consider unexpected circumstances that could prompt an adjustment. For example:

  • Physical Damage to Storage Media
  • Data Conversion for Older Datasets
  • Mapping Issues with Archival Databases
  • Security Compliance Requirements During Migration

Working with an experienced migration partner can help to offset many of these challenges. can perform recovery on damaged tapes, manage conversion, and correct inaccuracies before the migration occurs, reducing the burden on IT personnel — and ensuring data integrity during the most crucial phases of the project.

5. Identify metrics (and begin tracking performance). 

Decision makers will expect to see results following migration. After all, migrating data to the cloud requires enormous resources, and without clear metrics, demonstrating the benefits can be difficult.

Some potential metrics for data migration include:

  • Reductions in Capital Expenses
  • A Smaller Physical Footprint for Key IT Systems
  • Faster Data Access Times
  • Less Downtime
  • Improved Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) Metrics

Depending on the data, you may need to track memory usage, disk/hardware performance metrics, application latency, and error rates. Start tracking metrics early; otherwise, establishing a point-of-comparison may be impractical, even if you operate the new system alongside the old system. 

6. Leverage external resources.

Public cloud providers offer useful tools for transferring databases, and some service providers provide hands-on support and training for IT staff. 

However, enterprises should always work with experienced data migration technicians — while cloud service providers can make the process simpler, few providers offer custom support for complex challenges such as managing dependencies of in-house applications. 

Start Creating Your Cloud Data Migration Strategy is a leader in enterprise data migration. Our team can help you establish KPIs and data governance policies — and test your data migration strategy to identify areas for improvement. 

With fully equipped laboratories at each of our physical locations, we can also address media issues (such as damaged tape archives or failed RAID arrays), convert data to cloud-ready formats, and protect user data with best-in-class security controls.

Learn more by calling us at 1-800-237-4200 or submit a request with our online case form.