How to handle your own great migration
By Jennifer deJong Lent
June 27, 2012 —
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Related Search Term(s): legacy apps, migration
Conduct a data migration analysis
Migration projects present other data challenges as well. The team has to figure out what data is essential to the new app and what’s not. “Someone has to make a decision as to the right set of data to migrate,” said T3 Technology’s Townsend. This is often more complicated than it initially appears. He gave an example of a bank that would have a set of data at each of the local bank branches, and a set at the bank’s headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland.
Migrations that involve data subject to government regulations, such as the data privacy rules stipulated by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, further complicate matters, said Zeon’s Yash Shah. “Data is always important, and even more so when it’s subject to compliance mandates. You need to analyze what data must be ported over,” he said.
Mantra’s Maulik Shah offered an additional piece of advice: Don’t overlook historical data that dates back many years. “It can be useful, and if you don’t migrate it, you have to set it up yourself at the get-go,” he said.
Automate data access and analysis
How you get at the data matters, too. “When data is pulled from dozens of sources, you need to do it in an efficient way, using tools to automate the process,” said Ibrahim Surani, CEO of data integration tool maker Astera. Once the data is in hand, profiling tools can help clean it up by creating rules against which to measure the data, he said.
A final step involves reconciling the data moved from point A to point B. “How do you know if you have moved it correctly?” said Surani. “Compare the two and reconcile them.”
Avoid the “big bang switch”
Migration projects are often associated with the idea of “changeover at midnight,” said Andreasen. “But don’t think in terms of the big bang switch. It scares everyone,” he said.
It doesn’t make sense to shut down the old system and start the new one, added Maulik Shah. “You want to slowly phase out the old app, transitioning small groups to the new app one at a time.”
Starting small can minimize the impact of the changeover, said MuleSoft’s Mason. He offered an example: “An insurance company that offers auto, homeowners and life insurance policies might choose to migrate life insurance customers first, since that segment represents only 5% of its business.”
None of this happens overnight, added Yash Shah. “In a large company, you phase in one location at the time,” he said.
Until the transition is complete, the new app and its legacy counterpart should run side-by-side, said Surani. “Make sure you build a bridge between the two of them. How they interact during that period is important,” he said.
Don’t let past failures intimidate you
In many shops, migration projects have a bad rep, noted Andreasen. There have been many failures, and as a result, managers are afraid to undertake these migrations projects. “But if you do it right, in a modern way, migrations can turn into something good,” he said.
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