Legacy database migration: a 10-step strategy to succeed

January 12, 2024
Legacy database migration: a 10-step strategy to succeed

In the fast-paced technology world, businesses face a hard choice: sticking to proven old systems or embracing the new yet unexplored. It often feels like navigating a maze.

As competition grows and tools evolve, sticking to outdated technology may hinder your progress. It leads to technical debt, security threats, and a widening gap between your offerings and customer expectations.

But what if these hurdles are markers for growth opportunities? That is where legacy database migration comes into play. When executed well, such a transition yields a significant payoff. There are certain factors, though, every business should consider first to make the process smooth and transparent. Read on to explore the ins and outs of the data migration journey and learn crucial steps for a seamless transition.

What is database migration?

Imagine your business information is stored in old databases—historical and critical but disorganized and siloed. Managing such systems becomes cumbersome and costly, making companies move to modern environments.

Database migration options typically involve:

  • Updating the current system to the latest version
  • Transferring to a brand-new database from a different vendor
  • Shifting from on-premises to cloud-based databases
Database migration options
Database migration options

In essence, the main transformation goal is to preserve the existing functionality, while optimizing performance and simplifying maintenance.

But how to recognize the need for database migration? These are the key red flags to pay attention to:

  • Costly maintenance, including licensing fees and operations
  • Outdated technology or lack of vendor support
  • Struggles with data piles and increased user demands
  • Scaling challenges to meet evolving needs
  • Security and compliance gaps leading to malicious attacks
  • Data inconsistencies and frequent data corruption

5 data migration benefits

The decision to migrate from a legacy database brings multiple benefits, reshaping the way organizations manage and leverage their data.

  1. Enhanced performance and scalability

Legacy systems are unable to keep up with the increasing user demands and growing datasets. Today’s databases elastically scale resources up and down to handle specific tasks without overloading the system. This opens up more opportunities for business growth, ensuring unparalleled performance under expanding workloads.

  1. Cost and resource optimization

Obsolete hardware, licensing fees, and associated operational tasks contribute to the high maintenance costs of legacy systems. Database migration allows for idle resource optimization, thereby reducing ongoing expenses. Cloud-based solutions, for instance, offer flexible pricing with pay-as-you-go models, making it easy to tailor investments based on actual usage.

Legacy database migration benefits
Legacy database migration benefits
  1. Enforced security

Modern databases provide advanced security features, encryption standards, and compliance mechanisms. Opting for these alternatives helps preserve data integrity, reduces vulnerability risks, and ensures alignment with industry-specific regulations.

  1. Streamlined data management

The core purpose of data is to support decision-making. Legacy databases often cause silos that lead to data being duplicated, inaccurate, and incomplete. As a result, managing, extracting, and analyzing information for meaningful insights becomes challenging. Migration allows businesses to restructure and consolidate data for efficient data management.

  1. Improved integrations

Advanced databases support seamless integration with multiple third-party apps and tools. On the contrary, outdated systems might struggle to fit into diverse ecosystems. By upgrading, businesses can automate collaboration between multiple systems and foster efficient data flow across in-house departments.

On top of that, modern systems provide room for experiments, using cutting-edge tools, advanced analytics solutions, and artificial intelligence. This agility helps you stay competitive, respond to changing customer needs quickly, and find new revenue streams.

Expertise in action: Migrating critical data of a large seaport operator. Smooth operations, performance, and zero downtime
Case study

A 10-step data migration plan

Every business is unique, and so is the data migration process. At TYMIQ, we have developed a comprehensive approach that serves a solid foundation for refining strategies to your needs. See below a data migration checklist spanning three core stages.

Before the migration

  1. Dive into the new technology

Before migration, be aware of how a new database operates to troubleshoot effectively. Understand the nuances of the old and new systems, aligning your proven approach with modern practices.

  1. Outline a data migration plan

These are key points your plan should contain:

  • A project scope overviewing goals, tasks, affected workflows, and timelines.
  • A migration strategy based on the business needs, resources, and technical expertise. You can either gradually transfer system components or move the entire system at once. The approaches differ in the level of risk implied and migration costs.
  • A list of tools required for migration to assess the in-house team's capabilities. This helps to set realistic expectations or identify tasks to outsource to a dedicated team.
  1. Review data for quality

Ensure data is accurate and up-to-date in the existing system. Otherwise, you risk spending hours migrating incorrect data, which may result in project failures.

  1. Back up everything

Data security and protection is a top priority. Back up data right before the migration starts and have a rollback strategy in place.

  1. Design the target environment

Make sure that the new system is up and running. Before you migrate, model data queries to effectively correlate them between the two databases. This approach helps discover inconsistencies early and address them.

  1. Test the environment

Test the new database against various scenarios that may occur at every step of the migration process. Thus, you will spot flaws early, correct them, and confirm everything works as intended.

Key steps in the data migration process

During the migration

  1. Log data

Keep a record of all changes systematically. Map old database entities to new ones, ensuring the system is easy to audit. This mapping is vital for troubleshooting potential issues during the post-migration stage.

  1. Make it balanced out

Migrating at a slow pace may be critical in terms of timely updates, downtime risks, and increased project costs. For the sake of balance between efficiency and scrutiny, we advise migrating in small, manageable increments as per the outlined plan and timelines, regularly adjusting the migration speed.

After the migration

  1. Check for data accuracy

Verify data for consistency and integrity, ensuring a seamless transition and data reliability.

  1.  Engage stakeholders

Create a dedicated test environment for stakeholders to review results before moving to production.

When challenges arise

Once you have decided to migrate, be aware of various complexities on the way. The recent research states that only 46% of data migration projects are delivered on time. The survey by Deloitte revealed that 55% of respondents fear budget overruns, whereas 44% of them claimed that the lack of technical knowledge is also a blocker. Let’s zoom in on those common pitfalls companies may face during their journey.

  1. No established migration strategy

The problem is that the reasons behind moving to the new technology and the expected benefits for business are vague. Without a thorough assessment, there is a risk of budget exceeds, performance issues, security concerns, and other related setbacks.

  1. Lack of valid expertise

From system assessment to troubleshooting, technical specialists should be aware of what they are up to. This includes being well-versed in the technology specifics, agility and self-improvement, and adaptability to challenges.

  1. Data, data, data

The quality of the data migrated is key. Insufficient attention to data mapping, validation, and cleansing can result in errors and inconsistencies, compromising the overall project success.

Bring in the experts: legacy system modernization with TYMIQ

Successful database migrations are delivered quite often. The key sauce here is adopting a holistic approach, strategically considering multiple critical factors, such as thorough planning, continuous monitoring, robust testing, and stakeholder engagement.

At TYMIQ, we excel in legacy system modernization, tailoring common scenarios for your unique business needs. Our priority is to minimize costs while maximizing value through the right strategy. We start every project with a meticulous assessment and analysis, choosing a specific migration technique or a combination of approaches.

Learn how we approach legacy system modernization

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