The Value of an Experienced Data Migration Partner

By Jeevan John
5/21/2013

Many IT organizations take on data migration projects themselves, only to soon realize that they should have used outside help from the beginning. Moving business-critical data has the potential to cause serious disruption to the organization and requires significant planning to alleviate risk. Data migration includes the obvious ones such as storage, server and application migrations. However, less frequent and more complicated migrations like core network migrations, as well as data center migrations and consolidations can also benefit from using the same methodology and process associated with data migrations.

The reason to seek an experienced provider for your data migration projects is not that the IT staff is not capable – I can attest to this. Every day at Datalink, I am privileged to interact with many talented customer engineers and IT managers who do a fabulous job keeping up with the demands of the business. These folks are often tied down with a multitude of projects and are strapped for time and additional resources to perform data migrations. In addition, data migrations are something that IT does not do every day. They require a formalized process — a methodology — which does not fall into the core competency of many IT organizations – and rightly so. And clearly, the most effective IT organization is the one that can strategically partner with the business to help drive top line revenue and save costs.

After talking with several customers, here is what I believe are the three top reasons for using outside expertise to help with your data migrations projects.

1. Planning is everything
“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!”― Benjamin Franklin
It is hard to get cross functional teams to collaborate and plan the details for a data migration. Allow me to explain. Quite often, a data migration requires the involvement of application, server, storage, virtualization and backup teams. Although it’s not difficult to get them to work together, to have this team collaborate, come up with an overarching plan and a backup plan, and execute on these plans within a tight timeline can be quite daunting, given that they are already busy with other business-critical projects.

2. Time is of the essence
Data Migration projects, by nature, are complex. When an application is migrated, all compute, storage, virtualization and networking components of the application are moved as well to ensure that there is no downtime for the application. This, in itself, requires touching each element of the infrastructure and application layers.

There will always be something that goes wrong – it’s not a question of “if” but a question of “when.” Case in point: We had a customer in the healthcare space who took the migration upon themselves and ran into many unplanned roadblocks that could not be resolved in their allotted time frame.

When things do not go as intended, it’s very important to still complete the migration and execute on it. Otherwise you risk longer application downtimes and an adverse impact to the business. Data migration is 70% planning and 30% execution. A trusted partner can alleviate your risk from the very beginning, making the migration as smooth as possible, versus coming in midway trying to figure out what’s gone wrong, taking twice as long to complete.

3. Maximize the business value of IT
A question that every IT leader needs to ask themselves is whether IT is serving the business as a strategic partner. If you think about, it’s easy to see that IT is not serving the business in a high-value capacity when consumed with the administrative details of a data migration. Yes, data migration is a necessary step to ensuring that IT teams function properly, but data migration is in itself, a task that could easily be offloaded to a partner with a mature migration practice to ensure the associated risks associated are minimized and the migration itself is completed smoothly.

Bottom line: a data migration may sound easy, you may even have the capabilities to complete it in-house, but there’s a lot that can go wrong to negatively impact your entire organization. Are you willing to take that risk?