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6 minute readA Pain-Free Guide to Data Migration

A poorly-planned data migration can mean frustration, downtime, and loss of revenue. One of the main reasons migrations experience delay is failure to conduct a detailed analysis of the client’s existing infrastructure.

To complete a migration successfully, a hosting provider first needs to dig into the core issues the client is having. Then, once they have a strong understanding the architecture, the provider can plan for any potential hiccups in the migration process.

When Is a Migration Required?

The first thing you need to do is confirm whether or not a migration is necessary for your organization. Data migrations are typically required after when a company experiences rapid growth and an increase in customers.

The extra demand puts a strain on existing resources, and makes moving to a larger server necessary to keep up. It’s important to recognize these progressions in your company’s development cycle as they’re occurring. If you fail to scale your infrastructure along with business growth, users will experience downtime and bandwidth issues.

Picking a Hosting Provider

Finding a hosting provider that keeps open lines of communication is critical. To that end, always choose a provider who offers a dedicated point of contact who’s specifically assigned to your company for the migration The last thing you want is for the project to get passed around from person to person, adding unnecessary complexity to the process.

And you always want to clarify the hosting company’s responsibilities versus what they expect you to do when evaluating providers. Without a clear understanding of responsibilities, you easily can end up on the hook for work you assumed the provider would take care of.

Also make a point to discuss, in detail, how much effort the provider will put into dissecting the pieces of your applications, and find out exactly how they plan to move them over individually. And don’t be shy about getting references for migrations the provider has completed in the past, particularly ones done with similar technology stacks to your company’s.

Steps For a Painless Data Migration

Once you’ve confirmed that you do in fact need to do a migration and you’ve picked a hosting provider, follow these steps to ensure the process goes off without a hitch.

1: Architect your Solution

When designing a hosting solution, expect to spend significant time with your provider in the preplanning stage. The key to success is having a custom-designed solution that’s based 100% on your specific needs. By getting to know the ins and outs of a system architecture, your architect can create a hosting solution that checks all of your boxes.

2: Build, Provision, and Pre-test

Once your provider has designed a solution, the next step is to test it, and ensure all libraries, packages and supporting software are properly installed. This “burn-in” step evaluates the new architecture’s performance, redundancy, failover, library and application installation, monitoring, alerting, and operating system requirements.

3: Migrate Your Data

The next step is to identify any data that must be synchronized and ensure all necessary updates are copied and captured. Data is critical to your business, so you want your team performing the migration to the new architecture. By having your own team do it, you ensure the correct data has been identified, captured and moved.

4: Synchronize Your Database

Once your data has been moved to the new architecture, verify that the database information is configured and secured. All structured data stored in your previous environment should be automatically and immediately replicated to the new hosting environment, so your customers experience no downtime.

5: Move your DNS

Your hosting provider should redirect your site’s DNS records so they point to high-availability load balancers, which will redirect the connection back to your previous infrastructure.

This process should be transparent to both customers and applications so there’s no latency or interference with customer traffic during this process. Allow one week for the new DNS information to spread to ensure that propagation latency won’t negatively affect customer experience.

6: Implement Your Code

The next step is to implement your custom code on your new platform. During this step, you’ll work with the hosting provider to ensure all necessary libraries, packages and supporting software is installed.

7: Test With Live Data

Now you will test your real code, with real data, to ensure accuracy and completeness of the application. At this stage, the database has live information and the local data volumes have received both the replication and incremental updates for existing data with the live site.

Since you have more in-depth knowledge of your applications, functions and features than your hosting provider, they will most likely rely on you to test the completeness of the data synchronization and database replication.

8: Turn It On

At this point, all data is in real time and ready to support customers. Make sure to have a predetermined maintenance window for the hosting provider to flip the switch and begin directing customer traffic it from the old server to the new environment.

Even if you follow each step in the process closely, you may need to add in additional steps to meet all of your needs in a full data migration. Again, it’s critical that you maintain a close working relationship with your hosting provider so you can avoid any unforeseen obstacles.

If you’re considering a data migration and want to speak with one of our experts about your options, give us a call at 404 551-4534.


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Reid Smith-Vaniz

by Reid Smith-Vaniz

Reid is the founder and CEO of Reliant Technology and for 14 years has pursued his mission to remove the pain associated with maintaining IT infrastructure. Reid writes on common challenges related to maintaining, servicing, tracking, budgeting, and upgrading technology.

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