40,026 Exabytes of Data by 2020 – Are You Ready? 5 Considerations When Migrating Data

There is no doubt our world is being shaped by data, by 2020 the digital universe is expected to be 40,026 exabytes, or billions of gigabytes, notes a report from IDC, The Digital Universe in 2020: Big Data,Bigger Digital Shadows, and Biggest Growth in the Far East, sponsored by EMC. If you take a look at our big data cheat sheet, this will help you conceptualize the size of the data society is creating. It’s a remarkable statistic, and government needs to be ready to handle the sheer volume of data.

This means being ready with the proper data storage infrastructure, the focus of a recent blog post on EMC’s Chuck’s Blog: The Ongoing Challenges of Data Migrations. The blog opens up by stating:

“One of the more painful topics in the storage business that never gets much of a public airing is data migrations: the inevitable necessity of moving all that information from one piece of hardware that’s no longer useful to a new storage array, and doing so in a way that minimizes effort and disruption.”

The article also reminds us of all the challenges that arise after a vendor has been selected and data migrations begin. Chuck’s blog walks through six reasons why data migrations are challenging, some of the highlights include:

  • Data migration is not just simple as “copy and paste” from one server to the next
  • Knowing which data to migrate
  • Knowing what needs to be migrated (apps, data sets, client/hosts)
  • Moving data will require downtime, coordinating this process with users as to not interrupt peak performance and user needs
  • Making sure the migration works and all systems are up and running working for users

After reading the blog post, I thought of 5 questions to ask in regards to data migrations.

1. How have we engaged with our various business lines and users?

Systems should work the same after migration – even better, with more storage, faster access and easier to access for the user. But these needs can never be realized if the user was never contacted or engaged with. This is also important if there is a need to preserve access, rights and privileges. Data migration, unfortunately, is not just a matter of copy and paste.

2. Is this an opportunity for us to focus on data governance within our agency?

Data governance is so important. Agencies may code or input data in different ways, to really find value from data, this process must be consistent across the agency. If you are migrating systems or moving to a new server, this may be a great time to investigate your governance policies.

3. Did I test the migration? Did I test again?

The more you can test, the more you can troubleshoot and learn any pain points for users. The best thing to do is to work out all the kinks from the migration, receive input from users and proceed with the full migration.

4. Are we migrating the right data?

If you are working on data migration, maybe there is some data that is just not needed by the agency or not core to the agency anymore. The only way to know this is to have a clear scope and need addressed, with clear variables and performance indicators laid out.

5. Is this project guilty of scope creep?

Scope creep is very easy to do, especially when you are looking at data migrations. Be sure to have a clear project plan and lead who is staying on target. Projects that grow unnecessarily will lead to delays, cost increases and slow down deployment for users. The goal is to efficiently migrate systems as to not disrupt the end users.

As we continue to create more data, storage infrastructure will need to be upgraded and modernized. In order to upgrade storage infrastructure successfully, agencies must continue to know the right questions to ask and work collaboratively to solve organizational challenges. In doing so, agencies can unlock their data, and find insights to drive new mission value.

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Kim Truong

The application that I was working on planned a large-scale data migration and pretty big thunderstorm occurred during the process. It led to a delay, but the data got to the final destination fine due to the trouble-shooting and reaction by the lead DBBA/developers. It’s good to have some sort of back-up plan because you never know that mother nature has in store!

Samantha Holquist

@Kim, that is an awesome story! @Pat, great blog post, a lot of really essential information for data migration!