How To Minimize Data Migration Downtime

How To Minimize Data Migration Downtime

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  • Post category:Data Migration
  • Post last modified:September 23, 2021
  • Reading time:9 mins read

Data migration is one of the trickiest processes related to data. During the data migration downtime is a significant consideration due to its impacts on your business, even with when utilizing rapid data conversion services. 

This data migration downtime happens because data needs to be migrated at exactly the same time as the services that use the data – if there’s a gap in this process, the company will have to access their data far from the data certain, which causes downtime and latency, two issues that most companies can’t afford to have. 
Keeping the data safe, intact and in sync during the migration requires a lot of planning, automation and meticulous work, whether it’s a digital transformation, a change to the database or an upgrade to a new version. 
Minimizing the risks of downtime also make the data compare process much easier – it’s a process that should be done after the migration to check on the structure of the data from the source to destination, to ensure that no errors or serious changes were made to the data.  
The risk of downtime needs to be considered and all the teams responsible for the data migration should be prepared in case it happens.  Contingencies should be developed in the event of downtime, but everything should be done to minimize the chances of that happening. 

The Cost of Data Downtime

Most companies today rely on data and can’t afford downtime during migration. Gartner conducted a study to estimate how much downtime costs companies in general.
The results showed that an average downtime costs $5,600 per minute to all the companies surveyed and 98% of them said that an hour of downtime costs them between $140,000 and $540,000. Some other costs can be measured by: 

  • Lost sales: Losing sales, especially for companies that do business online, downtime will impact directly on the sales. Customers won’t be able to purchase their products and services.
  • Reputation: If the customer notices that he can’t make a purchase or can’t use the services, he’ll not try many times and will probably share the bad experience with other potential customers. 
  • Impact on productivity: most companies are dependent on online communication and services that are on the cloud and other servers, especially when the employees are working from home and depend on those access to do their work. A downtime can directly impact their routine and productivity will decrease. 
  • Lost data: Depending on the error that causes the downtime, some companies can face serious risks of cyberattacks and lose important data. Data can also be lost if the downtime damages what was being transferred. 

It’s a high cost and a headache that can be avoided with a few precautions and a lot of planning. Successful data migration with minimal downtime requires a lot of assessment, but it’s not impossible to achieve.

Recommendations to Minimize Data Migration Downtime

As the cost of data migration downtime is too high for some companies to even afford it, following the right steps and recommendations can be the key to ensure the success of moving the data. 

Make a Migration Assessment and an Inventory of the Data

Before the data migration, the key recommendation to ensure its success is to do an assessment of the data, the database and the environment. 
The company should conduct some sort of inventory of all the objects that are currently in the data store – including processes, procedures, tables, views, and so on – this inventory can take some time, but it’s a good investment of time as it’ll identify earlier all the areas or issues that could cause or prolong data migration downtime. 
This assessment will also tell the responsible team which areas need attention, so they don’t allocate the resources incorrectly.  

Migrate Only the Necessary Data

After the assessment and the inventory are completed, the company will have a clear vision of all the data, and there’s a high chance that not all data needs to go through the migration process. 
This will involve an analysis from all the systems and database administrations, developers and business leaders, but it can in fact make the migration faster and more strategic if only the right data on a smaller volume gets migrated.
It’s also perfect timing for the company to see if there is any data or archives that are no longer needed. They can use the assessment to improve their data quality by removing anything that’s only taking space and not being used. 

Make It Automated and Configurable

All data migration should be automated and configurable, as it’s important to make the changes as they are needed. 
To ensure even more safety in the process, some companies perform all the migration steps on a lower test environment – and they test it with new variables until the entire migration performs correctly.  
The lower environment should be a test and only the backup copy of the data should be used to simulate the data migration and improve the process. All the steps should be performed carefully in the test environment and only then the migration should take place in production. 

Try an Offline Copy Migration

This method is one of the simplest, easiest and safest ways to complete the data migration. With the offline copy, the application needs to be taken down, all the data from the on-premise database should be copied, and then the application can be brought back online. 
The application will need to be offline during the migration, so depending on the size of it and which service the company provides, it may impact customers and business. But for some organizations, the ones that have no problem with being offline for the needed downtime, this is the perfect way to do the migration. It’s a “planned” downtime that will ensure no risks and no unplanned issues. 

Master Migration

The master migration is probably the most complicated method of migrating data and has a higher potential for risks, but if done correctly, the data migration will be accomplished with zero downtime – which is the goal.
It should start with a duplication of the on-premise database master in the cloud and then, a bi-directional synchronization needs to be set up on the two masters. This way, the data from the on-promise will be synchronized to the cloud, and from the cloud to the on-premise. 
It’s basically a configuration of a multi-master database. And after they are configured, the data from either the cloud or from the on-premise database can be moved independently, at any time, without needing to worry about downtime or missing data. 
If any problem happens during it, the data will be in sync both on the cloud and on the on-premise, so the company can always get back to migration and redirect the data traffic to correct the issues.
After the migration is completed, the on-premise database master can be turned off and the cloud will be the master database. 
The master migration method is not for every business, but it’s a risk and hard work worth taking if downtime will affect the business in more serious ways. Some businesses can’t afford one single minute of downtime, so it’s worth putting in the effort to make a safe migration that will minimize the risks of it.

Mitigate the Risks but Be Prepared for the Unexpected 

Data migration is a complicated process, and it comes with risks of downtime, so there’s no way to run away from it. But there are ways to be prepared before, while it’s happening and after it, to fix all the issues and keep the downtime to the minimum. 
The risks usually appear while the migration is happening, but it’s important to keep it going, without stopping it – half-migrated data becomes useless and the damage done to the data can be irreversible. Let the migration run until the end and deal with the problems later to minimize downtime. 
The assessment done at the beginning will also help identify problems after the migration, since if the company didn’t know how everything was performing before, there’s no way to encounter the errors after it.
But planning the migration carefully, having a clear plan of which data will be transferred, having the right method for the migration, with the appropriate storage and database will minimize the potential risks from appearing, but it’s key to the process to be prepared for the unexpected – problems can come from where it’s least expected.