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Data migration requires disk, plus planning

We've written about data migration as the precursor to any kind of transition. Yesterday MB Foster held a webinar to dive deeper into the strategies that can give an IT manager advantages while migrating.

Screen Shot 2013-08-29 at 1.37.25 PMThe company says that the drivers for for moving data from one device to another include "Data refreshes, server and application consolidation, data center relocation, data classification/taxonomy, analytics/BI, reporting, MDM, Big Data and mergers/acquisitions. You’d think that any operation performed routinely would become easy. But alas, it is not so."

"These migrations are never going to be trivial, based on our experiences with customers. Not until you've got them scoped, figured out and automated. Even two companies using the exact same application might have stored things in their databases slightly differently."

The webinar included a demonstration of MB Foster’s processes using its product UDA Central, a data migration solution. There was also a mention of a new software tool that can look inside of databases, to see data that would benefit from being merged. For example, many different colors of black inside the records of a garment warehousing application.

Y2K experiences taught the MB Foster team that there are special case date types being used in applications. Among these are zero dates, where zeros were placed into records when the date was unknown; a sentinel date, where a user wasn't sure when an event would occur, so all 9's got placed in the field; as well as invalid dates.

"Those are all dates that you need to understand, and understand early," said CEO Birket Foster.

"We're working on a series of tools will tell you what's in a database, so you could go in and say, 'Dump the vocabulary for this field called color," he said. "One of the customers who'd like us to be doing some work for them has 12 ways of spelling black right now. They're in the retail business, and they know from the buyer to receiving to the distribution center, to stores and to analytics, different spellings of black will produce different results."

With 40,000 SKUs, this site is worried about how to aggregate these useages and spellings to black becomes common to all SKUs.

"We think you should automate the process of data migration as much as possible," Foster said. "No migration of data is done once. It's done at least three times." First and second migrations are done to test, and the third is to go live.

"Your objective is not to custom-code every one of your migrations," he added. It's to automate the data extraction, as well as the on-board loading of data to the target database or platform. 

The webinar demonstrated the migration of SQL Server data to an Oracle database, (shown above) as a means of showing what the UDA Central software can do to lift and shift data to popular databases, manage complex data structures and mitigate risks.