Cowboys May Be the Heroes of the Wild West, But Not So Much in the Datacenter

Here's how to ensure a potential data migration solution can achieve your desired outcomes.


Recently, I was asked by a colleague what I viewed as the top challenges being faced by today’s enterprise IT professionals. As an IT professional yourself, reading this, I can imagine you’re thinking your list is long. However, I would bet that a lack of freedom and flexibility to move your data and associated business operations from one platform to another — as well as into the cloud — rates high on your list. And this too was my response.

After all, who would argue that today more than ever, technology holds the key for any organization that is seeking to simplify, transform, accelerate innovation, drive competitive advantage, protect, and serve, as well as drive down costs? Yet, the inability to effectively, efficiently, and safely move your data to where it needs to be, and even a certain level of fear, oftentimes stands in the way and blocks the ability to reap these rewards.

This is a common lament we hear from enterprise customers and channel partners — and even, our vendor partners. (p.s., This makes sense. On the one hand, a little vendor lock-in isn’t a bad thing if you’re the vendor and the customer is locked into your platform/methodology. But, if your goal is to get the customer to move off of their current platform and onto a new one or into the cloud, the freedom and flexibility to do so is key to your sales process.)

Tomorrow is the most important thing in life. Comes into us at midnight very clean. It’s perfect when it arrives and it puts itself in our hands. It hopes we’ve learned something from yesterday. – John Wayne

Doing it yourself is an option some IT professionals decide to pursue. However, if you have been down this particular road before or watched a cowboy colleague trying to wrangle this challenge on their own, the aforementioned fear is understandable. Besides the tremendous amount of time and effort necessary… today, tomorrow, or even years from now it may become clear that certain data you thought had been migrated over, did not. Or, somehow it had been corrupted during the process. Finding out today provides the opportunity to go back to the drawing board and try it all over again. But, finding out years from now is a whole other can of worms.

So, what has experience taught us about the true cost of using the wrong tools for data migration? Bottom line, it’s a losing proposition, here’s why:

Lost Time, Efficiency, and Efficacy – Traditional script-based solutions can be extremely… slow. And they cannot guarantee accuracy without additional (and significant) effort applied to write scripts and validate data after the copies have taken place.

Some vendors do offer tools to help customers move data onto their platform. However, much of the time, these tools are proprietary and can only effectively move data from one of their platforms to another of their platforms (the keyword here is “effectively”).

There are also software vendors that offer reporting, security, and/or backup solutions which some vendors employ. These vendors assume that they can add migration capabilities to their existing product since it is already navigating file systems. Unfortunately, these “bolt-on” migration solutions are often lacking in features specific to migrations. They lack speed, ease of use, monitoring, content validation, and other key capabilities such as a dedicated cutover function to aid in the all-important cutover event prior to retiring an old storage system. They also don’t have any specific code to address the anomalies between different vendor implementations. While there are standards governing access protocols and the behavior of file system objects, the storage vendors are free to implement those standards however they choose, and it’s not uncommon to find differing behavior. This results in a great deal more staff involvement and time necessary to manage the migration, as the bolt-on technology does not have the ability to handle the nuances that cause problems when migrating between different vendors’ storage platforms.

Last but not least, vendor bolt-on solutions and other free tools also typically lack the level of automation and intelligence that is crucial for today’s dynamic and increasingly complicated IT environment. It is challenging enough to manually execute migrations, let alone deliver the necessary end-to-end data protection, security, chain-of-custody, and other of today’s most critical business requirements.

Lost Opportunity & Warranty Savings – In the context of migration, the combination of manual efforts and slow copy performance can result in long delays before a new asset can be put into production and/or an old asset can be decommissioned. With the warranty clock ticking, not only are you missing out on the IT and business benefits of the new platform or environment, but you may be left paying for two or more systems for an extended period of time. Warranty is a key thing here. Adding months or even years onto your warranty can mean thousands to hundreds of thousands, in added cost.

“Courage is being scared to death… and saddling up anyway.” – John Wayne

Data migration ain’t easy. And, if it isn’t done right the ramifications can be devastating. In the face of legal proceedings, a compliance audit, or simply day-to-day business operations nobody wants to be the one that has to report that the necessary data has been lost or can’t be accessed. Perhaps, maintaining the status quo — keeping all your data right where it is — might seem like your best course of action. But we know it isn’t. IT investment holds the key for business growth, innovation, competition, and success.

So, you make the smart decision, and the new innovative technology and/or environment investment is made. Now, what is the best way to get there? Or more specifically, how best can you get your data from here to there? After all, whether you have invested hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars, you don’t want your investment to just sit, gather dust, and depreciate.

Many of the leading technology vendors and channel solutions providers have established data migration partners that can potentially help you to migrate data between storage platforms and environments. However, to save yourself time, cost, and headache down the road, it makes sense to do a bit of your own homework here as well. Here is a quick and easy check-list to use to confirm that your potential data migration solution is able to help you to achieve your desired outcome – data on new systems, everything works, nothing is lost:

  • EASY TO DEPLOY – to get you up and running quickly through easy-to-use installers and virtual appliances.
  • NONINTRUSIVE – to enable you to run the migration project transparently and non-intrusively to ongoing business operations.
  • BUILT-IN DISCOVERY – to extract the metadata from your storage platform and provide insights to help you intelligently plan your project.
  • SIMPLE TO MANAGE – via a graphical user interface (GUI) that enables you to set up and manage multiple migrations quickly and easily, as well as monitor progress in real-time or remotely through detailed email reports.
  • SHORTER DURATIONS – speed, flexible planning, and dry run simulations should be inherent features to help you to optimize the planning and cutover of users and applications to the new storage system(s)/environment(s).
  • EASY CUTOVERS – to help you plan and execute your cutover windows for a smooth transfer of users and applications to your new storage platform. It allows you to deal with last-minute schedule changes swiftly and non-disruptively.
  • CHAIN OF CUSTODY – the solution should perform a checksum on every single file that is migrated and provide down-to-the-file-level chain of custody reporting.
  • BUILT TO SCALE – a distributed model and advanced throttling and scheduling allow you to manage migrations of any size while optimizing performance.
  • SERVICE AND SUPPORT – priority response service and support keeps your data migration initiative on track, and your systems performing to your business expectations.

Steve Leeper

Steve Leeper currently serves in the Office of the CTO at Datadobi. In his role, Leeper is responsible for analyzing emerging technologies and market applicability for future products and services. Leeper is also responsible for guiding new products through the Technology Adoption Life Cycle.

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Steve Leeper

Steve Leeper currently serves in the Office of the CTO at Datadobi. In his role, Leeper is responsible for analyzing emerging technologies and market applicability for future products and services. Leeper is also responsible for guiding new products through the Technology Adoption Life Cycle.