Why I Don’t Like Bowling, or Why Data Migration is Best Left to Software

I don’t like bowling. It seems to me that a robot would be a better bowler than a person — there’s no judgment required, as it’s the same target every time, with no wind shifts, defenses to consider, or human factors that add nuance to the game. Sure, it’s hard to repeat the optimal bowl every frame to hit the perfect score of 300, but if you designed a machine with close enough tolerances to do the exact same thing every time, it would always be better than a human.

Data migration is similar in many ways. You have a data set to be moved, and anything other than moving every bit in the expected amount of time is a fail. It’s repetitive and frustrating and only attracts attention when things go wrong. When it comes time for data migration, though, most storage admins and consultants think they can do a better job at moving data with their own custom scripts and processes than a purpose-built software package.

Sure, it’s not rocket science to move data from one system to another. Yes, any storage admin worth their pocket protector can write a script that can move data. But the rub comes in ensuring that every piece of data will move in the time allotted, that the migration can work around open or locked files, that the permissions and configurations will come over along with the data, that user data access isn’t unduly disrupted during the migration, and that everything will come up right on the other side.

Data migration is extremely detail-oriented and excruciatingly boring. Unless things go badly, in which case it’s very exciting, but in the “Oh, shit, I’m going to lose my job” way, not the “Wow, look how elegant this solution is” way. Nonetheless, admins continue to nurse the fantasy that they will be heroes and “save money” by avoiding spending on hardened migration solutions. Experience shows that the cost of manual migrations in terms of consultants, remediation, duration, outages, and effort are far higher in the long run than the price tag of an effective migration software platform.

The repetitive nature and close attention to detail that’s required for data migration makes it a perfect job for software instead of humans. A proven enterprise software platform that executes policies consistently and eliminates vagaries and errors will out-perform humans every time. Well-designed migration software can do the following:

  • Eliminate the need for scripting — Sure, it can be fun to write scripts, but save them for innovation, not migration.
  • Reduce the level of effort — Expert staff is scarce in growing IT environments, and companies need to get to new platforms without burning up cycles. A software approach to migration significantly reduces the burden on in-house admins and external consultants.
  • Pre-configure target systems — Scripts and utilities can move data, but they don’t recognize, configure, and validate settings on the storage target you’re moving data to; dedicated migration software can.
  • Offer a single platform for all data types, system types, and locations — With scripting and free utilities, you often have to use separate tools for CiFS or NFS data, for different vendor systems, or for different locations. A software-based solution can accomplish all migrations from any sources to any targets in any locations within the same software package.
  • Speed up migrations — Migration software can reduce the duration of migrations by filling the pipe through multi-threading and by skipping unchanged directories during incremental scans.
  • Reduce disruption from migration activities — Incremental copies in the background can whittle down the quantity of unmoved data, resulting in the shortest and least painful cutover possible.
  • Protect network resources — Scripts and free utilities hog up whatever network resources they can; a migration platform with QOS can use all available resources during off-hours and throttle migration traffic back during busy times.
  • Ensure that everything has been moved successfully — A migration software package can offer detailed reporting that tells you exactly what moved where, and anything that didn’t.

StorageX from Data Dynamics has been solving this repetitive yet critical problem in enterprise environments for more than 10 years. This means that our product has been improved continuously as a result of feedback from big enterprise environments that have used our product for complex migrations. A 1.0 product just entering the market can’t offer that level of refinement, nor can it solve customer problems as consistently and effectively as we can.

So hit a strike every time — take the uncertainty and frustration out of data migration by relying on software instead of human effort. StorageX offers a software platform for data migration that’s enterprise-proven, refined over years of service, and downright boring. Consistent results, every time, on time, regardless of the vagaries of the people involved.

Andrew Reichman About Andrew Reichman

Andrew Reichman brings more than 15 years of technology leadership as a marketer, analyst, consultant, project manager, and hands-on data programmer to his role as VP of Marketing at Data Dynamics.

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