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Key Challenges of Database Cloud Migration

As we shift enterprise computing to the cloud, the need for database migration increases—but with this comes the inherent challenges of migration and the need to plan. Moving to the cloud can come with more risks and obstacles than migrating a database within a data center or from one on-premises data center to another. If a business isn’t fully prepared to migrate, they’re almost certain to run into issues. The promise of a faster, more scalable, and less expensive cloud environment has already motivated many businesses to migrate. We’ve learned important lessons from those first movers, primarily that without proper planning and discipline, the risks may be greater than the rewards. Let’s get into some of the key challenges of database cloud migration and how organizations can best prepare for a successful shift.

Key Challenges:

  • Database Cloud Migration: Migrating to the cloud means your database application can’t make any assumptions, especially about things like low latency networks
  • Time and Cost: DBMS migrations are often more time-consuming and costly than on-premises migrations
  • Risk Factor: Failure to plan properly means risking cloud benefits or even jeopardizing the migration project
  • Necessary Skills: Organizations may need to develop or acquire new skills in cloud technologies, security, and enterprise architecture
Drafting a thorough migration plan can be vital for an effective shift to the cloud. Through in-depth research and the right preparation, organizations can avoid these challenges altogether and enjoy greater success than on previous projects. There are a few important steps you should take when migrating and best practices you should follow to ensure everything goes as smoothly as possible.

Our Recommendations:

  • Define Your Goals: We recommend setting a list of high-level business goals for a database cloud migration. This will allow you to establish important ground rules, help you choose the appropriate technology for your migration, and help you gather the right team members for the job.
  • Sort Your Priorities: Not every step of your migration will be at the top of your priority list. For example, what level of performance and business continuity requirements are needed for your database once it’s in the cloud? This step should begin with a short overview and prioritization of your goals, include an assessment of the costs and benefits of each goal, and end with a decision on whether your organization should proceed with the migration.
  • Assess Your Migration: After deciding to migrate, your team will need to evaluate your migration plan for any risk factors or flaws. First, you must fully understand your on-premises database environment, data dictionary, and data assets. Second, collect performance benchmarks so you have quantitative evidence of what good performance looks like after migration. Next, you must plan out your cloud “landing zone” so you can properly reproduce or even exceed the functionality of your current database estate. This will help catch any issues before the next step.
  • Execute and Monitor: You shouldn’t experience any surprises in this step. Microsoft provides a variety of point tools to move data and databases for both turnkey migrations and phased migrations. Pay attention to the execution process and ensure everything is running as expected. Once you’re running in the cloud, monitor closely to ensure you’re meeting or exceeding customer expectations.
  • Cut to Production: This should be your final step before going live. At this stage, your line-of-business subject matter experts (SMEs) should have performed detailed verifications of the database and application. Again, there shouldn’t be any surprises here, and you should only have to look out for small last-minute changes. When you’re ready, you can decommission your previous system.
Though the challenges may seem intimidating, database cloud migration can come with many benefits. Planning is key to a successful migration and should be approached with determination and the willingness to commit.
Kevin Kline
Kevin Kline is a Head Geek, noted database expert, and software industry veteran. As a 13-time Microsoft Data Platform MVP and with 35 years' experience…
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