This is part of Solutions Review’s Premium Content Series, a collection of reviews written by industry experts in maturing software categories. In this submission, Syniti CTO and EVP of Growth & Innovation Rex Ahlstrom offers insight into approaching migration strategy, with advice on how to decide if it’s right for your organization.
With the continuing trend of large-scale digital transformation, mergers, acquisitions, divestitures, and the continued push towards the cloud, more and more organizations are looking to tackle data migration projects. But as these migrations approach, many are still struggling with a mix of legacy systems, on-premises and hybrid cloud deployments, information silos and dark data.
For a large organization with huge amounts of data and systems that need to be consolidated or migrated to new applications, the idea of a repeatable model or process can be very appealing. This is also true for organizations facing multiple merger, acquisition or divestiture (MA&D) events. The challenges faced by these organizations give rise to the concept of migration factories. Essentially, this involves creating a common migration model that a company can use to harmonize and consolidate data assets to meet business process requirements and the company’s operating model.
How do you know if this is the right approach for your organization? There are a few factors to consider.
Migration factory approach
What is a migration factory?
Suppose you are looking to migrate data from several fairly well-known standard sources. You don’t want to have to recreate the wheel or start from scratch every time; you don’t want to have to treat each migration like a snowflake because it’s too expensive and doesn’t build on what you’ve learned in previous migrations.
A migration factory is about creating repeatable patterns and rules, so that every migration can follow a standard pattern, with as little customization as possible. With this model, you build a work team that represents a set of skilled resources and uses a common methodology and software tools. When this team is faced with simple or complex migrations, or projects with tight deadlines, they are better prepared to succeed.
Another essential element of a migration factory is the ability to engage both commercial and technical workers throughout the process. Data ownership may not rest solely with the technical team, but often the tools available only meet the needs of technically trained resources. The data ownership and team structures of a migration factory should be a mix of technical owners, business processes, and business units.
Another form of migration factory occurs when a service provider – usually a system integrator or specialized service company – wishes to create an outsourced service for rapid conversion of specific source and target systems. For example, the need to move from an older on-premises ERP system to the vendor’s latest cloud-based ERP offering. The customer benefits because it converts faster – and more cost-effectively – and the ERP software vendor benefits because it simplifies moving customers to their latest software offerings. Ultimately, the result is more predictable from a time and cost perspective.
Is a migration factory approach right for you?
Migration factories are called factories because they work for types of repeated and rote migrations – situations where you have a common target system or source/target systems. Thus, if there is little commonality between migration events from a source/target perspective, a migration factory may still be a good choice, but the level of automation achieved will be limited to one methodology and common tools. The highest degree of automation is achieved when you have a specific model for the systems involved and the data models required to support the correct execution of business processes.
So how do you determine the right approach? Start by looking at specific processes, such as mergers, acquisitions, and divestitures (MA&D). If your company is about to undergo several acquisitions and you realize that your business will continually change thanks to MA&D, creating a migration factory could be very effective. If you’re facing a large-scale system consolidation, a migration factory can be a great choice to shorten what is sure to be a multi-year deployment. If this is something you plan to outsource or provide in combination with your global system integrator, work together to determine operational structures, responsibilities and accountability as part of the migration factory process .
At the core of this approach is the standardization of tools and methodology – having predefined content or templates and project plans, rules or mappings. Even if you are dealing with different systems, the more you have this standardization, the more you will be able to automate through a migration factory.
Build the right migration factory for your needs
Methodology is essential. If there is no common methodology immediately, just because you are using a common set of tools, even a common set of models, you are not going to achieve a high degree of repeatability or automation. . A second important factor is the tools you use. If they don’t incorporate this methodology in terms of the design of the tool, and you depend on the person to implement the methodology, but the tools don’t limit you to this methodology, there is a risk that she is not followed. And you will need experts who can perform this work.
You will also need to implement continuous improvement to bring the process to a place where it runs like a well-oiled machine. It is an agile process; each subsequent migration you perform using a migration factory approach should improve. You need to focus on improving the content, the process, and the standards you use to get the result. So the more migrations you perform, the better your process will be, and you fine-tune your process to become a well-oiled machine.
Business stakeholders should also be part of the change management process. If there are changes in core business processes, or if new requirements are driven by a change in business objectives, the business should be a key stakeholder in approving changes to the migration plant. Understanding how the business is directly impacted by data ensures that the “factory” can quickly adapt to change.
If you are going to do a number of migrations that follow a similar pattern, setting up a process based on a locked and loaded pattern can save you a lot of time and resources. That’s the benefit of a migration factory: a collection of teams, tools, and processes that work together to streamline migrations in a systematic way. If you are currently involved in or planning several similar migrations in your organization’s future, a migration factory approach is worth considering. Use the best practices listed above to create an approach that saves your business time and money while reducing headaches for the IT team.