Today, we live in a very large world of mergers, acquisitions and divestitures, which results in organizations that have multiple platforms and data stored in many different locations. It’s a puzzle of complexity and idiosyncrasies where the pieces don’t necessarily all fit together and even at times don’t make corporate sense. Most importantly, these businesses need one singular platform where their data safely resides and is legally defensible. Not only does the data need to be securely archived, but it needs also to have the ability to migrate from one corporate owner to another, or from one platform to the next.
Organizations must ensure that all their information is going to be accurately and efficiently transferred. Whether it takes the form of legacy email that has been stored, tape backups or voice data, all that data must be held, must be compliant, and with the full assurance of corporate governance. When data is moved, there must be no risk that it has been disrupted or modified. With all the stress involved in migration and archiving, some may wonder if such a shift or move is worthwhile. It definitely is. In particular when you consider the cost savings achieved when decreasing your overall hardware and software footprint, reducing data maintenance fees and increasing your ability to centrally manage all your data, both legacy and new, from a single source or location.
What used to make sense in the past when most organizations were running to simply archive and store is no longer cost productive or acceptable. This is especially true when you are maintaining multiple solutions to manage multiple data types and sources as these solutions are costly. For every solution, you pay licensing, utilities, and maintenance fees. Add to that the expense of expert staffing for each system and you are looking at exorbitant costs. Migrating to just one system, or one solutions provider, or a single partner of record will significantly reduce your costs, and make you look like the company hero!
The reality is that most companies have multiple locations, remote workers and an increasing amount of data to protect, define policies around and retain. Simplification makes companies more efficient. Migration offers the opportunity for less complexity and an overall savings. Organizations are making the move to cloud-based solutions to get rid of things in their local environment. For example, there it could be something that has been kicking around for five years and the tech that took care of it left four years ago, and now a staff is just maintaining something that they had no hand in enabling or validating.
Finally, you must be an advocate for your customers’ data. Healthcare providers and financial institutions are subject to very strict data retention requirements and failing to adhere to those rules can have severe financial and legal consequences. You don’t want to be the IT guy that not only cost your company unwarranted costs but that also opened them to a legal issue because you couldn’t secure, retain or easily access and restore much needed data.
To begin the process of formulating a defensible strategy, you must determine where your data currently resides and to where it will be moved. Think of it as if you’re moving into a new house: If I’m taking all my furniture, I need to have somewhere to put all that stuff. There will also be mitigating factors when moving from one system to another. Do you delete the old systems that are in the environment? Do you want to move historical data to the cloud?
Then, it’s time for research. There are some cloud platforms that, once the data has been moved, will cost you a handsome amount of money for the vendor to release or extract the data. The challenge is to find a solution that is equitable overall, and that doesn’t charge to release your data.
Once you have assembled a short list of vendors, ask about security. Remember, this data is being held for legal purposes. It must be immediately available, accessible by trusted employees, as well as searchable and available 24/7. Should there be outages where the data cannot be available, there should financial penalties to that vendor.
Note that some providers won’t tell you where they store your information. Why so secretive? The U.S. federal government can legally search a hard drive anywhere in the United States at any time. So that could be a factor for some.
Most companies need to ensure their data is migrated and archived safely and securely, that no change occurs to the information or metadata during the move, and that if it ever needs to be reviewed, it is in the same condition it was in on the date it was created. If any of this information needs to be called in for litigation, it can be ascertained that it is the original data and that the “chain of custody” has not been broken. To mitigate any risk that the data could be compromised, it is important to partner with a company that can archive and migrate without disruption.
But all data is not created equally. Data archiving requirements differ based on data type. Retention requirements are different for healthcare information than they are for financial data, for example. Businesses with sensitive data handling requirements should look to solution providers and other archiving/migration experts capable of properly implementing data archiving and data lifecycle management solutions.
An excellent data migration partner understands their customers’ environments and the target destination. Typically, clients will complete a questionnaire that helps create a profile. This will help to document the project scope accurately and correctly. A thoughtfully completed questionnaire provides insight into how much data exists and where that data is currently stored.
After over two decades in the data migration space, there is one thing I always tell my customers and partners – your data may be your most important asset. The way it is archived, the choice of a provider and your ability to readily access it on demand may be the difference between retaining your role or shifting to a new one. Lean on an expert that can help you make the appropriate and data sanctified shift.