Intentional Migration: Analyzing & Planning the Route Through Troubled Waters


7 File Migration Best Practices For Success

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Analyzing & Planning Content Migration

As organizations consider migrating content to cloud-sharing services, it is important to understand that there are many business and technical considerations that can affect the quality and the duration of the migration. At the Business Technology Summit conferences in Utah and Tennessee, DryvIQ had the opportunity to give a presentation, Intentional Migration: Analyzing & Planning the Route Through Troubled Waters, sharing what our team has found to be the seven file migration best practices to employ when planning your project:

  1. Setting expectations
  2. Assessing the data
  3. Understanding business use
  4. Analyzing environments
  5. Determining the migration approach
  6. Building the file migration plan
  7. Identifying content migration risks

1. Setting Expectations

What do you realistically best expect from your content migration when all is said and done? Because setting and planning for expectations can mitigate troubling surprises. When it comes to setting expectations, there are three main things to consider.

First of all, is the features, and what we mean here are migration fidelity, auto-remediation, and perfection. Another is users – ask yourself, “How will my users be impacted?” Disruption is a commonly known issue when it comes to users and migrations. Finally, of course, is what every organization wants to know – time & cost. How long will the migration take, and how much will it cost?

Throughput Factors

When contemplating your migration expectations, also acknowledge the following:

  • The Corpus Profile: More, smaller files will always take longer than fewer, larger files
  • Rate Limiting: Usually at the source because bulk APIs typically don’t cover retrieval
  • Source Platform Read Performance: This is easy to saturate. You must balance transfer performance with potential end-user impact
  • Database Performance: Migration is highly transactional, so you need a strong I/O subsystem in your database
  • Network Performance: Legacy document retrieval, external binary storage, and uploading to Azure/Office365 are all affected by network performance. Cloud-to-cloud is always much faster than on-prem to cloud, for instance.

2. Assessing the Data

Data assessment can feel overwhelming, usually because there’s so much of it. But this too can be separated into more manageable pieces. Start by gathering your metrics, including total storage size for all content, a total number of files, average versions count, average file size, and record-only (list) data row count. Next is to analyze the corpus profile. Begin this by documenting counts by file or by business unit, existing taxonomy, and topology breakdown. Finally, find documents with embedded links, permissions, sharing and other collaboration details, records management, and content-disposition policies

3. Understanding Business Use

Data can fall under different categories based on what it’s used for within a business. Understanding what the data is used for within the business helps you understand your content better, and what it’s made up of. This ultimately enables you to prioritize your content and figure out what content truly needs to be moved, resulting in a more effective and efficient migration process.

Collaboration Data: SharePoint Team Site / Document Libraries, Business Unit File Shares, Legacy platform business unit storage, group-level collaboration / declared records

User data: MySites, OneDrive for Business, “U” Drive, Personal or temporary collaboration

Transaction Data: Often integrated with a business process or automation, often long-term archive / rarely accessed

4. Analyzing Environments

Knowing the limitations within your business’s IT environment is essential when planning your migration. Migration expectations are highly dependent on the business’s capabilities. For example, lower bandwidth allocation will result in a slower migration.

Source & Destination Platforms: Disk I/O limitations, API limitations / Rate limiting, Network / Internet bandwidth, Server / Service resources available (affecting end users)

Migration Resources: Network / Internet Bandwidth, Scalable machine resources, SQL Disk I/O, Processing server CPU / RAM

Elasticity: Ability to scale up/down resources based on the migration project phase.

5. Determine the Migration Approach

There are two common ways to approach a migration: Grouped Waves or Phases, and Big Bang.

Grouped Waves / Phases Migration

The Grouped Waves approach is a means of dividing up one migration into smaller migrations. This approach may make sense depending on whether a business is unable to dedicate a large chunk of time to the migration.

-Easier change management for smaller groups
-Works well when business units operate in isolated collaboration
-Reduced impact on IT resources during cutover

-Can be a significant impact on collaboration across business units
-More phases require more spin up / spin down operations, resulting in higher costs
-Much slower overall cutover process can lead to increased cost while operating on two platforms

Big Bang Migration

A Big Bang migration approach is a strategy that businesses use to do a migration all at one time. This may include shutting down operations for a period of time, but sometimes the investment in time to do the migration more quickly makes sense.

-Much smoother cutover when collaboration is high (allows the entire organization to operate on a single platform at all times)
-A single-phase requires just a single spin-up/spin-down operation, resulting in lower migration cost
-Much faster overall cutover process can lead to a reduced cost because the old platform is deprecated quickly

-Change management happens for the entire organization at once
-Can result in a significant impact on IT resources during cutover
-Can also require significant hardware resources to process rapid cutover of large data volume

One more thing to remember is that the ability of the migration platform to provide a near real-time delta, continuous copy type of one-way synchronization can have a significant impact on the migration approach as well as cutover time and change management communication.

6. Building the File Migration Plan

The migration plan defines all of the processes, timing, resources, and resource configuration necessary to execute the migration. At a minimum, it should include:

-The migration approach and, if necessary, the wave/phase order
-Testing and turning processes
-Execution management processes
-Exception remediation plan
-Change management plan
-Project timeline for all of the above

7. Identifying Content Migration Risks

Watch out for these “gotchas” when planning a migration:

-Collaboration interruption (particularly when a phased/wave approach)
-Ways to minimize cutover duration
-How to handle externally shared content
-Automated processing dependencies
-Communication and Acceptance criteria
-Defining success with the “Am I done yet?” question when content is constantly changing


Migrations are most effective when customized to an organization’s particular needs, expectations, and limitations. So by planning ahead for these seven file migration best practices, many common migration issues can be simply avoided.

7 File Migration Best Practices Infographic

Analyzing & Planning File Migration7 File Migration Best Practices Infographic



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