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iTernity Blog

Challenges of compliant data migrations at the storage level

Data archiving for the long-term often requires data migrations from an existing archive storage to a new system. Reasons include the replacement of proprietary archive silos, rapid technological advances of storage solutions and data consolidations (e.g. as a result of company mergers). These migration projects are often associated with various goals: reduction of time efforts and costs, minimization of disruptions in daily business operations, compliance and data integrity protection. A suitable storage platform for long-term archiving and appropriate migration processes can master these challenges.

What is meant by „data migration“?

Data migrations at the storage level are defined as moving data from existing storage platforms to a new target system. All data migrations have one thing in common: To ensure a successful data transmission, the integrity of the data to be migrated must be protected - on the one hand to comply with legal requirements and on the other hand to guarantee business continuity. Careful planning and a substantiated, overall migration strategy are the foundation for successful and smooth migrations.

What are the reasons for data migration?

In essence, many different projects have exhibited the following reasons for data migrations:

 

Replacement of proprietary hardware silos:

Limitations and disadvantages of proprietary archiving solutions often result in data migrations to a future-proof and efficient archiving platform. A disadvantage of outdated archiving systems is, amongst others, that companies are tied to a specific vendor (hardware lock-in) when using these solutions. This can cause high costs – e.g. if every new hardware generation requires new licenses or if unused storage capacities must be licensed. The effect: A migration to a hardware-independent archiving solution is sought, which guarantees higher flexibility, reduced operational expenditure and the protection of business investments.

 

Technological advances during the retention period

Legal and internal compliance regulations define specific retention periods for many types of business data, which can amount to several decades in some cases. These retention periods require multiple migrations of existing data as storage technologies constantly evolve over time and result in replacements of outdated archiving hardware. To keep costs during the retention period as low as possible, data must be moved to cheaper storage solutions from time to time. This causes data migration projects to ensure compliance with legal and internal regulations for a long period of time and allow to keep pace with technological advances.

 

Companies mergers and spin-offs

When it comes to company mergers, corporate takeovers or spin-offs, data often needs to be prepared and merged. This applies for archived data too. For instance, mergers can cause movements of the archived data to new companies, storage systems or technologies. Also, mergers may be the reason for implementing a unified data archiving by centralized shared IT services which in turn results in migration projects.

How to solve data migration challenges

 

Data integrity protection

When migrating data, there is a risk of data damage or loss, which can occur as a result of unintentional transmission failures. This also affects content-related and important meta information like retention periods, time stamps or IDs. Therefore, during the data migration, companies must ensure that the data to be migrated is identical to the data before the migration. This can automatically be verified by retaining hash values for example.

 

Compliance with regulatory requirements

In cases of data migration, companies must adhere to compliance regulations, data protection specifications and internal requirements. At European level, the GDPR requirements, amongst others, have a strong impact on data migrations – e.g. with a view of monitoring and logging data access as well as data integrity protection. The German GoBD rules require logging all processes and procedures of data retention in a procedural documentation. The Swiss GeBüV requires to ensure data completeness, validity, availability and legibility as well as logging the data migrations.

 

Due to the complex requirements, companies should take into account that the service provider or the relevant technical personnel has a deep knowledge and experience in compliance topics if a migration project is to be implemented.   

 

Reduction of complexity and costs

Data migrations are often associated with pronounced complexity and high costs. Factors that may affect the migration complexity include the business applications involved and the deployed storage platforms the data is stored in. These circumstances require a good and well-thought-out planning and careful preparation of the migration. A proven process with clearly defined steps from data validation on the existing storage platform to the final and complete transmission to the new archive solution can solve this challenge. In addition, a well-planned procedure saves time and thus costs for data migrations.

 

Minimization of downtimes and disruptions of business processes

The data migration should be completed within as short a period of time as possible in order to minimize disruptions and downtimes of the source and target systems and thus to ensure smooth business operations. If the migration is undertaken in the background or if downtimes of business applications or the file storage are minimized, disruptions of business operations can almost entirely be avoided.

Quick check: Requirements for data migration

To perform successfull data migrations, the following requirements should be taken into account:

  • A profound migration strategy as well as a planned and professional migration process are the basis for successful migrations.
  • The migration should be performed automatically (as far as possible) in order to enable structured testing and optimization of the migration steps.
  • Archived data must be accessible during the migration.
  • The migration of archived data must be logged in a seamless, complete and audit-proof manner. Furthermore, the migration must be provable for legal and organizational purposes, e.g. by audit trails and end-to-end logging. In addition, the initial origin of data must be traceable when it comes to a migration.
  • It is important to safeguard the integrity and authenticity of data for long periods of time, as in many cases the data to be migrated is sensitive or business-critical. Features like plausibility tests, integrity checks and access control provide overall protection.

Data migrations to a Software-Defined Archiving Solution as an innovative approach

 

A Software-Defined Archiving Solution offers hardware independence and enables fast and economic data migrations.

  • Reduction of time and costs for the data migration and minimization of disruptions to daily business operations.
  • Data integrity protection by integrity checks
  • Deployment of migration tools and processes

However, providing an innovative and future-proof Software-Defined Archiving platform is not enough. Complex migration scenarios require proven migration services in order to offer optimal support for this challenge. Thereby, special and proven migration tools and processes are used, which ensure secure and efficient data migrations compared to application migrations. The migration services include plausibility checks of the existing data and audit trails with end-to-end logging.

 

If you want to learn more about the options of data migrations and Software-Defined Archiving or plan a concrete data migration project, our specialists provide you with advice and assistance. Contact us.

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