Once your enterprise has finished migrating all its content and applications from your legacy system into the target deployment, congratulations are in order! You’ve carried out a migration! This means you’re done, right?
Well… almost. Rather, you could consider a migration finished at this stage, but there are a few other things to follow up on before you can be sure that this is a seamless, successful migration. Even a migration that went smoothly can have gaps where last-minute problems sneak in, or for errors to go uncorrected, so you need a way to make sure none of those issues are in your future. This process comes in two parts: follow-up in the form of post-migration verification, and then planning for ongoing deployment maintenance and future migrations.
Following Up: Post-Migration Verification
Post-migration verification is an important, but often overlooked, part of finalizing a migration. It verifies the data in the target deployment against the source deployment and migration plan to make sure that all data went where it’s supposed to, and to confirm that permissions and dependencies and other important are working as intended.
A big part of any good post-migration verification is checking metadata – as we’ve discussed before, good metadata hygiene is important for a wide variety of reasons, but it’s especially important to verify it once your migration is done. Missing metadata can lead to issues where the affected content doesn’t show up in the proper listings, effectively dropping it off the map and, sometimes, removing it from user access, which is generally a big headache to resolve. We’d like to prevent those headaches.
Additionally, many systems typically contain sites and applications that call out for external services to accomplish or retrieve needed data; for example, a SharePoint site may call out to an Oracle database or SAP application. These functions are called external dependencies, and any good migration plan will propose a way to deal with them so the content in question can be moved to the cloud. Post-migration verification can confirm that those solutions worked and all the external dependencies in a given app have been accounted for and that the app in question isn’t calling resources that have since become unavailable.
Post-migration verification can similarly prevent trouble with users by making sure that their access to content remains intact and uninterrupted. As we mentioned earlier, even simple issues like missing metadata can cause content to stop registering properly and become difficult to find, which is a huge issue for users who need that content in order to get work done and, in turn, a potential problem for your enterprise if it pushes users to resist the new deployment. Post-migration verification is also hugely useful for making sure that permissions and ownership details have transferred intact and as intended for much the same reasons.
It’s worth noting that in some cases changes that disrupt users’ established patterns are unavoidable, but the negative impact of these changes can be lessened if you verify that all content is intact and properly accessible, and make sure that users are informed about any outstanding changes they’ll have to deal with. Determining what important information has changed and making sure your users are aware of that change, especially around permissions and other content accessibility details, are key parts of post-migration follow-up. Permissions are often the focus of concerns like this, as sharing and ownership are handled differently among the major deployments – if documents that are jointly owned in the source deployment have to be assigned to a single owner in the new deployment, it may be slightly disruptive to users at first, but you can certainly mitigate the disruption by following up after the migration to let users know why this change happened and how they can best deal with it.
With all of this in mind, your migration partner really should have a verification process in place. Automated verification solutions are preferable, in the interest of keeping this final step quick and inexpensive.
Keeping Things Neat: Ongoing Maintenance and Future Planning
It may seem counterintuitive to start thinking about a future migration as soon as you’ve finished the current one, but there are two complementary aspects to this type of foresight that make it worth your while. It’s inevitable that another migration will eventually be in your enterprise’s future (because of version changes and deprecation if nothing else); planning ahead for this future migration will help make that easier when the time comes while also keeping your newly minted deployment organized and productive in the present.
The main goal of both ongoing maintenance and future migration planning is to avoid another huge accumulation of unused content. From a future planning perspective this enables your enterprise to avoid the extensive, expensive migration that comes with owning large amounts of unused content; from a simple ongoing maintenance perspective, it’s only practical to keep an eye on the usage patterns in your deployment and archive unused content as it becomes outdated. Either way the goal is to keep your newly migrated-to deployment organized and free from drifts of unused content, smoothing the stage for both present and future use.
Conducting ongoing maintenance also helps reduce costs over time – by keeping an eye on what content and apps are or are not active, it becomes easy to better determine which unused content can be moved to less expensive archival storage. This helps to reduce the total cost of ownership (TCO) over time and makes planning for the next migration easier by minimizing the quantity of content to migrate in the future. Similarly, it’s worthwhile to keep an eye on the number of user accounts that are active or inactive. Retiring user accounts as they go dormant to avoid license bloat can significantly lower your enterprise’s TCO by reducing licensing expenses.
Even without those benefits, performing ongoing maintenance on your new deployment is a recommended practice. Assessing your deployment every so often to cut down on unused content creates better information hygiene, making future migrations easier and giving your enterprise a better ability to enforce legal compliance. It’s also easier in the long run to give users the tools and content they need if you can avoid accumulating a huge backlog of unused content.
Future planning can save you time and money in the long run, because it helps you keep on top of your enterprise’s needs and keep the amount of content you’ll have to migrate next time low and therefore makes future migrations less expensive.
Conclusion: In Summary
By carrying out a post-migration verification, your enterprise can confirm that your migration went as expected and remove the chance of a data transfer error. By planning ongoing upkeep for your deployment, your enterprise can make things easier for users and IT management in the present, and by following up on the migration with the relevant information (including additional training if needed), you can make the transition smooth for users as well. From an IT management perspective, an established plan for ongoing maintenance will make your enterprise’s next migration easier and less expensive as well.
With a thorough post-migration verification and a plan for ongoing maintenance in mind, it’s safe to call your migration a success. This concludes our blog series on planning, preparing for, and carrying out a successful migration. We hope that it’s been helpful, and encourage you to contact us if you have any questions!