5 tips for automating your migrationFebruary 19, 2019
This is the first post in our series about automation. Here, we share 5 best practices to help you automate the migration of your directories, messaging, or applications. Unlike some other business processes, these types of migration projects make for a good use case for automation. That’s because they’re standalone projects with clear goals and a large number of plug-and-chug tasks to crank through.
Automating your migration can help you:
- Stay in budget and on schedule
- Deliver higher levels of efficiency
- Reduce any issues due to human error
- Free up your IT team for higher value-add tasks
Here are 5 things to consider as you automate your migration.
Figure it in to the budget
Automation can save you time, but it also takes time to set up. Forbes warns that “far too many automation projects get blown out of proportion and go over budget.” Granted, they’re talking more about projects where you’re trying to automate an ongoing business process. But you should be cautions with one-off migration projects, too. In our experience, many migrations go over schedule and budget. That’s because there are some up-front planning steps that organizations tend to skip, which can cause issues later down the line.
In your budget, we recommend that you plan for:
- Software or services to automate the migration
- An assessment phase where you do an inventory of what you want to migrate
- A testing phase where you put your automation through its paces
- Consulting services for training and help as issues come up
Choose the right method
Migrations aren’t one size fit all. So you’ll need to choose a tool or service that’s flexible enough to adapt to your specific goals and use cases. Maybe you decide to migrate yourself, either manually or with automated software. Or maybe you bring in a partner like Binary Tree to take care of your migration from end-to-end.
When it comes to software, you have a lot of options for how you could automate. You could write your own scripts. You could grab a script that someone else has developed (there are a lot of homegrown scripts out there on the internet). You could use free tools provided by Microsoft to migrate their directories, messaging, and applications. But our experience has been that organizations who go this route often run into issues with the scope and flexibility of these tools. They often help with only part of the effort. And they often raise security issues, which we talk more about below.
So if your migration is large and complex, third-party automation software is often the best choice. You need a tool that is proven and robust enough to handle migrations of any size. And it should be flexible enough to meet your specific goals and use cases.
Partner with an expert
Because automation has become so important in the world of IT, a lot of new vendors are getting in to this space. Many of them are untested, and they can sometimes overpromise what their software can do in an effort to win your business. So your best bet is to find someone who’s done this before, has an actual client list full of people you can talk to, and who know exactly what it takes to get you from point A to point B. Seasoned partners can help you avoid the pitfalls that often come with these types of migrations.
Assess what you have
It’s always faster (and often less stressful) to catch and fix issues up front before you start migrating, rather than when you’re in the thick of the migration. So we always recommend to our clients that they spend time up front assessing their environments, doing an inventory of everything they have and what they need to move.
Here are just a few of the questions to work through:
- If you’re migrating Active Directory, do you have any unused accounts? Do you have any naming issues like extra spaces or other inconsistencies?
- If you’re migrating messaging from IBM Notes or Microsoft Exchange, do you have any unused mailboxes? Do you have attachments that are too large? Do you have delegation rights that could break?
- If you’re migrating applications, are all of them being used enough to warrant migration? Or could your users shift to another tool that offers similar functionality?
Test the automation
As with most IT projects, a key phase should be testing. This gives you another chance to find and fix issues ahead of time. So you should put your automation software through its paces and make sure all of your edges cases migrate as expected. Depending on what you’re migrating, you might want to even do dry run or pilot with a group of users. This is helpful when you’re migrating to collaboration platforms like Microsoft Office 365.
Keep an eye on security
Security is a hot button when it comes to migrations. Businesses want to make sure their data stays secure as they migrate, especially in heavily regulated industries like healthcare, government, and finance. But this is an area in which not all migration products are created equal. Much of the other migration software out there has requirements that pose security risks. For example, Microsoft Active Directory Migrator and other third-party software to migrate directories come with a requirement to open more than 60,000 ports in your firewall.
However, Binary Tree software has no technical requirements that add risk. That’s because we’ve designed our software with security in mind. Our software speaks to only one port in your firewall, and that communication is always one way. Which means there’s much less chance of your data falling into the wrong hands.