Top 5 Data Migration Trends

Data, it seems, always needs migrating. Whether it’s from end-of-life systems onto the latest and greatest, from on-premises to the cloud, or from operational systems to a long-term archive, data is always on the move.

Here are five trends in the data migration market: 

1. Unstructured Data Migration

During 2022, CIOs will remain focused on infrastructure modernization projects that support evolving data and workflow requirements resulting from the continued explosion in next-gen applications, cloud, Internet of Things (IoT), edge, and work-from-anywhere environments. Topping most priority lists will be digital transformation (DX) initiatives that target unstructured data. While “structured” data (for instance, databases) is far from obsolete, “unstructured data” (documents, images, video, and more) is the fastest growing category of data within the enterprise. 

“It will therefore be critical that CIOs and their teams employ solutions that enable them to quickly, safely, and accurately migrate unstructured data to its ideal platform and, then, effectively manage its protection and life cycle,” said Steve Leeper, VP of product marketing at Datadobi.

“Most importantly however, this will be to move unstructured data to the ideal spot to drive analytics, machine learning, and business intelligence activities, enabling advantageous business decisions to be made rapidly.”

He makes a good point. A lot of data migration of unstructured data is done to make the data accessible to artificial intelligence (AI) and analytics applications. In some cases, that data is simply moved around in-house, but on other occasions, the information has to be moved to the cloud.

2. Migration Software Consolidation 

There was a time when software was available purely for a specific type of migration, like moving data from a legacy application to a modern system. More recently, cloud vendors devised software that helped organizations move large amounts of capacity to the cloud. Furthermore, they developed hardware that could be sent on site so that all data could be loaded onto the box and then shipped to the cloud provider. This prevented network overload in trying to migrate all that data over the web.

But the scope of data migration software has expanded, according to Surya Varanasi, CTO at StorCentric. Channel solutions providers and end users alike are demanding intelligent cloud-enabled data migration software that helps them to eliminate data silos.

“In 2022, users will demand an all-inclusive software solution that provides vendor-agnostic file migration, replication, and synchronization across heterogeneous storage environments, including disk, tape, and public or private clouds,” Varanasi said. “In doing so, users will eliminate data silos, improve employee productivity, and deliver an additional layer of data protection.

“Users will not settle for less than a non-proprietary server that is capable of managing millions of files. It must be able to set intelligent policies based on an organization’s specific requirements and integrate with current infrastructure and supported S3-compatible clouds, so users can take advantage of cloud infrastructure(s).”

3. Data-first Migrations

Data migrations are largely regarded as unavoidable, risky, and painful. Every three to five years, users had a hardware refresh that forced a massive lift and shift. The move to the cloud only added complexity as migrations had to be accomplished over wide area network (WAN).

The term data-led migration is starting to become popular; rather than planning migrations in terms of storage volumes, a data-first approach can break the work into smaller segments. By first analyzing data and then migrating or moving by workload, data type, or other key value, you can be more agile. This breaks what had been a massive and disruptive task into smaller bites that’s also easier to manage with lower risk.

“Data-led migrations are especially relevant as customers make the transition to the cloud,” said Steve Pruchniewski, director of product marketing at Komprise.

“The idea is that you aren’t doing a bulk migration from on-prem to the cloud, but rather moving the right data set to the right cloud service to provide the desired performance, features and cost. This is also in line with the current trend of multi-cloud environments.”

This data-led approach also brings the opportunity for continual optimization of data placement. With a data-centric approach, you can right-place data, so it always lives in the right place at the right time. 

4. Database Migrations 

Databases used to always be in-house. But John Kutay, director of growth and product at Striim, has strategic migration of entire databases to optimize resources, cut costs, and adopt modern elements of the IT stack, like moving the database to the public cloud or a hybrid cloud. More and more, in-house databases are migrating to the cloud where they can be linked more easily with analytics, customer-facing strategies, marketing, and other enterprise systems.

5. Cloud-to-cloud Migration   

Migrations mainly used to be from on-premises to the cloud. These days, the bulk of migrations are from one cloud to another. Whether for resiliency, better discounts at another provider, or for data recovery (DR) purposes, companies are moving their cloud data around.

“There is a definite trend of moving data and apps cost effectively and in a timely manner from one cloud to another,” said Greg Schulz, an analyst with StorageIO Group.

Yes, there may be high-speed networks between cloud providers. However, one of the challenges that people are waking up to is that, generally, it is free to put data into a cloud, but you get charged for taking it out. Thus, there is a trend around awareness of cloud data egress and what can be done to reduce that impact.

Drew Robb
Drew Robb
Drew Robb has been a full-time professional writer and editor for more than twenty years. He currently works freelance for a number of IT publications, including eSecurity Planet and CIO Insight. He is also the editor-in-chief of an international engineering magazine.
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