Decoding the terminology: Migration

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Migration: It is a technical word used in multiple scenarios each with a distinct definition. For example, an ornithologist will define migration as “the annual, large-scale movement of birds between their breeding (summer) homes and their non-breeding (winter) grounds”. However, a sociologist will define migration as “the physical movement of people within and between social systems; often focusing on “push factors” and “pull factors” (conditions that cause people to leave one are and to be attracted to another) as well as international demands for labor and the shift of capital across national boundaries.”

Both these definitions are unique, yet correct. Migration is about shift- a movement. As far as technology is concerned, Migration means “moving a set of instructions or programs from one platform to another when an old system is replaced with a new one, with minimum reengineering to avoid downtime.”

In terms of IT technology- migration can involve the following 4 types:

1. Server migration

Server migration is essentially like moving your house. Your website, user data or order history- all of them have a designated residence address on your server. When you migrate your server either to move to a scalable cloud solution or to increase server space, it is essentially like getting a bigger house or moving to different locality. However, don’t be mislead by the simple metaphor, server migrations can be very tricky in real-life situations. The biggest risk being loss of data. Though most server experts ensure back-ups with adequate restoration solutions. Real-life situation could include moving your data from a single machine server to a cluster service like Amazon Web Service (AWS) or use managed hosting from various vendors.

2. Platform migration

Platform migrations is more like moving from one housing society to another. Essentially you will get your common areas- the swimming pool, children’s play area and walking track, but each society will elaborately ‘sell’ these features to you. However, your decision to move from one platform to another can vary depending on your current provider infrastructure and your needs.
Yet as in platform migration, you always want to ensure that post migration all your systems/applications run as smoothly as before. At enterprise level, these interdependencies among different systems like customer acquisition to customer lifecycle to production to sales to support can amplify your scope as well as budget.

3. Version migration

Version migration is a lesser used term. It feels like moving from your first victorian fixer-upper to a more modern house. Commonly, version migration is also termed as version upgrade when moving within the a technology framework. This is usually enhances features and/or security. For example, moving from WordPress version 4.5.3 to version 4.6. A more rare occurrence of moving between technology would be moving from blackberry to android. Though both are/were mobile technology, this virtual shift of user base migration resulted in rendering one technology as obsolete.

4. Database migration

Database migration is the process of transferring data between storage types, formats, or computer systems. It is a key consideration for any system implementation, upgrade, or consolidation. It essentially feels like packing and moving all your stuff. A common occurrence would be updating to the latest version of MySQL.Even the tiniest item could be very important; it needs careful consideration and moving. Therefore, due to its universal role, database migration is an important consideration in all other types of migration.

Data migration is a risky business. It is a big decision, just like moving-in is. The main risk factors include, business loss, application stability, completeness risk and delay risk. While you have learnt the bits and pieces of migration, we would love to share tips and tricks for data migration in the next blog.

In case, you are looking to talk to an expert regarding your project requirement, we would love to talk.