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System Integration Vs. Data Migration

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System Integration Vs. Data Migration

There are many products on the market today that are designed for system integration, and yet they claim can be used for data migration.  While system integration tools can be used to migrate data between systems, they require you to temporarily integrate the two systems together.  This may seem like a great idea at first, but using an integration tool to migrate data can present many problems, especially when you are integrating one or more live systems.  Just because you can squeeze a square peg into a round hole doesn’t mean you should.

The biggest problem with integration tools is that they were not designed with data migration in mind.  As a result, the types of information that integration tools provide may not be entirely helpful when migrating data.  Very rarely do organizations integrate two systems that provide similar functionality (e.g. two different CRM systems).  As a result, integration tools may not even offer the ability to “temporarily integrate” all of the types of data you wish to migrate.

When systems are integrated, the intent is to share data; changes made in one system are propagated across to other systems.  Systems that are integrated are designed to work in tandem with each other.  A good example of this is a customer relationship management (CRM) system and a marketing automation (MA) system – each of these systems provide a distinct set of functionality that when used together become a very powerful tool.  

When data is migrated between systems, the intent is to replace one system with another; data needs to be extracted from one system, analyzed, cleansed, manipulated, possibly merged, and finally imported into another system.  

The biggest challenge in migrating data between systems is manipulating the data so that it will work in the new system – this manipulation is necessary because different systems that perform similar functions typically work differently, and therefore store data differently.  No two systems are alike (if all systems worked the same way, why would you migrate in the first place?).

For a tool to be truly effective in performing the task of data migration, it must be designed to perform data migration.  It must consider all of the scenarios that a typical user goes through when migrating data between systems.  It must account for every single record migrated and help users identify where the problems are.  It should not require users to design process around data migration because the actual process of migrating data between systems is typically the same.  And it should be easy enough that developers aren’t needed to write complicated conversion programs or scripts or design processes to migrate the data.

My advice: If you are going to perform a data migration, find a tool that was designed to do data migration, rather than trying to use an integration tool.  Like I said, just because you can fit a square into a round hole, doesn’t mean you should.

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If music be the food of love, play on. I'm passionate about technology, music, food and family. Technology, because it's a part of everything; music, because there is nothing like a perfect harmony; food, because I love to eat (and sip wine); and family, because life has no meaning without it. I'm a software and technology geek who works with an amazing group of people, plays the piano, loves to cook, and has an amazing wife and daughter with a son on the way.

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