hamburger icon close icon

6 Ways Data Governance Can Make Your Migration a Success

Data migrations aren’t easy, and in fact, the majority of them fail, causing companies to invest time and money into post-migration fixes, or abandoning the new platform altogether. Why don’t these migrations work out? At the heart of that failure is poor data governance.

As we’ve covered previously, migrations fail all the time. In this blog we’ll take a look at six ways data governance can help make for a successful migration and how you can do that with BlueXP classification. For the combined coverage of both these topics, download our full ebook: Why Data Migration Projects Fail (and What You Can Do About It).

Use the links below to jump down to the sections on:

The Crucial Role of Migration

As we covered in our previous blog, Migration Failure Is More Common Than You Think, migration is a critical business and IT operation. While most often people associate migration with moving from on-premises storage to the cloud, migrations also happen between databases, between hardware systems when it’s time for a refresh, and between different public clouds.

And despite how critical these operations can be, migrations most often fail. How are these migrations going wrong? There are a number of possible factors:

  • Misaligned business goals
  • Improper planning
  • Poorly prepared data sets
  • Improper methodology
  • Security issues

However, all of these factors have one root cause: a lack of understanding the migration data set. Data governance is key to fixing that, and NetApp has a way to do that with BlueXP classification.

Data Governance with BlueXP Classification

BlueXP classification leverages Cloud Data Sense, NetApp’s unified data governance toolkit, to provide the visibility and governance abilities to fully understand data, so you can properly plan out your migrations.

Data Sense automatically scans, identifies, classifies, and reports on data across your storage environments all from a simple graphical user interface. How can these help in your migration? In the next section we’ll see how these benefits provide solutions for each step of your migration.

Six Steps to Successful Migration (and How BlueXP Can Help)

Six Steps to Successful Migration

Since insight into data is the key to a successful migration, it should begin your migration planning process, with the other steps following from there.

  1. Knowing Your Data

    The crucial information for migration needs to be at your fingertips if you’re going to make your migration a success.

    Knowing your data is the best way to ensure a successful migration. As this is the first domino to fall in your migration plan, all the following steps will depend on accurately understanding your data. This can be a challenge in that enterprise-scale organizations typically have data spread out across multiple repositories that can be disparately located.

    At that scale, finding out where all the data is and what needs to be moved isn’t easy, but it will be crucial to the migration’s effectiveness. Moving everything isn’t feasible as it will be too lengthy of a migration to be effective, and move more data than actually needs to be relocated. It may also involve sensitive data that has regulatory requirements on where and how it can be stored that will affect migration plans.

    If you don’t already have the data governance tools needed to have insight into all of your data, it will be critical to get them before you begin to plan the migration. Data Sense can help by providing a number of crucial features:

    • Scans data across the entire data estate, including metadata
    • Works with any storage repository, NetApp and non-NetApp, on-prem or in the cloud, structured or unstructured
    • Produces clear, readable results
    • Identifies data based on a wide range of criteria, including custom definitions
    • Integrates with NetApp migration tools to facilitate which data moves
  2. Aligning Your Business

    Business alignment is all about stakeholders' buy-in. Data can help you do that.

    Migration shouldn’t just be just an IT topic. There are clear business reasons to execute the migration, as well as restrictions that can affect the data which data can be moved, such as regulations. Are all the relevant people (including the users of the applications) aware of the changes about to take place?

    You will need to be aware of who needs to be informed about the migration so you can get them on board with the project. Data sense can help you do that in a number of ways:

    • Data Sense scans are fully automated, producing results quickly that would be impossible to create manually
    • Scans are context aware, so results accurately display data that is sensitive and may require extra attention in the migration
    • Gain visibility across all your data estate so that business leaders throughout the organization can stay informed
    • Scan results can be presented in readable reports that can be shared easily
  3. Scoping the Project

    Your migration budget and timeline are important to follow. Doing so is another matter.

    When you know what you have in your data, you can better scope the shape of the project. When you know what to move and what not to move you can better estimate the time it will take and ensure those deadlines are on target. This is where most migrations fail.

    The project’s scope is the first element of your plan to define. As this is the first domino to fall in your migration plan, all the following steps will depend on accurately scoping the migration.

    At this stage it’s imperative to understand the migration’s business goals, which data needs to be migrated and which can stay behind, the complete budget you have to work with, and all the project’s major stakeholders. Understanding your data is crucial to these points, and that’s exactly what Data Sense can help you do:

    • Mapping and classification capabilities discover the data and its sensitivity (PII, business critical)
    • Highly accurate results allow teams to take action
    • Find out the data’s content, its context, and metadata
    • Scans and works with a variety of sources (on-prem, cloud, NetApp, non-NetApp, unstructured, structured)
    • Built-in dashboards make data visible
  4. Getting Data Ready

    This stage is all about data preparation and analysis.

    Knowing what is inside your data is the first step, but the migration will also need automated ways to parse and cleanse that data, plan will also need to determine how this data will be identified, parsed, and cleansed so that non-relevant data doesn’t slow down the transfer process and cause issues in the new environment.

    For this stage, you’ll need to be able to segment your dataset, so the migration set is separate from the data that isn’t moving. That means identifying data that is considered sensitive private data, and business critical data that may affect production environments when being moved.

    Data Sense can identify and separate the migration data set from the rest of your data:

    • Using artificial intelligence and natural language processing, Data Sense scans all your data, understands its meaning, and divides it by category, file type, location, size, sensitivity.
    • Data Sense’s data analysis and investigative searches use a wide range of criteria.
    • Dive deep into your data using Data Sense’s Investigation tab, which has clear, readable insights into usage to determine if data is stale, non-business, duplicate, etc.
    • Data Sense can analyze your data so that junk data can be separated from the “clean” version of the migration data you want to move.
  5. Methodology

    Your data set is ready, but how is the data going to get to the new environment?

    Moving the data is the primary goal of the data migration, so choosing the right migration tools to transfer data and workloads to the new environment is critical. If the tool is not efficient, the process will take longer than planned and risk putting the project over budget or past deadline. As the data is highly important to any business, this process can potentially affect normal operations. Not every tool will be able to sync with updates as data moves, which can risk data loss.

    Data Sense can help users identify and create clean data sets for migration that work seamlessly with NetApp migration tools such as BlueXP replication with SnapMirror® data replication and BlueXP copy and sync with Cloud Sync®.

    • Using Data Sense’s capabilities, NetApp FlexClone® can clone data in ONTAP-based environments that are restricted to specific data sets, aligning with clean data migration goals.
    • Existing NetApp users can use SnapMirror data replication for efficient, block-level transfers between ONTAP-based environments which can be managed directly through the same GUI as Data Sense.
    • If the migration target is non-ONTAP (native cloud storage such as AWS, Azure, GCP, or any other on-prem storage) the data can be prepared by Data Sense to create a “clean” version of the data, and then will be moved with Cloud Sync.
    • NetApp Cloud Sync can copy and continuously sync data from any non-ONTAP environment scanned by Data Sense.
  6. Ensuring Security and Validating the Migration

    Keeping data protected and governable in the new environment is going to ensure your migration’s success.

    Data that exists in one environment may need to be accessed by the same users after the migration. It’s also important that permissions aren’t accidentally granted to others in the new environment. Breaches can easily be the result of such lapses. Active Directory group memberships should also be retained so that users won’t have to reauthenticate after the move takes place.

    Effective data governance is also a security measure, and Data Sense help users:

    • Ensure ACLs are preserved in the source and destination environments
    • Easily manage permissions, so data is only accessible to authorized users
    • Integrate with Active Directory, so group permissions can be identified and preserved
    • Validate the migration by scanning for the data in the new environment

    Read more about how security factors into data governance here.


Once you gain proper insights into your data, all the rest follows, like dominoes. BlueXP classification uses Cloud Data Sense, NetApp’s unified data governance toolkit, to offer solutions that can facilitate each of these phases.

If you’re planning a migration, this blog will show you what can go wrong and what you need to look out for. Before you get started, make sure to get the insights you need with the help of NetApp BlueXP.New call-to-action

Semion Mazor, Product Evangelist

Product Evangelist