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Flying Blind – The Importance of Preparation in a Migration project

When I was young (sadly, more moons ago than I care to remember) I learned a valuable lesson about the importance of preparation.

It all started with a rainy day visit to a toy shop with my father. I was always an engineer at heart and was immediately drawn to the construction kits – Meccano, Lego – that sort of thing.

Gazing across the vast array of mechanical marvels, a colourful and dynamic picture of an airplane swept into view. My passion for Airfix kits was born.

Full of excitement, I left the shop. Brightly coloured box in hand, I dashed home as fast as my little legs would carry me, my father in tow.

Over the next few years, I would spend many fun hours building Airfix models, but on that first day I made a big mistake.

In my childish belief that I knew exactly how the whole thing went together, I raced ahead with no reference to the advice provided by the experts. I immediately twisted off all of the parts into a large haystack of grey plastic and started gluing them together with absolutely no idea of where things should go, or even if I had all of the pieces I needed to successfully complete the job. As a result, I ended up making an aircraft which looked like it had already crashed. Painting it afterwards did nothing to improve the situation.

Fast forward a few years, and it is amazing to see some email migration vendors making the same mistake. Diving straight into a migration project without understanding what needs to be done, and the potential issues you might face, is asking for trouble. The fact is this: there is no definitive construction guide for every migration – each one is unique. TransVault certified engineers are professionally trained to start with an inventory, not just of all of the systems and their configurations, but also of the data itself so that they can drive the best migration possible.

Some migration vendors will boast that their product will start migrations immediately, without building an inventory of the work to be done. Far from being a real migration accelerator, this actually prevents you from taking a 360 degree view of the project first, which increases the chances of unexpected issues and delays that damage the credibility of the project.  And like some “post-factual election promise”, their marketing teams continue boasting in their ignorance.

Migration with ‘Intel’

Well, we don’t see lack of planning as a good way to ensure a successful migration and we have multiple reference projects to show where this initial archive analysis –  ‘intelligence’, if you will – has saved clients from ultimate failure. Without some appropriate preparation, it is impossible to know how far you are through the migration, nor what kind of issues you may need to be prepared for. It also makes the all-important chain-of-custody harder to demonstrate. In short, it’s a sure-fire way to end up with a migration as bad as my first Airfix kit.

TransVault’s software and processes have been enhanced over many years and thousands of projects. One of the core principles is we plan ahead so that we can help migration engineers and project managers to manage their migration and compliance. We build our software so that there is no meaningful delay. Even as one part of the software is migrating many archives, another is building the inventory for the next batch. When you start a TransVault migration, you do so professionally with clarity of the size and scope of the migration, and even some of the early warnings we can provide about potential issues you may face.

Far from being slower, the overall duration – which is the most important timing metric – is likely to be lower.  The quality will also be far higher as you will be prepared with the insight needed to make good decisions.

So, when looking to carry out an email migration, remember that failing to plan is very much planning to fail.  Make sure you’re not flying blind.

Darwin Lee
CTO

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