Planning Tape Data Migration: 5 Key Factors for Success


Data tape migration isn’t an everyday process, but it’s a crucial undertaking when upgrading to new backup software or switching to a new format. Moving terabytes of data requires extensive knowledge and expertise; unfortunately, most IT departments are ill-equipped to handle the work without seriously compromising other essential activities.

By planning tape data migration carefully, organizations can address some of the common pain points of the process — and keep migration within an established timeframe and budget.

Total Data Migration provides extensive resources to help enterprises create functional strategies. With support for every tape format and every backup/archival solution, we offer a streamlined process for performing migration while maintaining full compliance with security and privacy standards.

Contact us to learn more or read on to learn some of the most important factors that affect the outcome of enterprise tape migration projects.

1. Set clear requirements and goals for tape migration projects.

No two tape migration projects are identical, but most share similar goals:

● Reduce the physical footprint of backup/archival media
● Remove the cost of legacy systems
● Improve data accessibility by creating an accurate catalog of all backup/archive media
● Improve access speeds by moving data to the cloud or switch to a current-generation tape format

● Maintain compliance with data security standards throughout the process

To meet these goals, you’ll need to perform an analysis of your existing media and backup systems. Collect information about the data formats, backup software, the number of tapes, the media storage environment, and any industry-specific security standards that need to be maintained. Your tape migration partner can use this information to establish project requirements and provide a Statement of Work (SOW).

2. Don’t assign tape migration processing to an overloaded IT team.

Many enterprises attempt to handle tape migration internally. Unless your team has experience with migration, this can be a costly mistake: IT departments rarely have the bandwidth for large-scale tape processing, and very few have access to the necessary equipment for media repair and sanitization.

Look for a tape partner with a strong track record of enterprise media migration. Ask about their capabilities and technologies. Prior to the beginning of the project, you should receive a full SOW establishing the project timeline and requirements.

Total Data Migration maintains an enormous collection of drives and systems, along with a wide range of autoloaders, libraries, and other automation tools. As the industry leader in remote and onsite tape migration, we offer a scalable, secure solution.

3. Create (and test) tape migration catalogs.

For most organizations, one of the primary considerations in tape migration is data accessibility. If you’re confronted with a litigation or regulatory request, will you be able to extract important files quickly?

Accurate cataloging is absolutely essential. By the end of the project, you should have complete lists of every file on each tape or tape set. Just as importantly, the data should be accessible with your current systems — data conversion may be necessary to ensure that your new backup solution is compatible with legacy data.

4. Be prepared for unexpected challenges.

On paper, every tape migration project is fairly straightforward. In reality, that’s almost never the case.

Your tape migration partner should be able to address the challenges of migration, which may include:

● Data recovery for damaged tapes
● Data conversion for older backup solution formats
● Replacement of hardware that becomes damaged during migration
● Cataloging data that appears in unexpected formats or with atypical file organization

Needless to say, media migration is a specialized process. If a vendor doesn’t maintain licenses for legacy backup solutions — or an extensive library of tape hardware — the project will stall, potentially adding to the final cost.

After migration, legacy media needs to be securely destroyed in conformance with relevant standards. This isn’t as simple as it sounds: Common media destruction techniques like degaussing, shredding, and incineration can fail to meet the NIST’s Guidelines for Media Sanitization.

Again, it’s important to choose a tape partner that understands the importance of proper media sanitization. A randomized selection of media should be checked (and re-checked) to ensure that sanitization is successful, and your enterprise should receive documentation that clearly demonstrates the outcome.

If your organization is considering a tape migration project, TDM can help. Contact us at (800) 460-7599 to schedule a free consultation or click here for email contact info.