NAS Data Migration Tools & Best Practices

Files are part of our day-to-day lives as humans, and increasingly valuable to enterprises whose empowered employees create documents, images, videos, designs, code containers, and science projects in the form of files. However, IT organizations that depend on NAS arrays to store their files need to know that the data will outlive the storage that it’s held on. The NAS arrays that enterprise IT organizations use to store these files continue to grow at a high rate. Having vast amounts of data storage capacity dedicated to files means significant effort in maintaining unstructured data systems and the need to migrate data from old systems to new when they reach end of life.

But NAS migration is surprisingly challenging. Verifying that all the data has in fact been copied, minimizing downtime to users as a result of the migration activity, maximizing copy performance while preserving network bandwidth for other business activities, and many other detailed steps are hard to do effectively but critically important to the success of the migration and to business agility in general.

Using an automated solution for NAS migration can yield much better results than a manual, script driven approach. While there are free utilities out there that can handle bit parts of the migration effort, coordinating everything from a single console makes better sense in terms of the level of effort, risk and long term cost.

An automated, policy-driven solution for NAS migration should allow file storage administrators to do the following:

Discover what’s in the file storage environment

An effective NAS migration begins with good information about the data. Planning a NAS migration project requires details on the quantity and capacity consumed of files, the age of files, how frequently they are accessed and modified, who owns them and what types they are. More advanced discovery that cracks into files and analyzes their content may be valuable for regulatory compliance purposes, but might be overkill if your goal is moving the data effectively.

Migrate the data

Effective NAS data migration is all about moving data quickly and minimizing disruption to the users and applications that use the files. A phased approach to migration does an initial copy of all files that aren’t locked or open. This happens in the background, while access to the source system is uninterrupted. Incremental copies whittle down the amount of data remaining to be moved to the target. Once most of the data is synchronized to the target NAS array, a short disruption is incurred while access to the source NAS array is suspended, the target is synchronized with any data that wasn’t previously copied, and user access is restored to the new system. This phased approach makes the final synchronization as short as possible minimizing the impact of the NAS migration to the user.

Validate that everything has been moved

A NAS migration is not complete until you can confirm without a doubt which files have been moved successfully. Reports that detail any exceptions to the move plan will make it easy to follow up on anything that didn’t come over. Clear detailed reporting about what has been moved is critical to ensure effective chain of custody and inventory of these critical business assets.


Image Credit: Flickr/Torkild Retvedt

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