New Pills for Migration Headaches

Migration survivors tell their tales of long hours and lots of uncertainty

November 2, 2005

3 Min Read
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Although large data migration jobs often mean long hours and lots of uncertainty for storage administrators, a few who feared the worst had an easier time than expected with new tools.

Traditionally, data migration projects are long processes that can be unpredictable, especially when large SANs are involved. The process can take days, and thats if everything goes right. Migration tools usually don’t do a good job of shortening the process, or providing a good idea of how long it will take.

“Pick your poison,” one analyst who asked not to be named says when discussing migration tools. “There are a ton of data migration products -- Softek, StoreAge, Kashya, EMC’s SRDF, EMC SANcopy, NetApp SNAPmirror. Like I said, ‘Pick your poison.’”

But ask around, and it appears there are some solutions popping up that may be easier to swallow than others -- depending on your circumstances. New forms of help could be on the way. Last week Brocade launched its Tapestry Data Migration Manager (DMM) product, and today Xosoft announced InMotion software and Softek and EMC rolled out a collaboration on mainframe migration software called Logical Data Migration Facility (LDMF).

For example, Randy Simons, director of data center operations at Rancho Santiago Community College in California, found predictability an advantage in using Brocade’s DMM. (See Brocade Rolls Out Gear .)DMM uses Brocade software running over a SilkWorm Fabric AP7420 switch to perform migrations. Brocade claims DMM can keep users informed about how long a migration is expected to take -- thereby helping to save some guesswork.

Simons found it took a lot less time than expected. He planned a migration from an HP EVA 5000 to a larger EVA 8000 over Labor Day weekend because it had to be a time when the college was shut down. He was prepared for the worst until an HP rep pointed out Brocade’s new DMM.

“When everybody’s home fluffing their pillows, we’re working away,” Simons says. “We were thinking it would be long hours, and a normal forklift upgrade. Instead it took a day and a half.”

That said, Simons said the migration project did require extensive training from Brocade and HP support people to get the job done properly.

RBC Product Development had a smaller but more urgent migration project to carry out. The Kansas City firm tests and develops applications for the medical industry. That’s highly collaborative work, and RBC CEO Carl Mayer says most of his company’s business is conducted over email.“Exchange Server is the backbone of the way we work,” Mayer says.

So it was a big problem when one of RBC’s two Exchange Servers locked up in September and the IT staff couldn’t get it back. “We tried Service Packs, hot fixes, nothing worked,” Mayer says. “We had to migrate Exchange from the existing box to a new server, rebuild the server, and then swing Exchange back.”

Mayer says he looked at migration applications from NSI Software and XOSoft. He chose XOSoft’s new InMotion application, which was announced this week, mainly because of cost -- NSI’s application cost $3,000 per server compared to InMotion at $9 per user (or roughly $450 for Mayer's application). With two servers and about 50 users involved, Mayer found the savings significant enough to give the new package a shot.

But there was something else he liked about InMotion. “It’s not a move, it’s a copy, which is comforting,” he says. “You don’t want to crash halfway through a move, or you’re in a world of hurt. With InMotion, if you're halfway through and it crashes, you pick up from where you left off.”

Mayer didn’t have any crashes and was able to complete each copy in about an hour. On the downside, InMotion only supports Exchange, so it wouldn't have worked for a more general or comprehensive data center migration.— Dave Raffo, Senior Editor, Byte and Switch

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