ECM Data Migration (I): What Is It And Why Do You Need To Worry About It?

What is data migration, and why is it a real issue for users of enterprise content management (ECM)?

Organisations have a requirement to manage their information – be that their documents, their engineering drawings, their NHS scans, whatever it may be. And as we know, many rightly look to ECM or a good Content Records Management system to manage all that content.

The reality is, though, that in a lot more cases than people care to think about, their information is housed in legacy systems – which could be as simple as a file system, an older document management system or perhaps a combination of both (or more). They want to be able to wrap that information in some intelligent data so they can find it at a later date, bringing it into their enterprise repository, with the vision that the enterprise repository is going to be where all of their core information is going to be: maybe research information, scans, documents they work on a day to day basis, reports – all this information needs to be held somewhere so they can go and find it.

Here’s the problem: the idea of the repository is a sound one and we recommend it. But just how do you get all that important information held in these legacy systems into that corporate repository? This is made more complicated by the fact that in many cases the older systems are coming to end-of-life – and you don’t want to lose any of that information.

So, welcome to the data migration issue. If valuable information the business needs or wants to keep is on a platform that may be about to stop being supported, what can you do?

More and more companies in this situation are turning to specialist, dedicated content migration services, like the SynApps one. We work with you to understand what information it is you want to maintain, what the data model is that sits around it, what information you wrap around your content so that you can go and search for it and retrieve it. That will allow us to then take the information perform a data-mapping between the source and the target system (the ‘source’ being the legacy system, the ‘target’ being the brand shiny new car).

So what we also need to do, as well as understand the data, is to understand the different content types that you have to ensure that you are able to view that information in the new system. I do have to say that in some cases that information may be held in a format that is no longer available and there aren’t tools to display that information, e.g. some old word-processing format. But we work to salvage data in that situation too.

In the next SynApps blog, I’d like to delve a bit more into the details of the specific help we can give you on this important issue. But I hope you agree that it is a real challenge – and I also hope you have started to think about how you will cope with it too.