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What is data migration?

Data migration is the process of transferring data from one system or database to another as part of an integration.

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It involves extracting data from the source system, transforming it into compatible formats if necessary, and then loading the data into the target system or database.

Data migration ensures the secure, accurate transfer of data between systems, preserving the integrity of data and the continuity of business operations. This process is required to achieve API integration with new systems, upgrade existing systems, or consolidate multiple data sources into a single system.

For example, the Data migration feature in the Sendbird user dashboard helps you migrate messages from another system into Sendbird's system channels. 

Typical steps in the data migration process

Without a migration feature in a communications platform, the process of data migration typically includes the following steps:

  • Planning: The first step is to plan and analyze the data to be migrated. This involves establishing the compatibility of the data structures and formats in the source system with those of the target system.

  • Extraction: Retrieving data from a source system is called extraction. It involves accessing the APIs to export data in a specific format before it's stored in a staging area for further processing.

  • Transformation: To be migrated, data must exist in a format compatible with the target system. To ensure the data requirements between both systems align, transformation can include converting data formats or performing data aggregations to ensure compatibility.

  • Mapping: Data mapping is the process of defining the relationships between two different data sources. This ensures that data from the source system lines up, or maps onto, the corresponding fields in the target system.

  • Loading: Data is loaded into the target system once transformed and mapped. Bulk loading techniques like batch processing efficiently transfer large volumes of data.

  • Validation: After loading data, validation and quality assurance processes help ensure the migrated data's accuracy and integrity. This includes resolving errors, verifying consistency, and reconciling source and target systems discrepancies.

  • Transition: The last step is transition and cutover, in which the integration goes live, and the target system takes over as the primary system for data operations.

Data migration is a key step of API integration, specifically for the historical user data for in-app messaging. API providers offer data migration tools as part of their fully-managed API services, helping to ensure an efficient, comprehensive data sync that has as minimal an impact on end-users as possible.

Similarly, when migrating from one communication service provider to another, it helps to have a live migration solution handy. Migration can take a month or more, and a solution cuts down on the cost of monitoring and maintaining the migration process.

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