Minimizing the risk of an email migration

According to the report, “The potential loss of data is at the top of the list with more than half (52%) of the companies mentioning this.”

Last week Mimecast announced the results of their Great Email Migration research, conducted by Loudhouse Research.  Loudhouse surveyed 500 IT decision makers in the US, UK and South Africa and asked them about their email migration plans.

Companies are right to be concerned at the possibility of data loss. Infrastructure which is in flux opens companies up to be vulnerable to data loss, due to bad process, unmanaged configuration change and/or bad discipline. How can companies possible hope to mitigate these kinds of risk.

It is an old axiom that failing to plan is tantamount to planning to fail. In this context, planning should be a formal activity of every migration project, with a formal and on-going deliverable known as the migration plan.

Migration plans are only as good as the effort put into them and the accuracy of the scope which they are fed by. Accurate quantification of source environments, labs which approximate live environments, and a sample of representative user data are all prerequisites to ensuring a migration plan has the best possible chance of succeeding.  In fairness, most of us don’t migrate for a living, so it’s not unreasonable to expect not knowing where to start. Here we will offer two suggestions:

Follow the military approach to planning by starting with the end goal in mind, and working backwards through every objective until the base understanding of the requirement is defined, without knowing how to solve every objective or process requirement. The end goal must be a clearly defined business or technical requirement. Follow up by adding process planning for each stage, known or unknown, and add technology choices last, so that technology becomes the enabler to the process, and not the other way around.

Migrations are epitomised by environments in flux. Flux is risky and is mitigates by process, planning and management. Migration planning as an on-going exercise as well as a living document is a foundation stone in the on-going exercise to mitigating on-going risk.