Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Business trips and database migrations

As you might have guessed I have been travelling and I am going to travel again. Every business trip brings some risks and has associated costs, but each one also has its opportunities or specific goals. Many of my business trips are related to database migration projects, enabling customers or business partners to move from Oracle to DB2.

Depending on the trip destination there is more or less risk associated. There could be accidents, health issues, robbery or mugging, the risk of loosing your luggage, and of course of not getting enough sleep. To mitigate some of the risks, preparation is key, first of them knowing about the involved risks, what to watch out for. Often, you can benefit from the experience of others, e.g., reading a travel guide, reading hotel reviews, etc.

In terms of costs, usually there is a rough estimate based on data that can be quickly gathered and some travel experience. It helps to decide whether it is worth travelling. Would someone spend 5000 EUR for a 1000 EUR opportunity? What brings the trip in the long run?

Migration projects are similar to business trips. There are costs associated, there are risks, but also a benefit. Companies migrate from Oracle to DB2 because they want to save money, perform better, simplify their data centers and reduce the server and storage footprint, grow their businesses, enjoy competitive advantages, benefit from technology advances, or any combination of these. So they look into what it costs to get there and turn to IBM. Based on data that can be quickly gathered and migration experiences, a decision to move forward and to look into details can be made - similar to a business trip. Tools like MEET allow to analyse the level of compatibility and to quickly give an overview of problems. Experience with Oracle to DB2 migration projects, big and small, allows to attach costs to the issues found. A proof of concept allows to gain experience, similar to some business trips in a controlled environment to validate assumptions and to build up a portfolio of hotel and airline reviews, and to train the business travellers.

And finally comes the decision to embark, to start the journey. There are risks, but there are also best practices that can be followed and tour guides that can help if needed. As with business trips, there are tour reports of others: Coca-Cola about moving from Oracle to DB2 at the IOD conference in October, customers talking at the IDUG conferences about their migration projects, blog posts detailing why projects succeeded and lessons learned.

At some point everybody faces the question the first time: Do I want to travel? Especially for migration projects it is an unusual question that might only come up once and not everybody feels comfortable with. It might be similar to the first trip to a foreign country. But then there are resources to help and to assist with the decision and along the journey.