Keeping your data on-prem is associated with exorbitant costs and risks. Running on Cloud is more cost-efficient and safe, as you can always back up your data in case of disaster. However, the migration process is time-consuming and complex, requiring strong technical expertise on the part of your migration partner. 

The migration process would often leave your database down for days, weeks, or even months, which can disrupt business operations. It gets even more complicated and resource-heavy if you need to record and convert the existing data for a new type of database. Add zero error tolerance on top of that, and you’ll be facing an enormous challenge.

There must be a better way. 

AWS Database Migration Service (AWS DMS) is a safer, faster, and simpler way to migrate your data. DMS allows for the original database to stay functional while taking care of code conversion and migration assessment. However, this process still requires strong expertise on the part of your technology partner. That is why it is especially critical to partner with a reliable team that can apply the AWS DMS the right way providing smooth and seamless migration. 

What is AWS DMS and how does it work?

Running an on-prem database causes redundant spending and maintenance overheads. This pushes businesses toward cloud migration that provides several major benefits: 

  • Flexible and predictable costs;
  • Long-term cost saving;
  • High levels of security.

DMS is a solution designed specifically for transferring data between source and target data stores. These data storages, referred to as endpoints, can be of the same or different database engines. For instance, you can migrate data from an Oracle database to another Oracle database or even to PostgreSQL. It is important to note that at least one of the endpoints must be hosted on an AWS service.

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What challenges of database migration does AWS DMS solve? 

AWS database migration addresses several challenges associated with database migration, including:

  1. Complexity: Database migration is complex and time-consuming, especially when you deal with large datasets and diverse database engines. The service simplifies the migration process by reducing the complexity and effort required.
  2. Lack of data integrity and consistency: DMS employs robust mechanisms to maintain data integrity, such as using transaction logs, Change Data Capture (CDC) design patterns, and validation checks to capture and replicate changes accurately from the source to the target database.
  3. Downtime and impact on business operations: Traditional database migration methods often require significant downtime, leading to disruptions in business operations. DMS minimizes downtime by enabling real-time data replication to migrate databases with minimal disruption. It performs continuous replication, capturing and migrating data changes as they occur, reducing the impact on business operations.
  4. Heterogeneous database migration: Migrating data between different database engines can pose significant challenges due to differences in schema structures (a collection of facets that define and organize the objects within a directory), data types, and functionality. DMS provides schema conversion capabilities, automatically converting source schemas to the target engine's format, reducing the effort required for manual conversions, and increasing compatibility between different database engines.
  5. Problems with scalability and flexibility: The service offers scalability and flexibility to accommodate the varying needs of businesses. It enables parallel data migration, which allows for the use of the old database while the new one is being set up. This helps with the seamless migration of large datasets. 

Read more: 7 risks in cloud migration and how to avoid them

3 major steps for the successful use of AWS DMS 

An experienced AWS Database Migration Services partner approaches migration in a systematic and predictable way. Though AWS itself provides a specific mainframe for the migration process, each business case is unique, so playing it by the book is rarely the best option. 

N-iX has the experience and expertise that allows us to modify and adapt the existing AWS mainframes to the needs of your business. All the while, we do not disrupt the process as a whole and follow the most efficient course of action. 

1. Assessment of the existing database

First and most importantly, the experts must assess the existing database, the scope of data, and its schema. During that stage, N-iX experts will define whether it is feasible to migrate your existing on-prem database as is. If not, the team will introduce the necessary changes to the database schema.

At this point, the team will also define the migration strategy, and there are several options: 

  • Replatform 

This migration approach is commonly referred to as lift, tinker, and shift or lift and reshape. It involves transferring the application to the cloud while incorporating optimizations to enhance operational efficiency, leverage cloud-specific capabilities, or cost reduction. For instance, a Microsoft SQL Server database could be re-platformed to Amazon RDS for SQL Server.

  • Rehost

Rehosting or lift and shift, involves transferring applications from the source environment to the AWS Cloud without making any modifications to the application itself. For instance, you can migrate your entire application stack from an on-premises environment to the AWS Cloud.

With the rehosting approach, you can seamlessly migrate a large number of machines from various source platforms, including physical, virtual, or other cloud environments, to the AWS Cloud. This migration process alleviates concerns regarding compatibility, performance disruptions, lengthy cutover periods, or distant data replications.

While this strategy does not incorporate specific cloud optimizations that could potentially save time or costs, it allows you to quickly scale your applications. Furthermore, running applications in the cloud makes them more accessible for optimization or re-architecting, as it becomes easier to integrate with AWS services and manage workloads.

  • Refactor or re-architect

By implementing this strategy, you migrate an application to the cloud and redesign its architecture to leverage the full range of cloud-native features. This approach allows you to enhance agility, improve performance, and achieve scalability that aligns with strong business demands. The primary objectives are to scale operations, expedite product and feature launches, and drive cost-reduction efforts.

  • Relocate

By employing the relocation strategy, it becomes feasible to migrate a substantial number of servers, encompassing one or more applications, from an on-premises platform to its cloud-based counterpart simultaneously. Moreover, this strategy allows for the movement of instances or objects to a different virtual private cloud (VPC), AWS Region, or AWS account. For instance, you can utilize the relocation strategy to transfer servers in bulk from a VMware software-defined data center (SSDC) to VMware Cloud on AWS or relocate an Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS) DB instance to another VPC or AWS account.

Notably, the relocation strategy eliminates the need for procuring new hardware, rewriting applications, or modifying existing operations. Throughout the relocation process, the application remains functional, ensuring minimal disruption and downtime. This approach offers the swiftest means of migrating and operating workloads in the cloud, as it does not impact the overall architecture of the application.

Cloud migration strategies AWS DMS

There are other strategies to choose from, but the ones above are among the most commonly used. Upon assessing the existing database and picking the right strategy, the experts can approach the migration itself. The migration will be run based on your needs and the specifics of your existing database.

2. Database migration

The DMS experts at N-iX run your migration in either of the two possible ways. It is essential for us to always give our clients a choice and provide justification for choosing one way or the other. Since each business is unique and has a different mode of operation, we have to select the fitting migration approach. Here are two methods we use to migrate data in different business cases:

Zero downtime migration. This is a more complicated yet preferable way to migrate databases for most businesses that deal with large amounts of real-time data. The team replicates all the records that have been added and processed in the database and loads the data in the background. Such strategies as rehosting fit this type of migration best.

Throughout the migration process, the production database remains fully operational, ensuring uninterrupted access to data. All modifications made to the production database are continuously replicated to the target database in real time. Once the migration procedure is successfully executed, the option to maintain this continuous replication exists, providing the flexibility to switch databases at the most suitable and opportune time.

What you get is a seamless migration that runs in the background while your system remains fully operational. Businesses that rely on real-time data won’t have to worry about downtimes while migration occurs. What it means is that you won’t be losing business throughout the migration. 

Data migration with downtime. Using this method, you would be experiencing downtimes throughout the migration process. But some businesses can actually benefit from this option. Let’s say you update your database once a month, and your users have access to it in the reading mode only. In that case, we do not need to go through the replication process, we just migrate your database between the updates. Our experts will stop all the processes running in your database and migrate it to the cloud as is. 

This approach might be a preferable option for businesses that do not deal with large amounts of real-time data. Here at N-iX, we know that there’s no silver bullet that fits each migration case, and thus we choose the approach that would achieve your needs in the most efficient manner.

3. User acceptance testing

The migration is not over just yet. We have to test the results and make sure everything runs as supposed. N-iX experts help your internal users get on the same page and use the new database to its full potential. 

While this is an often overlooked stage, it is absolutely vital for the long-term success of the migration. Different databases have unique sets of features, and the same goes for AWS DMS. That is exactly why your vendor must help your users get accustomed to the new features. As a reliable AWS database migration partner, N-iX also conducts ongoing maintenance for your database. 

Going through these three stages is vital for the success of the AWS database migration. N-iX is an AWS database migration services partner that can support you from the moment you decide to conduct the migration and up to the user acceptance testing. Our team will make sure the migration is properly planned and executed.

Read more: Azure vs AWS: Choose the best platform for cloud migration

Success story of AWS database migration with cleverbridge

As a comprehensive e-commerce provider, cleverbridge is constantly seeking solutions to fulfill every customer requirement. To meet the demands of their largest client, cleverbridge initiated efforts to enhance their analytics solution and sought assistance from a technology partner with relevant expertise. The primary objective was to upgrade the existing tool that generates reports on client subscriptions, such as revenue and the number of new customers, while also incorporating visually engaging and informative data to complement the reports.

Our team successfully leveraged AWS DMS to extract data from the client's on-premise Oracle database in near-real-time mode. This approach enabled our experts to promptly receive Change Data Capture (CDC) data and construct upstream tables based on all the changes that occurred. Additionally, we utilized the Dynamics 365 REST API to retrieve data from the already implemented Dynamics 365, which served as a secondary data source.

To facilitate data management, all the extracted data is transferred to AWS S3, where it undergoes a three-layer process: bronze (raw data ingestion), silver (filtered, cleaned, and transformed data), and gold (business-level aggregates). Apache Spark, an advanced analytics engine, is utilized for seamless data movement between these layers. Data from the business layer is also migrated to Snowflake, a robust data warehouse solution, where it can be accessed for further analysis and served to Power BI. Our experts leverage their extensive knowledge in Power BI to create insightful Business Intelligence reports for the benefit of cleverbridge's clients.

Furthermore, our team played a vital role in enhancing cleverbridge's data security by implementing effective data governance. This data governance framework is divided into two parts: one based on AWS and the other on Snowflake, ensuring comprehensive protection and compliance measures are in place.

Why choose N-iX as your AWS database migration services provider?

  • As an AWS partner, our comprehensive service offering covers every aspect of your AWS Cloud journey, from the development of a robust cloud strategy to on-demand implementation and ongoing maintenance. 
  • With a talent pool of over 2,200 specialists, N-iX boasts a dedicated team of more than 200 data experts who are well-equipped to tackle any challenges associated with AWS DMS. 
  • Our team has successfully delivered numerous projects for global enterprises, including cleverbridge, Fluke, and Gogo.
  • N-iX places great emphasis on compliance with regulations and industry standards, ensuring that data management practices align with GDPR, PCI/DSS, ISO27001, ISO9001, and ISO 27001:2013 requirements. 
  • Our experts use the AWS migration mainframes and adapt them to the unique case of each particular client. That way, we can deliver a truly custom service and achieve the goals of each project.

Have a question?

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N-iX Staff
Rostyslav Fedynyshyn
Head of Data and Analytics Practice

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