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Database management

Top Challenges When Looking to Migrate Oracle Database to Open Source

Modern enterprises today have more data than they would have ever imagined. What with the rising number of connected devices that are perennially increasing every day. From smart cars, smart televisions, smart homes, etc. to a host of monitoring platforms and core enterprise apps like CRMs and ERPs, data is being generated all the time. This data is usually stored in extensive data lakes and disparate siloed on-premise and cloud databases that make it difficult for enterprises to use it effectively for getting actionable insights. 

Enterprises wanting to make the most of this data often choose to migrate databases from one platform to another. In fact, there could be several reasons for this move. They may want the features and functionality that come with the new platform or may be looking for ways to curtail costs. Modern enterprises are more inclined to move their databases to open source for the stability and security it offers. MySQL, MariaDB, and PostgreSQL are some of the popular choices when it comes to migrating to open source. 

According to Gartner, “By 2022, more than 70 percent of new in-house applications will be developed on an open-source database management system (OSDBMS), and 50 percent of existing commercial relational database management system (RDBMS) instances will have been converted or will be in process of converting.”

While many have been enticed by the cost of license and ownership, others have often wondered about the stability of the open source environment. Simply wanting it because it’s supposedly free should not be the only reason to choose open source because there will be a price to pay when you consider the man hours required to complete the migration. 

Simply put, the smoother the transition, the lower will be your time and money investments into a project. Having said that, the truth is that database migrations bring along unique challenges when you choose to migrate Oracle databases to open source. To understand these challenges well, let’s first look into why enterprises choose to migrate to open source.

Why migrate to open source

Open source tools are popular for the reliability, security, flexibility, and compliance they offer to enterprises. No doubt it’s hard to find software devoid of security vulnerabilities, but open-source allows users to discover bugs, and audit and rectify them immediately. Open source databases come with features that help users from all fields operate easily without necessitating special skills. 

As compared to proprietary solutions, open source is highly cost-effective.  Some vendors may offer the base functionality for free while asking you to pay more for advanced features by way of upfront costs or subscription-based support contracts. Choosing the right vendor therefore should be an important consideration as part of your migration plan. 

Open source databases undergo continuous phases of innovation and integration that empower them to stay ahead of the competition. Open source database software or fully managed DBaaS platforms are growing in popularity across the globe. Once you get past the initial challenges, working with open source databases always leads to ease and simplicity.

The migration challenges

Being open for everyone to use, open source facilitates greater collaboration across domains and geographies. 

As  Sarah Novotny, Microsoft’s open source lead, writes in a recent blog post, “a few years ago if you wanted to get several large tech companies together to align on a software initiative, establish open standards, or agree on a policy, it would often require several months of negotiation, meetings, debate, back and forth with lawyers…” adding that “open source has completely changed this: it has become an industry-accepted model for cross-company collaboration.”

Open source typically comprises key-value databases, document databases, and wide-column store databases. While Microsoft strongly recommends enterprises embrace it in this new era of remote working, you need to tide over a few challenges before you migrate to open source. Some of the most common ones include:

Transitioning disparate databases

It would have been so much easier if you could simply replace the existing databases with open source counterparts like a drop-in replacement. But that’s hardly ever the case and new software will not magically start working like the old one due to the disparity among databases. Since data comes from diverse sources, the first challenge is to identify disparate databases that exist within the source environment and then figure out a way to normalize data and convert schemas.

Creating a migration plan

Your migration goals would mean nothing without a plan. While you may be tempted to finish the migration in one go, you need to get smart about migration. Experts would recommend you to plan it in stages where the first stage will direct new database implementations to open source while the second stage will require you to look into factors like budget allocation, timelines, available human resources, etc. required to execute the migration.

The incompatibilities behind database products are the reason why this kind of assessment is required before you begin migration. Varying levels of migration, conversion, and refactoring are impossible feats to achieve unless you are willing to closely review the risk, cost, complexity, and compatibility associated with database transitions.

Cleansing and coding data

The complexities seem never-ending due to the fact that data from different sources exists in different formats. All the structured and unstructured data, therefore, has to be cleansed, normalized, or transformed before you can review it along with data acquired from other sources. This will help rule out any discrepancies that may arise while moving data from one relational database to another.

Securing data

While migrating data, it is important that you do not expose your environment to any kind of risk. The right protocols need to be adhered to and every effort must be made to ensure sensitive data or high-value intellectual property is not compromised at any cost. Failing to do so might lead to customer churn, exorbitant fines, and even lawsuits that can be harmful to the reputation of your company.

Final Steps

Now that you have done your research and identified the challenges, it’s important for you to build the schema and begin the migration process. Schema is nothing but a blueprint that helps you decide how you would want to structure the databases so that the structure is well aligned with the new database. At this stage, you will be assessing the types of database objects, creating tables, and defining programming code such as stored procedures and database triggers as required.  

You may require scripting and tools like ETL to move the data. You should be able to review the applications based on their criticality. The duration of data migration depends on the size of the database and the available system resources. During migration, some applications may be down for a few minutes. But depending on the nature of your business, you may be so dependent on some applications that downtime of even a second may be detrimental. 

Teams may have to perform reporting tests within the destination system to validate the performance before going for migration. This is an important step that’s necessary to safeguard enterprises from downtimes and data incompatibility between source and destination databases.

Database migration can be truly considered successful only when you ensure that data was moved correctly, there were no missing or null values, and it was completely valid. Random testing may be necessary at this point to ensure that the migrated data is accurate and does not contain anomalies.

Migrate with MiCore

At MiCore, our highly competent team of experts can help you migrate to open source to adapt to the changing needs of your business. Our in-depth knowledge can help you architect, optimize and manage your source database environment to empower you with greater efficiency for better performance. You can expect a full lifecycle service and support if you are facing a skills gap to manage your new database environment successfully. 

Call us today to book a consultation. We can bring your migration plans up to speed.

About Author

Kent Kofman

He is a Principal & Leader at MiCORE Solutions Inc, having 12+ years of extensive experience in Database managed solutions, Proprietary and open-source database implementations and migrations, Cloud migration and management, Multi-cloud, hybrid cloud expertise, Cloud integration services and Specialists in Oracle licensing. He is fortunate to lead a purpose-built organization full of strong, passionate, committed associates to enable Business solutions for organizations by providing managed services and consulting services to help our customers make better business decisions.

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