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Migration Conversation: 4 Vital Questions to Ask to Ensure a Successful Postgres Migration

Matthew Lewandowski10/21/2022
PostgreSQL

These insights come from the EDB Oracle Migration webinar series, which can be watched in full, on-demand.

So, you’re considering leaving Oracle for Postgres—smart move. In the last few years, more and more businesses have grown tired of the restrictive licensing, unpredictable pricing and general inflexibility that legacy proprietary database management systems (DBMS) impose on them, and have—instead—sought out the dynamic, modern and ever-growing potential that Postgres offers.

In order to fully harness all of that potential, however, it’s important to start thinking about the process of migration as early as possible. Ensuring a successful move from Oracle to Postgres starts long before your data starts leaving the Oracle environment. Even while you’re still finalizing your decision, it’s essential to work with leadership and users across teams, so that everyone understands what migration will look like and how it will affect them.

This might sound daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. As long as you know what to ask yourself, you’ll be able to plan your ideal migration and anticipate any challenges.

This is why we’ve compiled a list of some of the most critical questions your IT team should consider, derived from our years of working with both the Postgres development community and the success stories of the businesses we’ve helped migrate. These questions will govern how you move your most vital assets and, ultimately, how you leverage Postgres once you’ve migrated. 

1) How do I get buy-in?

This is the very first step for a successful migration: ensuring that everyone is onboard with the project, that they feel supported in their roles and that their concerns are addressed and discussed. Buy-in is what lays the foundation for your organization to make use of Postgres once migration is complete and it must come both from everyone.

For leadership, this means clearly communicating both the benefits of the migration—cost-savings, increased innovation—and proactively addressing any concerns, regarding downtime issues or discontinuity between the old and new environments. While leadership may not need you to get too far into the technical weeds, they will be expecting clear planning for what can seem like a disruptive project. 

Similarly, when discussing migration with users across teams, it will be important to anticipate what their concerns might be. Developers may be curious about how migration will affect their ongoing processes. Architects might be worried that a move will totally upend the database infrastructure. DBAs will want to know exactly what the migration process will look like, and what they’ll have to prepare for. Because you’ve been working with Oracle for an extended period, leaving it for another environment can generate anxiety—even among those who were frustrated with your old infrastructure. Change at this scale is a big deal, especially for those who may feel like they’re outside the decision-making process. Providing resources for training and education will not only put your users at ease, but prepare them to take full advantage of your new Postgres DBMS from day one!

 

2) What order should I move my data and code in?

Now, it’s time to start thinking about the process of migration itself. When you’re envisioning what a potential Oracle-to-Postgres migration might look like, a key consideration is the order in which you migrate your assets. If certain items are moved before others, once your migration is complete, you’ll find that certain code doesn’t work, vital applications are struggling and vital personnel don’t have access to what they need. You don’t want to put the cart before the horse—or, in our case, the APIs before the DB schema.

In our experience, all of these issues can be avoided by following a simple 3-stage migration map:

  1. Database schema, database code objects, and data
  2. Interfaces and applications
  3. Reports and management tools

With this project outline, IT can communicate with DBAs and other necessary teams to make sure everyone knows what is being moved when, and can prepare accordingly.

EDB has developed a range of tools like the Migration Portal, Migration Toolkit and EDB Postgres Replication Server (EPRS) to help you move everything from Oracle to EDB Postgres Advanced Server in the correct order without undue manual work from your teams. These solutions are built on our years of experience helping businesses migrate to Postgres with the goal of making the process as easy and painless as possible. 

 

3) How do I limit downtime during migration?

Outlining the order of your migration promises a successful outcome, but you also need to be certain that your business remains operational throughout the process—which can take a few months depending on the size of your database.

In our experience, the question of downtime is one of the most commonly raised, especially among developers. These team members fear that they’ll lose access to the assets they need to do their jobs, that their projects will stall out. Since you can’t just move 4 TB of complex data by snapping your fingers, how can you guarantee that applications will work while so much essential data is in transit?

While the answer to this question can change somewhat depending on the migration strategy you take, with the proper tools, no one will have to worry about downtime disruptions.

Enter a change data capture (CDC) based approach to data migration. Using a CDC approach you make a copy of all your data to migrate and then apply all the changes that have been made to the initial data over the period of time the migration took to the data now in your new environment. The result is a zero downtime migration that ensures your mission-critical processes can continue as though nothing was happening. You can perform CDC data migration using EDB’s own Replication Server.

 

4) Do I want to do this alone?

In many of the previous sections, we’ve mentioned EDB solutions designed to facilitate the ideal Oracle-to-Postgres migration. However, when assessing your approach to a migration project, it’s not just software that can come in handy.

Working with a Postgres expert like EDB—whether you’re using open source or enterprise Postgres—can make all the difference both in migration and in your ongoing success. We’ve helped numerous businesses deploy Postgres and plan and monitor their transformation projects. As a result, they’ve been able to free up IT and operations to work closely with your internal team, rather than devoting resources and time to correcting an error that an expert in your chosen database is better qualified to take on.

The potential of Postgres is astounding and only continues to grow. Having a partner to help you migrate can make sure you experience all the benefits that convinced you to leave Oracle to begin with.

 

Asking these questions will guarantee your migration success

Leaving Oracle for Postgres is one of the most transformative decisions a business can make—especially if they’re invested in building and maintaining truly modern applications. At EDB, we’ve been lucky enough to see this firsthand, and our work with enterprises of all sizes has helped us better understand the needs, challenges, concerns and opportunities that come with migration.

These questions are the result of that—gleaned from the success of organizations just like yours. By asking these, your IT team will be in the best possible position long before day one of your migration, and every member of your business will be just as excited about the Postgres future as you are.

 

Want a more in-depth look at how to ensure a successful Postgres migration? Read our eBook “7 Critical Success Factors for Moving to Open Source Databases (like Postgres).”

Matthew Lewandowski is a Field CTO at EDB, working in the CTO organization. In this role, Matt works with enterprise level customers to understand their database needs and provide them guidance on how PostgreSQL and EDB's related capabilities can be used to meet these needs. Matt has been with EDB s ...