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Five AWS data migration methods to consider

Data migration can be challenging, whether moving from on premises to cloud environments or vice versa. But these AWS techniques ease that process.

More enterprises are looking to store data in the public cloud, often at a fraction of the cost of on-premises...

storage. But transferring that data to the cloud isn't always straightforward, especially when it involves moving bulk data, such as databases. AWS offers a range of data migration methods designed to ease transfers.

The simple method of transferring data to AWS from an on-premises data center is via the Internet using an FTP server or something similar. While this method is free, it relies on the public connection to handle large amounts of data even before taking latency and congestion into consideration. Below are five data migration methods for enterprises to move storage to AWS.

1. AWS Direct Connect

AWS Direct Connect is a dedicated direct network tunnel that connects the enterprise to the AWS environment. This is a secure, consistent and fast method that uses a private connection; AWS Direct Connect is primarily used to build hybrid cloud deployments. However, this method can be expensive -- running about $0.03 per port, per hour.

2. Mailing a hard drive to AWS

This option may sound old fashioned, but many enterprises use it because it's relatively quick and dependable. After the IT team transfers enterprise data to a hard drive, they send it via a mail delivery service to Amazon. From then, AWS handles the actual data transfer process. AWS charges about $80 per volume (1 TB), with an added hourly download fee of $2.50. 

3. AWS Snowball

The AWS Snowball appliance is a petabyte-scale data transfer tool. Enterprises start a Snowball job on the AWS portal, and AWS mails out a physical appliance; IT teams then transfer data onto the device before shipping it back to AWS. The appliance is encrypted and rugged in a tamper-resistant enclosure. This option costs $200, no matter how much data you need to transfer.

4. AWS Database Migration Service

The AWS Database Migration Service is a tool that allows enterprises to move databases within homogeneous migrations, such as from Oracle to Oracle. But the service also enables heterogeneous migrations across database platforms, such as from Oracle to Amazon Aurora, from Oracle to MySQL or from Oracle to Amazon Relational Database Service

It takes about 10 to 15 minutes to set up the tool. Migration costs start at $3.00 for a 1 TB database; only compute resources need to be covered during the migration process.

5. Schema Conversion Tool

Databases are complex pieces of software. Migrating a database between hosts, as well as between engines, can be a major headache due to different schemas and locks that applications have on native databases. However, the free AWS Schema Conversion Tool converts the source database schema and code into a format that is compatible with the target database.

The AWS Database Migration Service works with all of the widely used databases and, according to AWS, is extremely reliable. If the service encounters an issue that it cannot resolve by itself, it will notify an administrator with details. Downtime with the tool should be minimal, because all data changes made to the source database during migration are continuously replicated to the target. Therefore, the source database remains fully functional throughout the whole process.

Properly moving any application to the public cloud and ensuring it performs the same as it did on premises is never easy. It requires IT teams to closely follow an established set of best practices. These AWS data migration methods can help enterprises continuously migrate data in and out of the cloud, and build a hybrid environment in which data centers are widely scattered.

Next Steps

AWS unveils new cloud migration tools

Can proprietary databases securely migrate to the cloud?

AWS, VMware face hybrid cloud migration challenges

This was last published in December 2015

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An admin's guide to AWS data management

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