Moving your website to a new portal is comparable to moving into a new home. It takes a lot of time, planning, effort — and always proves harder than you expect. 

You have to clean up beforehand and make decisions about what you really need to take with you. You want the move itself to go as efficiently as possible. You want to make sure the movers don’t miss any of your things (like, say, your data).

You need a compatibility plan for older items: just as an antique sofa might go from a parlor to a modern living room and the locations of tables and chairs need to be reconfigured in the new space, your legacy data needs a new place within your modern portal’s framework.

You’ll have to figure out how to keep your current system running smoothly during the move. And you’ll want to make a list of everything to be done, so you don’t miss anything. Since there’s often quite a bit of confusion around portal migration, here are some key considerations when you’re ready to take the plunge.


Deep Questions to Consider

How will you move your data?

The biggest question in your migration story is in determining how to transfer your data to the new portal. It’s a great advantage if your new portal has an open framework and API. Having an API or web services-based method for getting your legacy data makes the act of carrying out the transfer much less complex. Otherwise, you’ll need either direct access to the database or an export format, which can require a greater time investment in the discovery phase, as well as more technical expertise.

In some cases, your new portal may have a plug-in designed for the specific system from which you are migrating. Often though, even if there’s no official plug-in, members of a portal’s community have created 3rd party plug-ins and tools to migrate content.

It’s also possible to have plug-ins tailored to your requirements. Depending on your situation, you may decide you want to keep some, but not all of your data. For example you may want to keep the content of all your blog posts but only some of the associated metadata and tailoring. A customized plug-in can accommodate preferences like this.

What data do you have? What data do you need? Where should it all go?

You’ll need to do an inventory analysis to choose which parts of your current data you want to keep. This may include CMS, blogs, message board forums, application data and other web content. Plan out in detail the configuration of the data in the new portal, the same way you might sketch out the positioning of furniture in a new home so you know what to tell the movers.

Do a discovery and gap analysis to make sure you have all the data you want. Just as in a home, you may have cases where 1-to-1 mapping isn’t possible, and you’ll have to move disparate pieces to new locations in the new portal’s data structure. Once the discovery is initiated and gap analysis is completed, your team can outline and map out every single call that must be made to the portal’s service layer. After creating a complete checklist of all of the data that must be included in the migration (and all the calls to be done), you’ll be ready to move without missing anything.

Make a timeline for the move

Make a timeline for completion to help you itemize migration tasks beyond just the data. Your timeline should now probably look something like this:

  • Discovery and gap analysis.
  • Data mapping and development.
  • Testing.
  • Backup. Make sure your data is safe in case of unforeseen issues.
  • Migration dry run. Doing a dry run will give you safety from bugs or data corruption, and inform you on what to expect as far as your migration’s timetable and further planning.
  • Roll-back process and contingency plan. You must know how to return to your backup. Do a test and dry run of this.
  • Content freeze. You’ll need to halt the adding of new content to your site so that you can make the move without missing any new additions.
  • Full migration of production.
  • User acceptance window and sign off. Have a period of testing where your stakeholders can try the site on the new platform and confirm all data is intact. Include buffer time in case fixes need to be done.

With good planning and careful attention to the processes of migrating your data, you can ensure a seamless transfer between portals, and have a happy housewarming in your website’s new home.

Title image by John Benson  (Flickr) via a CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 license.