My last three posts laying out a brief history of User Defined Field Patterns past, present, and future. This post lays out a framework for migrating. If your CRM is using the Relational or NoSql pattern and you’re ready to move to the more efficient, cheaper, and simpler future, this is the post for you!
Before going into how to migrate, a reminder of my philosophy:
- Minimize risk by taking small incremental steps
- Focus on providing value to the customer
There are many ways to migrate from one pattern to another. This strategy will minimize risk and maximize customer value.
Step 1 - Extend Your Relational Database
The Relational and NoSql patterns make use of a relational database.
Step 1 is to add a JSON column to your existing contacts column.
Your new schema should look like one of these two models
That’s it - deploy an additive schema update to your database. Since there’s no code to access the new columns, there’s no coordinated deployment. Just the regular, minimal, risk of updating your database.
Step 2 - Query The New Schema
Now that the new schema is in production, it is time to extend your query code.
Add a new code path that checks to see if any data is present in the new schema. If there is data available, execute the query using the new JSON column. When there’s no data, use the original query method.
You will need to develop this code hand-in-hand with the code for migrating the data from your original system to the new schema. The important piece is that you should always be deploying with the READER code on, WRITER code off.
When you deploy this code, there won’t be any data in the JSON column. The new code will be available, but unused.
Since the new code won’t be used, this step is also extremely low risk.
Step 3 - Double Write
At this point your system will use the new schema whenever data is present.
This gives you a single switch to flip - to use the new system, start writing to the new column IN ADDITION to the original method.
Mistakes at this step are the most likely to cause customer impact! It is also the most expensive in time and resources because you are writing the data twice.
However, this also gives you a very quick fallback path. The original writing process is untouched!
If there’s a problem, turn off the double write and delete the data in the new column. Thanks to the work in Step 2 you’ll instantly fall back with NO DATA loss.
Migrations are hard! Preventing data loss minimizes the risk.
Step 4 - Only Hybrid Write
The final step is to stop writing to the original data store. This ends your ability to fall back so make sure to confiscate copies of the data deleter from Step 3!
Ending the double write should be low risk because you were only doing it as a fallback at this point. You should see an immediate bump in performance and drop in costs. This trend will continue as the data migrates from the old system to the new.
Step 5 - Clean Up
At some point you’ll be ready to shut down the old system.
The last step is to decide what to do with the unmigrated data. Depending on how long you’ve waited you’re looking at customer data that hasn’t been accessed in months. Look at your retention promises; maybe you don’t have to migrate the data at all.
Either way, clean it up and shut down the old system at your leisure.
You can migrate User Defined Field code to the latest pattern with very little risk by using the 5 step strategy laid out in this article.
The Hybrid Solution offers excellent scalability and performance for reasonable costs. If your CRM is using one of the earlier patterns, it is time to start migrating.
Take control of the process with small, low risk, steps and never rewrite!