Understanding Data Migration Testing:
It is common to hear that software applications are being shifted to other servers, undergoing technical alterations, being upgraded to the latest edition, or being relocated to a new database server, among various other circumstances.
- But what does all this imply?
- What are the expectations from the testing team in these situations?
From a test perspective, it means that the software needs an extensive end-to-end examination, which includes the successful transition from the current system to the upgraded system.
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In this situation, it is imperative to carry out system testing utilizing all the data from the old application as well as the new data. Existing functionalities and new or altered features must be validated.
In addition to migration testing, it can also be termed as data migration testing. Here, the entire user data is transferred to a new system.
Hence, migration testing comprises of testing with old data, new data, a combination of both, and examining old features (unchanged) and new features.
The old application is generally referred to as the ‘legacy’ application. Testing needs to be sustained for the legacy application alongside the testing of the new or upgraded application until the new or upgraded version becomes stable and reliable. Extensive migration assessments on the new software will uncover new issues that were not detected in the legacy system.
- What is Migration Testing?
- Why perform Migration Testing?
- When is this Testing Necessary?
- Data Migration Testing Approach
- Different Stages of Migration
- Backward Compatibility Testing
- Rollback Testing
- Migration Test Final Report
- Difficulties in Data Migration Testing
- Suggestions to Lower Data Migration Risks
- Final Thoughts
What is Migration Testing?
Migration Testing is a validation process that guarantees the smooth transition of the legacy system to an advanced system with minor disturbances and no downtime. It confirms data precision, the absence of data loss, and that every functional and non-functional facet of the application meets the standards after the shift.
Visual Illustration of a Migration System:
Why perform Migration Testing?
When an application is transferred to a new system, it could be due to a variety of reasons, such as system amalgamation, obsolete technology, optimization, and other factors.
Consequently, when transitioning the current system to a new one, it is crucial to ensure the following:
- Avoid or lessen any disturbance or inconvenience caused to users due to migration, such as downtime or loss of data.
- Confirm that the user can continue to exploit all the software features with minimal or no damage during the shift, such as changes in functionality.
- Predict and eliminate any potential glitches or obstructions that might arise during the actual transfer of the live system.
Therefore, to ensure a seamless transition of the live system by identifying defects, it is vital to perform Migration Testing in a lab environment.
This testing is significant and occupies a prominent role when data is involved in the migration process.
Precisely, it is also mandatory to execute for the following reasons:
- Assure the compatibility of the new or upgraded application with every potential hardware and software supported by the legacy application. Also, test the compatibility of the new hardware and software platforms.
- Guarantee that all existing functions operate as they did in the legacy application. There should not be any alterations in the software operation compared to the legacy version.
- Discover and rectify any defects linked to data that may surface during the transition process. These defects can give rise to numerous issues and impact data integrity.
- Verify that the system response time of the new or upgraded application is comparable or superior to the legacy application.
- Ensure that the connection among servers, hardware, and software elements is unbroken and doesn’t disrupt during testing. Data flow between different elements must not be disrupted under any circumstances.
When is this Testing Needed?
Examinations need to be conducted before and after the transition.
The distinct stages of Migration testing to be executed within the Test Lab can be categorized as:
- Initial Migration Testing
- Migration Testing
- Post-Migration Testing
In addition to the above, the following assessments are also conducted as part of the entire Migration activity:
- Verification of Backward Compatibility
- Rollback Testing
Prior to executing this Testing, it is crucial for any Tester to have a clear understanding of the following:
- The changes occurring as part of the new system, such as server, front end, database, schema, data flow, or changes in functionality.
- The precise migration strategy outlined by the team, including the step-by-step adjustments in the system’s backend and the scripts executed for these adjustments.
Therefore, it is essential to meticulously study the old and new systems, and subsequently plan and design the test cases and test scenarios to be encompassed in the testing stages accordingly. Build the testing strategy based on this analysis.
Data Migration Testing Approach
Designing the examination strategy for migration comprises a sequence of operations to be performed and a few aspects to be taken into account. This is to assure minimal errors and risks during migration testing and effective migration testing.
The operations involved in this Testing include:
#1) Formation of a specialized team:
Construct a testing team composed of members possessing the needed knowledge and experience, and provide training related to the system being migrated.
#2) Analysis of business risk and anticipated errors:
Conduct ‘Business Risk Analysis’ meetings with the necessary stakeholders (Test Manager, Business Analysts, Architects, Product Owners, Business Owners, etc.) to recognize risks, implement countermeasures, and assure business continuity post migration. Identify scenarios that discover these risks and validate the implementation of mitigations during testing.
Perform ‘Anticipated Error Analysis’ employing suitable ‘Error Guessing Approaches’ and design examinations around these errors to identify them during testing.
#3) Analysis and identification of migration scope:
Analyze the precise scope of the migration test, including what needs to be examined, when, and how.
#4) Identification of suitable Migration Tool:
Identify the tools to be employed for migration testing, either automated or manual. For example, an automated tool can be used for comparing source and destination data.
#5) Identification of suitable Test Environment for Migration:
Identify separate environments for pre- and post-migration testing. Understand and document the technical aspects of the legacy and new systems to assure alignment of the test environment with them.
#6) Migration Test Specification Document and review:
Prepare a Migration Test Specification document that transparently explains the test approach, testing areas, testing methods (automated or manual), testing method (black-box or white-box testing), number of test cycles, testing schedule, approach of creating and using data (sensitive information must be encrypted), test environment specification, and qualifications of the tester. Review the document with stakeholders.
#7) Migration of the system to production:
Analyze and record the steps required for production migration and disseminate this information well in advance.
Different Stages of Migration
The different stages of Migration are categorized as follows:
Phase #1: Initial Migration Testing
Before data migration, a sequence of testing activities are performed during the Initial Migration test phase. These activities may often be neglected in simpler applications but are vital for complex ones.
The following actions are taken during this stage: