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Do you have large amounts of data locked away in legacy databases? Learn about legacy database migration and integration and how they can help you.


Legacy Database Migration vs. Integration: Weighing the Pros and Cons

Posted by Angela Davis on April 13, 2023
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Legacy database migration and integration are integral to maintaining high standards of data management, analysis, and protection. In this article, we’ll look at what these processes entail, as well as the pros and cons in terms of business needs for legacy systems

Understanding legacy data and legacy databases

Legacy data is information that’s stored in an old (sometimes obsolete) format or computer system. This makes it hard to process or even access.

This data can be anything from financial records to personal details and stored anywhere from a USB stick to a computer running an out-of-date operating system. Often, if the data is lost or the database breaks, there are no or few technicians who’d be available to fix the problem.

Table of technology constraints on improvement
Image source


What is a legacy database migration?

Legacy database migration is the process of moving data from one database management system to another or from an older version of a database management system to a newer version.

The aim of any kind of database migration is to make sure everything is safely and accurately migrated so it’s usable after the move. Legacy migration should help improve accessibility and security, as well as ensure you remain compliant with data security regulations. It also prevents data from being lost because of the obsolete nature of its current format or storage. 


What is legacy database integration?

Legacy database integration consists of combining data from different sources into one unified space. There are several reasons to do this e.g. it reduces silos and makes it easier to create reports and analyze all the data you have available.

When integrating legacy databases, formatting must be adjusted to unify all of the data into one common format, like translating everything into the same language. The data is then uploaded into one system, which could be on-premise or take the form of legacy systems in the cloud

While there are specialized tools for all of this, you may have to do some of it manually if you’re moving data from an obsolete system.  


Legacy data migration and data integration: How they differ

While both migration and integration have similar goals, they’re still distinct from each other. It’s important to choose the right solution for your business, so let’s take a look at the key differences i.e. usage, frequency, tasks, and purpose.


Data integration normally involves merging data from various systems to form a holistic view of a company’s operations. It can also involve bringing in external data to create insights that wouldn’t occur with just internal data. 

Data migration, on the other hand, consists of transferring data from the old system to the new system. It can also involve moving data from many different systems into a single central database. 


While data migration is usually a one-time event that’s carried out when a new system is set up or to consolidate data from multiple systems, data integration is more likely to be a continuous process.


The tasks for data migration and integration have some overlap, but they generally follow a set of predetermined steps. 

Data migration from legacy systems to modern databases involves the following:

  • Preparation and planning for migration
  • Cleaning and validation of data 
  • Conversion to an appropriate format
  • Loading data to the new system
  • Data testing and quality assurance
  • Archiving of data

Data integration usually consists of the following tasks:

  • Data discovery
  • Data mapping
  • Cleaning and validation of data 
  • Conversion to an appropriate format
  • Loading data to a central system
  • Testing data and quality assurance
  • Data management and ongoing maintenance


The primary purpose of data migration is to move everything to a new system, ensuring it’s accessible and meets current regulation standards.  This improves  the company’s ability to manage and study data and is best for businesses that have a lot of outdated or obsolete systems in place and that find their data is hard to use or no longer meets data privacy requirements.

The primary purpose of data integration, on the other hand, is to improve decision-making by centralizing data and making it easier to compare. It allows businesses to gain insights based on real data and is ideal for companies with a lot of data spread out over a variety of locations and who might be suffering from data silos.

Pros and cons of migrating legacy databases

There are a number of pros and cons to consider when migrating legacy databases. 

We’ll cover the core considerations here. 


The main advantages of migrating your legacy databases include the following: 

  • Enhanced performance: new systems will include features and technologies your old system doesn’t enjoy.
  • Enhanced scalability: your ability to grow your business and your data management tools will be improved with more flexible data storage. 
  • Improved efficiency: modern storage solutions are easier to navigate and have more efficient categorizing features.
  • Improved security: newer systems are more likely to be compliant with modern security regulations and standards. 
  • Better disaster recovery: modern solutions are likely to offer data backup features (with data breaches costing companies so much, an updated system is a worthy investment).

graph of average cost of a data breach worldwide by year

Image source


  • Risk of losing data during migration: there is always the risk that you might lose some data during migration, especially if you do it manually. Luckily, there are tools to help you do this safely. 
  • Some data might not be easily convertible to an appropriate format, meaning you may need to maintain legacy systems while you resolve this.
  • Time-consuming: depending on the size of the operation, this can take a long time. 

Pros and cons of legacy database integration

There are a few different pros and cons to consider with legacy database integration too.


The main advantages of integrating your legacy databases include the following:

  • Better decision-making: when you have all of your data in one place, it’s easier to analyze and compare data (and as a result make data-driven decisions). 
  • More efficient: having all your data in one place allows you to search through it much more easily, and you don’t have to use multiple sources to gain an accurate picture of the business.
  • Greater insights: being able to compare data more easily in one place leads to more interesting and plentiful insights.
  • Better data management: it’s much easier to manage data in one place and to update the security of just one system.
  • Improved customer experience: a knock-on effect of a more efficient system is faster customer service and an improved customer experience. 


  • Data can be formatted incorrectly: mistakes happen and sometimes data can be formatted incorrectly, rendering it harder to use.
  • Poor quality data: the quality of data can sometimes get lost during integration, especially if you need to change formats. 
  • Data duplicates: when merging data into one place, you can end up with some duplicates and it can be time-consuming to clean this.

Legacy database migration and integration: How to make them work together

Data integration and data migration are both crucial for the proper running of data management. They’re related in that they both involve the movement of data, but there are different reasons for employing each of them. 

Sometimes data integration and data migration can be conducted together. If you’re migrating your data to the cloud and have multiple datasets, it can be worth integrating them alongside migrating away from legacy systems. 

Data integration tools can be used to take data from different sources, and clean and convert it so it’s usable and in a consistent format. They then upload the data into a central data storage system. The process of doing all this can simultaneously prepare the data to be migrated since it transforms it into a consistent and usable format.

Strengthen your legacy data migration strategy and integration process with OpenLegacy

Data integration and data migration are fundamental to the proper functioning of any business wishing to modernize its systems, adhere to security regulations, and maximize the value of its data. 

These practices often go hand in hand and are powerful processes that support data management and analysis. With tools like OpenLegacy, it’s easier than ever to implement a database migration strategy and unlock your data.



FAQs about legacy database migration and integration

How do you store legacy data?

When migrating legacy data, it’s transformed into a generalized format, such as PDF, Excel, or TXT, and then stored in the new database. Legacy data can also be transferred to a VM copy of the legacy database, which is hosted in the cloud.


How long does it take to perform a data migration?

The length of time it takes to perform data migration depends on the amount of data and the differences between the source and target locations. Migration can take anywhere from half an hour to months.


What is legacy data warehouse modernization?

Legacy data warehouse modernization is the total restructuring of data handling procedures within organizations to adapt to modern systems of data retrieval and communication. 

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