Data Migration and Translation – Part 1

What is data migration and translation? Here is a definition that will help:

  • Information exists in different formats and representations. For example, Egyptian hieroglyphics are a pictorial language (representation) inscribed on stone (format)
  • However, information is only useful to a consumer in a specific format and representation. So, Roman letters printed on paper may mean the same as an equivalent hieroglyphic text, but the latter could not be understood by a English reader.
  • Migration moves data between formats – such as stone to paper
  • Translation moves data between representations – hieroglyphics to roman letters

What must a migration and translation achieve?

  • The process preserves the accuracy of the information
  • The process is consistent

In the PLM world, the requirement for data translation and migration arises as the result of multiple conditions. Examples of these include changes in technology (one CAD system to another CAD system), upgrades to software (from one level of a PLM system to later version), combination of data from two different sources (CAD files on a directory system with files in a PDM), acquisitions and mergers between companies (combine product data) and integration between systems (connect PLM to ERP).

However, migrations and translations can be fraught with problems and require considerable effort. Here are some reasons:

  • Systems and formats are completely incompatible and have no common basis. This is normally the case when dealing with technology from two different vendors
  • Organizations have no experience with translations and migrations and are unsure of the optimum way of solving the problem
  • Data quantities can be extremely large, especially for companies and organizations with long histories
  • Data quality can be questionable. Common problems include duplicate parts, incorrectly labeled and named properties
  • Effort and cost to effectively complete a migration can be beyond ordinary operating budgets
  • Ongoing business activity and production deadlines consume all resources who then cannot spare the time to complete the task
  • Potentially, a botched migration or translation can result in the loss of company IP and vital data
  • Because some level of translation is always required, organizations put together “Band-aid” or purely manual solutions

Thankfully, there are solutions to these problems and a structured and systematic approach will allow for a complete solution. Part 2 of this series is coming soon.

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