Blog: Delivering expert support in resolving database conversion errors

One of the major United States universities has been migrating their complex data managing system from Sybase to SQL Server. They used SQL Server Migration Assistant for Sybase to automate the migration process. However, SSMA tool could not deal with 100% of their source code, and their development team required some assistance with a manual conversion. So they asked us to provide technical support in resolving these conversion errors. With our guidance and extensive support, our customer was able to complete the migration within the short period of time.

Customer problem

Our customer’s development team has been supporting Sybase-based educational facilities apps for a long time. They decided to migrate to the higher value SQL Server to take advantage of its modern capabilities. However, their team faced with conversion errors they could not handle by themselves. They have never worked with SQL Server before and therefore did not have the understanding of its distinctive features. So they turned to us for assistance and guidance in resolving these errors.  

SSMA tool facilitates the database migration by automatically converting the source database schema and a majority of the custom code. Despite being an ultimate migration solution for Microsoft database platforms, SSMA tool can’t guarantee the conversion of 100% of the source code. Naturally, in some cases SSMA is unable to deal with differences between the source and target platforms. In our customer’s case, SSMA reported an error in around 30% of the source code.

We have extensive experience with SSMA tool because originally we developed this cutting edge migration solution that was lately acquired by Microsoft. Our more that 10 years experience with SSMA resulted in a number of standard solutions on how to handle typical conversion errors. You can discover these solutions in the series of blog posts. Furthermore, in this particular project we encountered some mistakes described in the mentioned posts. 

Our technical support approach

Let’s review the remote technical support process.

First, the developers on the customer side provided us with error message reported by SSMA tool. The particular conversion error could emerge many times in the migration project, so they also attached the source code fragments causing an error. Despite not having the full context of the source code, we provided the customer with detailed instructions on how to resolve each common conversion error. With that general solution on each type of error, they were able to resolve all conversion errors they had to deal with.

Once our customer had faced new errors, our support team rapidly responded within few hours. In such a manner, with our instructions they finally resolved all errors within a short time.  

Overviewing this project, our team was responsible for high level decisions in terms of role distribution. Our customer’s team then implemented these decisions as SQL Server code. That strategy allowed us to leverage our main intellectual asset – the knowledge and expertise of database migration solutions.

Ultimately, their development team not only successfully migrated their system to SQL Server, but they also gained the understanding of SQL Server platform from our highly experienced specialists.

In this regard, the key benefit for our customer was that they could embrace modern SQL Server capabilities and their developers have raised the qualification. With that experience, they might be able to save costs during future database migrations.