Migration of Large Database Systems

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Finance Center (NFC), located in New Orleans, Louisiana, provides mission-critical systems and services to Federal organizations. The agency’s customer base is comprised of more than 140 Federal organizations, representing all three branches of the Government. The NFC is the operations component of the USDA’s Office of the Chief Financial Officer (OCFO). Additionally, the agency provides administrative payments and collection information system services to over 120 Federal Departments, Agencies, Offices, and Bureaus. The NFC provides payroll and personnel services to over 610,000 Federal employees. Services include biweekly payments via EFT or checks, current personnel records, and both system generated and ad-hoc reporting.

NFC’s Primary Computing Facility (PCF) is located in Denver, Colorado. NFC’s Backup Computing Facility (BCF) is in St Louis, Missouri.

As a result of the NFC’s acquisition of a major Federal account, the NFC issued a task order for the secure transfer of the client’s substantial database and, at the same time, the execution of any necessary modifications and upgrades to the hosting environment at the PCF.

The project was started with a week’s Discovery and Detailed Plan Development so that a precise map of the steps, personnel, and budget could be reviewed and approved prior to the initiation of the data migration. The project team was composed of experienced engineers based in Louisiana, New Jersey, and Colorado, and was directed from the operational center in New Orleans.

The Financial Data Warehouse (FDW) is a web-based data warehouse composed of DB2 databases and business intelligence reporting tools. FDW is a part of the Corporate Financial Management System (CFMS) used to support procurement activities for the USDA. The FDW environment consists of multiple AIX LPARs, WebSphere, DB2, Open LDAP, Hyperion and Ab Initio products that use a Storage Area Network (SAN) infrastructure to store the data. The purpose of the FDW Data Migration Project was to move all of the data (approximately 10 TB) for the systems, applications, and data bases from the National Information Technology Center facility (NITC) in Kansas City to the NFC’s PCF in Denver, and then provide additional services to implement and stabilize the new environment.

The solution to move FDW was designed to occur in two major steps with additional supporting services being completed between the two steps. Using the team’s unique, custom-built Mobile SAN Appliance (MSA), the first step was to copy the data at the NITC to the MSA. The MSA is a multiple component device weighing nearly 1,000 pounds. Having successfully transferred FDW to the MSA, the system was physically transported to the PCF in Denver so that the new environment could be built and stabilized while the old environment continued to support production processing.

The systems and DB2 came up with only a few minor issues that were immediately resolved, and the databases loaded cleanly. Processing for backup, restore, and archive was successfully tested. The second copy operation was to occur shortly before production cutover to the new environment; however, it was later determined that a second copy was not required.