When you talk to IT professionals about cloud migration, the conversation is likely to gravitate towards migration of applications from on-premises infrastructure to public and/or private cloud environments.
The application-centric perspective is understandable as applications are often the visible interface between business users and the technology platforms they leverage. What many IT practitioners forget is that applications aren’t the whole solution, they are more like the visible tip of an iceberg with an expansive mass hidden below the surface.
As companies approach their cloud migration strategies, they need to address the whole iceberg, not just what users see.
Below the surface of the IT environment, abstracted and obscured by polished application interfaces, is a complex web of dependent components – both technology and data. This is where the meaningful information is aggregated, stored and processed into insights. Its also where workflows are constructed, and business capabilities are enabled.
Unfortunately, it is also the source of much of the application performance issues that companies encounter. Moving applications to the cloud is great, but if the data and all of the connections are left on-premises and leveraging outdated integration methods, users aren’t going to realize the full benefits that the cloud can offer. Moving your company’s data to the cloud is an important step in the overall cloud migration process.
When planning your cloud data migration effort, there are a few important decisions that you need to make.
- Do you want to just “lift and shift” or do you want to modernize the way you store and manage data?
Some companies move their data to the cloud with the simple goal of reducing IT infrastructure costs. The approach they take is to simply move their current databases, data and connections from on-premises hardware into an IaaS(Infrastructure as a service) or PaaS(Platform as a service) environment – leaving functionality essentially the same.
This is often the “quick and easy” way to check the box and say that data has been moved to the cloud, but these companies will soon find that they aren’t able to leverage the full benefits that cloud can offer them and end up regretting the decision later.
As a better alternative, many companies are combining their “cloud migration” with modernization efforts – moving data to the cloud but adopting new ways of storing, managing, integrating and processing it.
There is a new generation of cloud-based data management tools that leverage the unique scaling properties of cloud environments to manage large quantities of data (including streaming data from things like IoT devices) and provide it to target applications with remarkable speed that isn’t attainable using traditional approaches and on-premises infrastructure.
The effort to modernize your infrastructure at the same time as your data migration may require a bit more time and resources, but the business results will be easily apparent.
- Are you only concerned with storing data, or do you want to improve how you process data too?
Managing data is more than storing it in a database and using applications to perform queries. Most modern applications, both robust platforms (like CRM, ERP, HCM and ITSM) and simple interfaces that users interact with (things like eCommerce and mobile applications) have their functionality largely driven by data, not the application code itself. Applications and software are essentially specialized data processing engines.
Whether it is your logistics system tracking orders through your supply chain, a call center app providing agents with customer information or a marketing system identifying efficient means of targeting customers, most of the heavy-lifting in modern applications is all about processing and integration data from various sources and applications.
When migrating data to the cloud, this is a good time for companies to look at modernizing how they process the data that their applications rely on.
Traditional relational databases are optimized for the storage of data while systems like Actian Vector are optimized for processing and consuming data. Upgrading your data processing capabilities can significantly improve your application performance.
- How do you want to manage data integration, both in the cloud and with on-premises systems?
The choices you make about how to manage the complex web of data connections between data sources and applications is arguably the most important decision you will make in your cloud data migration project.
The approach that has been used for decades in on-premises systems is for each application and database to maintain point-to-point connections with each of the systems it needs to share data with.
That approach worked fine when applications had a couple of data sources that they relied on and perhaps a few upstream or downstream systems they needed to integrate with for workflows. Modern applications are different, and it is making data integration a real headache for IT departments.
With the proliferation of SaaS and other 3rdparty software offerings, company’s IT ecosystems are getting more complex. As companies embark on digital transformation journeys, business processes become dependent not just on a few, but many applications. Those applications are also dependent on many data sources and share data with a lot of other applications.
Using the traditional point-to-point integration method, it is easy for even a mid-size company to have thousands of data connections that need to be maintained in order for their business to operate.
Cloud migration of your data is the ideal time to address the data integration challenge by implementing a system like Actian DataConnect.
DataConnect serves as a hub for managing all your data connections and integrations in one place, so you can manage where your data is going and make changes confidently. Most cloud migration projects aren’t done as a “big bang” approach but happen in phases. Actian DataConnect enables you to manage your connections regardless of where the data source or application resides – on-premises, in the cloud, or with a 3rdparty provider.
Moving your data cloud is an important part of your overall cloud migration strategy. To achieve the full potential that cloud has to offer, you need to look beyond a simple lift and shift of your legacy solutions and leverage the modern data management capabilities that solutions like Actian can offer.