It's tough to argue against the benefits of the cloud. It's cheaper, more flexible, and easy to scale. Everyone's on board with this. What's often overlooked, however, are the actual challenges of migrating to the cloud. How often have you heard people around the office say "we need to get to the cloud." The thing is, it's easy to say, but it's a lot harder to do.
Getting to the cloud is more than just an empty motto or a couple slides in a presentation. To work, it must be part of a viable strategy. That's especially true today considering the scale of data being generated from IoT. With a projected 42 billion connected devices generating 80 zettabytes of data by 2025, the cloud needs to be adopted before the velocity of data makes getting to the cloud even more challenging.
This cloud transformation can't happen overnight even if we want it to. That's because some hard truths that need to be addressed head-on while getting to the cloud. The benefits definitely, from flexibility to lower costs, outweigh the challenges. However, these obstacles can't be overlooked.
Data Is Often Siloed
Moving to the cloud isn't so easy when a company's data is stored all over the place. A fast-scaling company might have failed to implement a single data infrastructure when expanding internationally. A large, legacy company might suffer the same problem, as semi-autonomous regional offices may have taken data management measures into their own hands to avoid bureaucracy.
Even small organizations in a single location aren't immune to these struggles. One department – finance for example – might have some of the data, while marketing has its own data. This data isn't connected, therefore limiting its value.
Siloed data makes getting the right data to make smart business decisions a challenge. It also makes a cloud migration more difficult, as all these sources need to be brought together for the first time.
The Scale of Data Is Massive and in Different Formats
Even if all the data is stored in the same place, getting to the cloud can be a challenge. IoT devices generate data with an average 29 percent growth rate each year. That's a staggering rise that represents a challenge even in ideal circumstances. The truth is that circumstances are far from ideal, as the data is coming in many different formats.
Not all data is created equally. There's first-party data, third-party data, data that's stored on-premise and other that's already in the cloud. With the data piling up so quickly, getting a handle on all these data sources becomes more challenging — not to mention more expensive — as time goes on.
Just managing the velocity of data and bringing everything to the cloud isn't enough. To make the data valuable, it needs to make sense to business users. That means deploying a business semantic layer in order to bride all the data in different formats together. This provides a natural language index to both the data and its structure, so it becomes easier to gain insights. It's a critical part of getting to the cloud that shouldn't be overlooked.
Data Compliance Needs to be Maintained
Organizations spend a lot of time and resources getting the right permissions in place. New data privacy regulations, such as the GDPR in Europe, mandate how certain data needs to be stored, was another challenge. Other governments are getting on board with different data regulations, which means more data compliance challenges on the horizon.
There's a good chance that organizations set up a lot of these complex permissions and data compliance measures through on-premise storage solutions. Now, when going to the cloud, all of this needs to be maintained. Depending on the complexity of the previous measures, repeating this all for the cloud can be a great undertaking. Following data compliance on the cloud completely necessary, but it's a challenge that takes time to overcome.
How Companies Tackle These Challenges
All these hard truths about going to the cloud might be enough to make some people reconsider whether it's worth all the effort and headaches that come with migration. The answer is that the benefits — from costs to flexibility — outweigh the negatives. The future of data storage is in the cloud. Fortunately, organizations can handle this migration on their own terms through a hybrid data management strategy.
With a hybrid strategy, organizations deploy both the cloud and on-premise storage solutions. Over time, they can gradually shift what they'd like to the crowd. This way, they can still leverage their on-premise investments while extending these capabilities to the cloud. This strategy is growing in popularity, with 58 percent of enterprises in 2019 opting for a hybrid strategy.
Becoming cloud-first is critical, and a hybrid data strategy helps make this transition happen. The challenges may be plenty, but the rewards make the journey worthwhile.
This article was first published in IT.Toolbox.