Migration of business operations to the cloud – or at least a hybrid cloud migration – is a move every executive should be considering, and those business operations must include analytics.
According to IDC, 29 per cent of analytics will be in the cloud by 2022.
Steve Holder, the national strategy executive of AI and analytics for SAS Institute (Canada) Inc., spoke with ITbusiness.ca at SAS’s Cloud Analytics – It’s About Time: Analytic Executive Breakfast Session event about the benefits that can be realized from migrating to the cloud.
“The reasons why people are adopting cloud are very simple, right? Elasticity, speed, not only in terms of performance but also in terms of time to value, high availability, solving some of the chronic problems people have with on-premise solutions,” said Holder.
Despite these benefits, Holder warned that he sees six key factors to consider before moving forward with a cloud migration of your analytics.
Holder, who moderated a panel of industry experts at the event (which included Charles Victor of ICES, Jonathan Carroll of BMO, and Gavin Lubbe of KPMG), listed the key factors as deployment, integration, migration, data, cost, and security.
Before you can move forward with a cloud migration, the first question you must ask yourself according to Holder is how are your assets structured now and how would you like them to be structured down the road?
“How are you going to deploy your assets into the cloud? Do you have a need for a hybrid environment? Is your data in the cloud? How are you going to handle governance of cloud resources? How are you going to ensure that things are deployed in a thoughtful way,” said Holder. “Because if you put too much governance on the cloud infrastructure, that you’re not going to get all the benefits of agility and flexibility and speed and all that good stuff.”
Holder said he believes organizations are rushing to make the leap. Only about 20 per cent of SAS’s customers say they have these questions answered and are ready for their migration.
Once you have decided on a cloud structure, delving into how that structure is going to affect your business processes moving forward is the next key step to consider.
A step that can be taken to aid in this process, said Holder, is ensuring you have a cloud orchestration team within your company to make sure that your cloud migration does not negatively affect the overall operations of the business. And if you do not have such a team, investment in a consultant is something work looking into.
“You got to make sure the integration can work. Moving data into the cloud and having back and forth is something that needs to be architected for. Because if you’re not in 100 per cent cloud environment, you’re going to have that hybrid,” explained Holder. “Integration of your enterprise system and your enterprise processes is important. Iif you don’t have people who have skills around cloud orchestration, there’s consulting dollars that are going to have to be invested.”
Next up, is the migration of your applications and deciding how that will be done.
One key decision Holder said must be made is deciding whether to lift and shift or to migrate and recode your applications,
“How are you going to migrate? Are you going to lift and shift or migrate and recode? What’s the value of that recording?” asked Holder. ” Maybe there is value there. Maybe it’s a job that shouldn’t be run anyway. But you gotta have a critical eye in the movement migration to the cloud. If you just pick up what you’re doing here and put it over there, you may not get the value you desire.”
The decisions about your data are a little more wide reaching. Some of the questions Holder posed were: How are you going to get your data in the cloud? Can you put your data in the cloud? How do you lift and shift? What are the pieces and elements you need to make that happen? How do you create better standardization? And how do you start to share data more effectively?
And Holder said he believes that a transition like this is an opportune time for organizations to rethink how they have managed their data in the past.
“It’s really a data management and data change problem, that you have an opportunity as you move into the cloud, when you can fix the
sins of the past. And we believe that we can help organizations kind of undo things that maybe they don’t want to do anymore. We can help organizations kind of undo that and put it more standards as you migrate into the cloud. It’s a good opportunity to clean your house.”
Last but definitely not least is cost. Cost is always a big driver in any business decisions. And a migration to the cloud is no exception.
Holder warns that operating on the cloud is not going to be cheaper, as many people he talks to expect it to be.
“Cost is the big bogey. People think cloud is going to be cheaper,” said Holder. “I think that it is cheaper to get started. But what’s the long term costs going to be?”
And this is where he said discipline and planning are essential to preventing unforeseen costs.
“Rigor is needed to ensure predictability. With the cloud technology stacks, you run the risk. And so you got to be careful. You got to put rigor in place.”
Despite these warnings, he does say that the value still lies in the agility the cloud can provide. And business owners must consider what value that provides them and their business.
“What is the cost of agility? Are you able to generate more revenue or mitigate more risk or attract more customers for a few dollars more a year? And that’s what the cloud technologies can provide. I might have longer term costs, but the value of that agility, I can quantify. And I can now make that move.”