Take the pain out of moving data to the cloud

Take the pain out of moving data to the cloud

The intricacies of cloud data migration can be managed, to navigate this transformative endeavour with confidence

It is said that three of the most stressful things in life are death, divorce and moving. While moving to a new house can indeed be a daunting prospect, similar sentiments hold true when considering the migration of data to the cloud.

The prospect of transitioning an organisation’s valuable information and systems may bring about a sense of disquiet and uncertainty.

Let’s tackle these concerns head-on, and in doing so, gain valuable insights, plus a step-by-step approach to planning and executing a successful data journey to the cloud. By understanding the process and proactively preparing for the challenges ahead, companies can alleviate much of the stress associated with this transformative endeavour.

In the following, I will delve into the intricacies of cloud data migration and provide the knowledge necessary to navigate this path with confidence.

Data migration to the cloud is like a physical move, except it involves moving digital assets from one place to another and hopefully along the way implementing measures to prevent data duplication.

It’s a journey that starts with an evaluation of the organisation’s requirements, goals and the specific data that is planned to migrate to the cloud.

Step one: Preparation

This is the key to a less stressful and more successful move of data to the cloud. When embarking on this transformative journey, there are several considerations to bear in mind, such as:

  • How does the company commence the journey?
  • What is the business need?
  • What challenges might be encountered along the way?
  • Can all the data be moved, or just some of it? Legislative constraints (in some countries) may impede the process of moving all the data.

Step two: Take a systematic approach

To ensure a smooth transition, it’s crucial to systematically approach moving data to the cloud. Start by identifying the benefits and likely challenges that may be faced. Develop a comprehensive data migration strategy that outlines the sequence, timeline and methodology for moving the data.

Select a cloud service provider that aligns with the organisation’s needs, considering reliability, security, scalability, pricing, available services and support.

Additionally, assess dependencies on other resources like databases, APIs or networking, and ensure compatibility with the cloud environment through necessary modifications or adjustments.

Competing in the real-time economy requires instant insights and companies can’t get them with manual data integration.

When commencing this journey, there are various aspects of the business to consider, such as application migration plus security and compliance issues.

Implement measures like encryption, identity and access management controls, and monitor to address security concerns. Compliance can be achieved by aligning with relevant regulations and industry standards, such as POPI and GDPR, based on specific requirements.

Step three: Data migration and movement – automation is essential

The all-important question of data migration is crucial in the move to the cloud. The reality is that most organisations will have a hybrid architecture, which means constant movement of data between on-premises, public, private cloud and SaaS systems.

Batch processing methods are too slow and labour-intensive to integrate real-time data from multiple systems – and inefficient for delivering data to the cloud. It is necessary to ingest and migrate data from wherever it lives into modern cloud data platforms for downstream analytics and other data initiatives.

Moving data to the cloud can offer numerous benefits, such as scalability, cost-efficiency and ease of access.

Competing in the real-time economy requires instant insights and companies can’t get them with manual data integration. Such solutions need to offer an automated data fabric that delivers reliable, analytics-ready data in near-real-time with a low-code approach.

Step four: Change data capture approach to data replication

Moving data to the cloud typically involves some form of replication or synchronisation to ensure data availability and redundancy. Best-in-class change data capture identifies and moves just the changes to data and metadata as they occur – without disrupting production systems.

It’s worth noting that while these methods may allow data to be moved to the cloud without explicit replication, cloud providers often employ their own internal replication mechanisms to ensure data durability and availability within their infrastructure. It is essential to understand the specific offerings and capabilities of the chosen cloud provider.

Instead of directly moving data to the cloud, use cloud-based backup services that securely transfer and store data in the cloud without replication. These services typically employ data deduplication and compression techniques to optimise storage utilisation, while maintaining a single copy of the data.

However, be aware of the potential risks and challenges, such as data replication and loss that can be associated with cloud data storage.

Companies need to decide how to migrate data to the cloud. Options include using data transfer services provided by the cloud provider, leveraging cloud storage gateways, or performing a direct transfer over the network.

Plan for data validation and ensure data integrity during the migration process. Understand that while cloud providers typically have robust backup systems, there is still a possibility of data loss due to technical failures, natural disasters, or human error.

However, if specifically wanting to move data to the cloud without replication, consider direct upload. Many cloud service providers offer the option to directly upload data to their storage services without replication. Clients can utilise their provided APIs or web interfaces to transfer data to the cloud.

This approach does not involve data replication, but bear in mind that it may not provide the same level of redundancy and availability as replicated storage. Companies must implement their own backup and disaster recovery plans to mitigate this risk.

Some cloud providers offer cloud gateway solutions that act as a bridge between on-premises data and cloud storage. These gateways facilitate data transfers to the cloud while allowing clients to maintain control over replication. With this method, data is transferred from on-premises infrastructure to the cloud storage without creating additional copies or replicas.

Step 5: Finally, beware of being ‘locked-in’

Vendor lock-in is a big issue in migrating data to the cloud, which involves reliance on a specific cloud service provider, but switching providers or moving data back to an on-premises scenario can be complex and costly.

Many organisations have been surprised by hidden costs involved with data movement and replication by vendor lock-in, so make sure to explicitly ask and understand the cost structures involved when scaling up.

Companies should consider the long-term implications and evaluate strategies to minimise vendor lock-in. Considering an independent best-of-breed component for data replication might be worth looking into.

Implementing the foregoing five steps will ensure the journey to the cloud starts with a solid and meticulously planned foundation.

Written by: Schalk Blanché, pre-sales consultant, Qlik – iOCO

Originally featured here