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Leveraging the Transformative Power of the Cloud

The technology leaders of today’s most successful companies demand improved performance, scalability, agile process adoption, greater change control, improved system stability, better risk management, and more effective monitoring—all while reducing costs and overhead—and never jeopardizing security. In the not-so-distant past this laundry list of demands would have been nearly impossible or come at a staggering cost. With today’s advances in cloud platforms, however, these requisites are not only possible but also achievable via migration to the cloud.
To increase performance and lower costs, world-class companies have begun migrating their entire data ecosystems from an “on-prem” model, where data infrastructure is physically housed within the company, to cloud architecture model, where the data and computing is in the cloud. Services are developed and offered by companies like Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Google Cloud Platform (GCP).
The cloud model offers many advantages ranging from efficiency to scalability, but in an era where many organizations are only moving some of their data to the cloud, it’s a good time to discuss strategies to ensure that full benefits of the cloud are being realized.
Let Go of Security Concerns and Trust the Cloud
While some organizations have completed a full migration to the cloud, others feel more comfortable using a hybrid model in which sensitive data, such as personal, medical or financial information, is still housed on-prem, while everything else is on the cloud. There is a persistent myth that sensitive information will be more secure if it’s physically housed within a company, or behind the corporate firewall.
However, we still see major hacks occur on-prem while evidence shows housing your data on the cloud is at least as – if not more – secure than on-prem. Some larger corporations have begun to realize this, which is helping to highlight that the cloud can be trusted with sensitive information. With a hybrid model, it is also impossible to realize the full financial benefits of a migration, since you will still be paying for a data center. With a full migration, you get the financial benefits, without losing anything in security.
Reevaluate the Entire Data Ecosystem
Fear of change comes in many forms within the cloud adoption process. Some companies will do a ‘lift-and-shift’ migration, in which they move everything from processes and software to the cloud, but put it in an environment that is very similar to the previous one. The perceived benefit here is ease-of-use.
The alternative to this is to use the migration as an opportunity to reinvent your entire data ecosystem. By removing legacy processes, software, infrastructure and even best practices, and replacing them with a solution that puts to use all of the latest technologies, you can end up with something that is highly performant, more flexible, gracefully extendable and much more cost effective. Some companies prefer to get to this point through a two-step process, which helps employees adjust to the changes and learn new material and processes. Once this is complete, you can completely reinvent your data stores by going from something massive and monolithic to a very agile, serverless environment in which compute is used dynamically (more efficiently).
Take Advantage of the Cloud Environment
Another key benefit of moving to the cloud is that it provides an uninterrupted environment for data and all of its related processes to exist. Historically, data science, data analytics, data warehousing, and data transactions have been siloed actions. They have existed as distinct operations that required movement of data in order to complete each, leading to a secondary problem of having multiple records of the same data.
When you move to the cloud, you put everything into the data lake and with these data sets, you can complete all of the necessary functions including performing transactions, warehousing, analytics and even machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) applications. This is a huge leap for ease of governance and simplification of data.
Get Ahead with Transformative Technology
AI and ML are not going away. It is far more likely that they will become core components of many critical business functions. Having all data on the cloud provides the opportunity for AI and ML to interact directly with the data. If you look at the type of technology that already exists in personal assistants like Alexa or Siri, allowing them to access business data can provide huge operational efficiencies.
You can automate processes that would frequently require humans to go through several steps. By combining AI and ML concepts that are already in place, such as voice recognition and natural language processing, with the ability to know where to find company-specific data and interpret it, you could interact directly with that data. Instead of limiting these assistants to general questions such as, “How is the weather?” we could now ask, “How were my sales yesterday?” But in order to truly leverage this transformative technology, the data must be on the cloud.
For companies that have not begun their migration to the cloud, there is really no better time than now, and for those who have – it may be a good time to ensure you are taking advantage of all its benefits to the full extent. With today’s variety of advanced technologies available at our fingertips, every tool becomes an opportunity to thrive.
About the Author
Joe Caserta is an entrepreneur, technologist and founding President of Caserta Concepts (now Caserta). He is one of the most respected data technologists and thought-leaders in the industry today. His work was first publicized in 2003 when his innovative approach to Clickstream analytics was featured in the Intelligent Enterprise magazine, which became the standard for analyzing web data.