Migrating to the cloud is now a key IT strategy, often used to enable digital transformation, for almost every organisation. No matter how big or small, or what sector they operate in, almost all have benefits in flexibility and agility to gain from moving some or even all of their data and applications to the cloud.
However, the move to the cloud does not always result in better data management. It can create unforeseen complexity. It can reduce visibility, moving data to places where it can no longer be easily seen or controlled. And even though the cloud, in theory, increases possibility for innovation, collaboration and creativity, if users cannot access the information they need then those benefits will go unharnessed.
Here are five common pitfalls to avoid in your cloud strategy if you are to achieve improved data management from a cloud migration.
Pitfall 1: Include legacy IT systems
Integrating legacy IT systems is a complex challenge whether you are working on-premise, with a private cloud or a public cloud provider. Legacy IT systems may not interoperate smoothly with other applications, meaning that data stored in one system cannot easily be shared with another, so separate systems cannot ‘speak’ to each other as they need to.
As such, your cloud strategy needs to ensure that legacy IT systems that are not being refreshed are nonetheless modernized by use of middleware, in the form of data and API integration.
Pitfall 2: Don’t replicate problems
For data to be useful, your organisation needs to be able to access it and query it with ease. After all, information in its raw form doesn’t do very much – you need to be able to turn that information into tangible insights and action. In practice, this means knowing where different datasets are stored, and having an interface through which those datasets can easily be accessed and manipulated.
If your data is inaccessible in the first place, then simply moving elements to the cloud from on-premise storage may result in simply recreating the problem in a new application. A data and API integration platform may be needed to continuously and seamlessly connect applications and their underlying data together.
Pitfall 3: No unwanted data lakes
Many businesses try and create data warehouses as part of a cloud move, so key data sits in one place. It sounds great – a single, clearly organised and structured data source, through which stakeholders can access the information they need on demand.
However, the reality is that data warehouses can rapidly become unwanted data lakes, where unstructured data is unceremoniously dumped. Data lakes are huge unwieldy beasts, and very difficult to harness effectively for the business. To avoid this, data needs to be structured from the outset and technologies used that enable and ensure your chosen ontology is maintained.
Pitfall 4: Open data policy
Cloud strategies are understandably executed by IT teams, but data is used by everyone. Will your cloud strategy empower marketing teams to access the analytics they require to tweak their campaigns, or your finance departments to work with the data they need to produce accurate forecasts? Will key stakeholders be able to reach the data they require independently, or will the IT team have to be a facilitator, one that feels more like an uncompromising gatekeeper?
Once again, the importance of data and API integration platforms for connecting disparate moving parts and ensuring that even non-technical knowledge workers can work with core business data, cannot be underestimated. Your cloud strategy cannot simply be about making the IT team’s life easier – it needs to be about making the entire business work smarter.
Pitfall 5: Focus beyond cloud
There are multiple different ways of structuring a cloud migration, and all bring different business benefits and challenges. It is therefore very easy to focus all your attention on infrastructure elements such as cloud providers, hybrid cloud models and networking. These areas are certainly of great importance, but don’t forget to consider other applications that fit into your overall cloud strategy and help promote better access to data. Integration-Platform-as-a-Service (iPaaS) products can help make data more accessible to all within the business and sit within your overall cloud strategy.
Digital transformation is a core priority for many organisations today, and cloud adoption can be a core component for making it happen. However, it is important not to lose sight of the data which sits underneath. It is your data assets that unlock the benefits of digital transformation, enabling you to make more timely and accurate business decisions and work more collaboratively, promoting creativity and innovation.