More to a move to the cloud than just lift and shift
It has been estimated that there will be over 100 zettabytes of data stored in the cloud by 2025. With the COVID-19 pandemic accelerating cloud adoption, this figure will in all likelihood be a conservative estimate – research by Panda security indicates only 48% of businesses are choosing to store their classified and most important data on the cloud. This includes both encrypted and “regular” data.
Data storage, however, is the least of a company’s concerns when moving to the cloud. Despite the fact that more businesses are making bigger cloud investments every day, moving workloads and applications can be a complex undertaking, particularly from a data management point of view.
Some organisations still have to keep much of their data on premises for regulatory reasons, or because of the demands of certain applications. Other organisations believe that rapidly accessing their data and gaining real-time insights from large data sets stored across multiple clouds is not practical. Even those organisations that have happily moved some or all of their data into the cloud generally lack a carefully thought-out data strategy.
Don’t forget data management
In too many cases, data management is the last consideration for companies moving to the cloud, or is merely a grudge purchase, according to Kishore Natvarlal, Executive Head of Cloud and Data solutions, and Ben Brynard, Product Manager at Nexio. Even if data management is considered, issues like the processing speeds needed for real-time and near real-time applications, or optimising network efficiency to reduce costs, can be ignored in the context of the company’s data strategy, they point out.
In addition, more organisations are relying on multicloud strategies, storing their data across different clouds or on-premises and in the cloud, making data consistency across environments a bigger challenge. “While a multicloud approach offers a number of benefits, including preventing vendor lock-in, better terms including payment flexibility, adjustable contracts and customisable capacity, not to mention improved application performance demand management, replicating data can become a real headache,” Natvarlal says.
“Companies need to be able to move and replicate their data among different cloud vendors or across different regions efficiently and in real-time. This is important not only from a backup and recovery perspective, but to allow applications and users to access current and consistent data whenever they need it. If data is duplicated between two or more clouds, it can increase reliability, or it can slow down response times, depending on whether or not the organisation has access to an effective data management solution,” Brynard adds.
The idea that data is the new oil has become a cliché, but it is rooted in reality. Analytics, AI and IOT capabilities are improving in leaps and bounds, and every organisation is trying to find a way to make use of their data to drive new insights and better business decisions. The volume of enterprise data is growing by more than 60% per year, according to IDC, but control over strategic data and poor data quality remain challenges that need to be overcome. Data management is an essential first step for companies to start getting the value from their data investments, and without a comprehensive approach – particularly with regards to all of the data sources organisations have in the cloud – the challenges that hinder businesses from becoming more competitive will remain in place.
The compliance conundrum
The first step in any data management journey – whether on-premises or in the cloud – should not be buying a tool for it. Data governance initiatives that align with organisational goals must also tie in to the overall data management strategy.
Regulations such as GDPR and POPI have made compliance non-negotiable, with the threat of heavy penalties stopping as many companies from moving to the cloud as those it incentivises. The more data in the cloud, the higher the risk, and without a cloud partner with the right security and risk mitigation solutions in place, organisations can struggle with their cloud ecosystems. However, when companies use a partner that builds security into its cloud solutions from the ground up, compliance and security are easier to achieve than in on-premises environments, Natvarlal and Brynard explain. In fact, a Salesforce survey found that 94% of businesses report significant online security improvements after moving their data to the cloud, and 91% found cloud technology immensely helpful when dealing with compliance requirements.
“With threat actors becoming more sophisticated, both upfront and back-end security considerations should be top of mind in any cloud implementation. The move to cloud requires support for users at dozens, if not hundreds, of edge locations, making the threat surface exponentially larger than traditional on-premises environments. Many organisations have therefore started adopting a zero-trust approach to ensure every access attempt is verified regardless of the source,” says Natvarlal.
Look for a trusted advisor
“Whether companies are just starting on their cloud journeys, or have already migrated workloads and applications, they should be looking for a partner that can ensure that, at a minimum, they get the same level of coverage in the cloud as an on-premises environment would provide – whether it’s from a security point of view, an application perspective or looking at infrastructure in general. In most instances, cloud will be more cost-effective in a like-for-like comparison with on-premises solutions, but these costs can easily spiral out of control without an effective management solution in place,” Natvarlal says.
“Similarly, without a trusted advisor like Nexio in place, organisations struggle to get an end-to-end view of their cloud ecosystems in order to ensure their effectiveness. For example, many organisations fail to read the fine print and end up stuck in a situation where there is an additional cost associated with removing their data from a cloud environment in order to move it elsewhere,” Brynard adds.
There is far more to a move to the cloud than a mere “lift and shift”. With the right partner in place, companies can ensure they gain the same resilience in the cloud as they would have in an on-premises environment with much better economies of scale, Natvarlal and Brynard conclude.