(v) the process of transitioning a business’s data, apps, and software to the cloud.
Each year, more and more businesses are making the leap to the cloud. It’s becoming clear that the cloud is no longer the “next big thing”. The time for making the move to the cloud is now. But the process of moving away from on-premises infrastructure can be daunting.
Without adequate prep, the outcome of the cloud transformation process may not provide the desired results. How do you know where to begin?
Let’s start by looking at what cloud transformation actually entails. Then, we’ll dive into the strategies that form a successful and efficient cloud transformation strategy, including aligning on business goals, establishing analytics for monitoring and optimization, and leveraging a robust data governance solution.
What is Cloud Transformation?
Cloud transformation is the process of transitioning a business’s data, apps, and software to the cloud. Although this sounds straightforward, the process of transitioning itself can become complicated very quickly. One common area of confusion is how cloud transformation differs from cloud migration
The Difference Between Cloud Transformation and Cloud Migration
Cloud transformation and cloud migration are often mentioned in conjunction with each other, creating a blur between the two terms. While they are related, they are not interchangeable.
Cloud migration refers to the process of moving data from a local server to the cloud and is a significant step in the process of cloud transformation. However, cloud transformation encompasses more than just the migration process. In contrast, cloud transformation involves modernizing and optimizing an organization’s data management, analytics, and security to align with the company’s digital transformation objectives.
What Are the Benefits of Cloud Transformation?
Although cloud transformation is often initially viewed as a cost-saving solution, it can also provide many other benefits to businesses as well:
1. Streamlined Operational Efficiency
In an increasingly virtual world, the ability to retrieve critical information from anywhere at any time is becoming the norm. Cloud-based systems improve access to data, allowing collaboration and communication in real-time, as well as enhancing analytics by the elimination of data silos. Additionally, the cloud allows IT personnel to focus on innovations that move the company forward, rather than routine infrastructure maintenance.
2. Increased Adaptability, Scalability, and Speed
For many businesses, cloud transformation is becoming essential to staying competitive in today’s rapidly evolving marketplace. By offering near-instant scaling up to accommodate new priorities or projects, the cloud distinguishes cloud-based businesses from their on-premises competitors, who may face delays ranging from weeks to months to upgrade IT infrastructure.
3. Stronger Data Security
Data security is a common concern for companies transitioning to the cloud. To some organizations, it may seem counterintuitive that moving data offsite could make it safer. But the opposite is true: Cyber criminals can more easily rely on attack vectors, such as malware and phishing emails, to gain access to data stored on your computer.
With the right processes and solutions in place, data stored in the cloud is more likely to be protected through encryption and additional layers of security that make it difficult for hackers to gain unauthorized access. As well as encryption and protection, cloud hosting offers multiple backups of key data to reduce the risk of data loss or costly downtime in the event of a disaster.
4. Enhanced Cost Management
Finally, cloud services enable businesses to reduce costs by eliminating upfront capital expenditures associated with purchasing and maintaining physical infrastructure and allowing them to pay only for what they use, scaling resources as needed. Labor and maintenance demands are also reduced, providing more IT personnel availability for organizational initiatives.
How to Develop a Cloud Transformation Strategy
Committing to cloud transformation may initially seem overwhelming, but potential pitfalls and challenges can be avoided with the proper preparation and planning. Some of the best practices to ensure a successful transformation include:
1. Conduct a Benchmarking Exercise
To begin, you will need to benchmark your organization against its competitors to better understand where your organization stands in terms of its capabilities or gaps. This exercise will help you determine where to invest your time, effort, and resources for maximum results.
2. Integrate IT and Business Goals and Strategies
Next, aligning business processes with IT is essential to any modern business, especially because the majority of organizations are now transitioning to new business models that emphasize digitalization of business processes and comprehensive cloud deployments.
Begin by determining your organization’s goals and the systems, technologies, and processes currently in use. Then, brainstorm and document objectives with representatives of affected departments to set priorities. Once you have defined your objectives, you need to develop a cloud migration roadmap to guide your implementation.
3. Choose the Right Cloud Hosting Platform
Entrusting a cloud provider with your data is a big decision. Thankfully, there are high-quality options available for businesses of all sizes and budgets. However, each platform will have varying capabilities, so it is imperative to evaluate each one to find the ideal fit for your organization’s goals.
At this point, you should determine what’s strategically valuable to your business. Some areas of comparison could include longevity and stability, level of administrative support, technology compatibility, ease of deployment and upgrades, security practices, and cost.
4. Establish Analytics for Monitoring and Optimization
Even after the initial migration, careful monitoring and optimization of cloud usage can often achieve additional efficiencies. In choosing which metrics to analyze, focus on those that will have the greatest impact on your bottom line or user experience. As an added benefit, consistently evaluating the health and performance of your system is essential for preventing defects or issues from proliferating.
5. Leverage a Data Governance Solution
Moving to the cloud will often also require a reevaluation of current data governance policies and processes. A data governance policy should lay out the methods, responsibilities, and processes involved in standardizing, integrating, protecting, and storing corporate data. It’s important to consider a solution that offers these capabilities with continuous improvement in mind. This will help automate and optimize efficiency so the organization can seamlessly transition their data from on-premises to the cloud.
For those who have or want to start a governance program, there is a growing number of tools and solutions to help plan, prioritize, manage and operationalize data governance and data stewardship. The most advanced tools incorporate machine learning to automate curation, relieving the burden from people.
6. Consider Cloud Security and Compliance
The success of a cloud transformation depends, last but not least, on the security of the cloud. Cloud security should therefore be prioritized as part of your overall strategy and roadmap. Conducting an impact analysis is often the first step toward understanding your organization’s security gaps and intended future state. A cloud data catalog, like Alation Cloud Service, can help with this by proactively identifying and mitigating the common risks associated with cloud migration. This enables users to prepare for issues that may happen, instead of responding to ones that do.
How Alation Can Help Accelerate Cloud Transformation
Deciding to transition to the cloud isn’t a decision to be taken lightly, but it can provide a wealth of benefits for companies who take the plunge. However, a company’s readiness plays an important role in determining whether their cloud migration will be successful. Often, the confidence that comes with expert migration support can be the deciding factor that empowers a business to begin the cloud transformation process.
If you are considering making the transition to the cloud, Alation is here to help. Alation can accelerate cloud implementation, reduce the risk of disruption, optimize cloud costs, and simplify the governance of cloud data. Sign up for a demo today to learn how Alation can help support your cloud transformation.