Learn how data integration in the cloud offers savings, interoperability, flexibility, resilience and security.
The following is a guest piece by Kevin Kline, Principal Program Manager at SentryOne. He has authored this piece as part of our Data Champions Program. If you’re interested in contributing to or learning more about our Data Champions program, please get in touch.
Cloud computing is a well-established IT option for businesses of all sizes in the modern era, but there are still plenty of organizations that have remained reticent about adoption.
If you are in this camp, here is a look at a few of the reasons that migrating an on-premise data warehouse to the cloud may make a lot of sense, in addition to the other contexts in which the cloud could be a better fit for your business.
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Perhaps the most important benefit of moving data integration to the cloud is allowing firms to minimize IT costs at a time when budgets may already be stretched thin.
There are various ways in which the cloud drives down costs, such as by eliminating the need to buy expensive hardware up front and then pay to house, maintain and upgrade it over time. If you store your data on the premise, you may end up building and maintaining an entire data center. This involves hardware acquisition, constant maintenance (staff and piece replacements), energy bills, backup systems, and more.
On the other hand, data integration in the cloud outsources this burden to a provider. You are effectively taking yourself out of the hardware arms race and relying on the provider to shoulder these costs and complications.
Scalability is also an element of the cloud that makes it more affordable and appealing to businesses. Rather than be limited by the in-house resources that you have available, you can accommodate the peaks and troughs of usage that will naturally occur over time with ease. This is particularly beneficial for businesses that see seasonal spikes in activity, interspersed with slower periods where there is less need for an expansive IT ecosystem.
Another challenge that comes with relying on legacy hardware and in-house setups is making sure that every aspect of your infrastructure is cross-compatible. This can lead to a lot of headaches and also limit your options in terms of upgrade paths.
On the other hand, the cloud is capable of an impressive degree of device agnosticism, often achieved by making use of browser-based dashboards and software solutions rather than locally installed programs on individual devices to get the job done.
For instance, an in-house setup that works on an SQL database will require an SQL Server local installation, with Tableau as a client. While this setting can be useful for specific cases, most businesses don’t require the entire setup (which can be extensive). Also, the installation and setup is time-consuming and can get quite expensive. Not to mention that you’ll need help from a specialized team to make all the settings and keep your data secure, accessible, and reliable.
If you compare the experience of running a local database and interface with the web interface provided by Snowflake or Looker, it’s clear which one is more convenient. A cloud interface is easily accessible from any location, doesn’t require special installation, and can run on any device that supports a browser.
This kind of interoperability is particularly conducive to flexible working policies, allowing your business to adapt to changing circumstances on the fly and give employees the option to stay connected with mission-critical apps and data no matter where they are.
Another aspect of cloud migration that is worth discussing is that it does not need to be an all-or-nothing decision; indeed many businesses that adopt cloud solutions do so while still retaining certain on-site resources.
Security concerns and performance requirements are among the main reasons why some companies are happier with a hybrid solution. For instance, companies that deal with sensitive information may want them stored locally. Local storage also helps increase accessibility from a specific location.
Furthermore, businesses in heavily regulated industries (healthcare or finances) can’t use public cloud space because of legal reasons. The cloud company is considered a third party in this situation, and the locations of the servers and company headquarters matter a great deal.
In such cases, it is possible to take a hybrid approach to cloud adoption, combining the best elements of public cloud services with the most desirable aspects of private cloud infrastructures. This allows you to have your cake and eat it too, rather than being forced into a holistic migration of services to the cloud which may not be ideal depending on the size and nature of your organization.
Server downtime is a major concern for many businesses and prolonged outages can be catastrophic. If continuity is a priority for your firm, it makes sense to move to the cloud where the responsibility for keeping vital hardware up and running no matter what will be in the hands of a provider dedicated to achieving the ultimate in terms of IT resilience.
The same is true from a security standpoint since cloud providers are much better able to protect the data of their customers. They have access to vast resources and specialists and are better equipped to prevent emerging threats from causing chaos.
Security breaches and data leaks are a growing concern in today’s world. Ill-intended actors actively seek out vulnerabilities, and SMBs (small and medium-sized businesses) are quite exposed because they lack proper protection systems and tools.
It takes more than a good antivirus system and up-to-date systems to overcome an attack. Also, businesses need to invest in specialized help that can be easily accessible in case of an event. This means increased costs in IT security.
However, if you use a secure and reliable cloud space, the security and updates are included in the monthly/yearly fee. You don’t have to lose sleep over security issues as the data is safe in the cloud.
According to this report, cloud migration helped Evernote to establish a better level of security and encryption.
Ultimately, every business will approach cloud adoption in a different way. But the question of whether you should consider making the move has been answered with a resounding "yes."
Kevin serves as Principal Program Manager at SentryOne. He is a founder and former president of PASS and the author of popular IT books like SQL in a Nutshell. Kevin is a renowned database expert, software industry veteran, Microsoft SQL Server MVP, and longtime blogger at SentryOne. As a noted leader in the SQL Server community, Kevin blogs about Microsoft Data Platform features and best practices, SQL Server trends, and professional development for data professionals.