The Hybrid Landscape: Planning The Path To Cloud Migration Success
January 12, 2021

Jeff Veis
Actian

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Data can be hard — knowing where to get it, where to store it, and most importantly, how to use it, are all questions enterprises need to answer. For most companies, this is an ongoing process in which multiple factors and challenges have arisen.

In the Actian Datacast 2020: Hybrid Data Trends Snapshot, we shed light on the challenges of cloud migration and how organizations are leveraging data. Surveying over 300 Chief Information Officers (CIOs) — the IT Decision Makers (ITDMs), and Chief Data Officers (CDOs) — the Data Decision Makers (DDMs), a few key takeaways emerged:

■ Hybrid landscapes are unavoidable

■ There are unexpected complications with cloud migrations

■ Many lessons have been, and continue to be, learned

■ DDMs have very real concerns around data migration

■ ITDMs, DDMs and their teams are challenged in working together

Embracing the Hybrid Landscape

For many enterprises, hybrid environments are unavoidable. Due to the large amount of data these companies already have in existing systems, as well as the various compliance requirements they are mandated to abide by, a cloud-only strategy is not always a viable option. In fact, 85% of enterprises surveyed stated that they have data both on-premise and in the cloud.

Perhaps surprisingly, less than 10% IT departments surveyed have more than 5% of their data in the cloud. This is primarily due to security concerns, cost predictability, regulatory and compliance issues, legacy applications, and budget allocated to the maintenance of existing data warehouses.

For these businesses, cloud migration is an ongoing conversation and requires executives to weigh multiple factors — from existing investments, to skill sets, to service delivery practices — before making the move.

Unexpected Complications with Cloud Migration

The original hype around the cloud included ease of migration, flexibility of use, and dramatic cost savings. Unfortunately, the reality of the cloud has not always lived up to the expectations, particularly around data security, real-time reporting and predictable cost savings.

Regardless of the key driver for moving to the cloud, 70% of ITDMs experienced challenges during the move, while 59% experienced many more complications than they originally anticipated. In fact, less than 20% of ITDMs stated they had a seamless cloud migration experience. Comparing these statistics, companies have a higher probability of hitting roadblocks than having a perfectly smooth experience, so something to consider and be prepared for.

While in many cases digital transformation has been equated to cloud migration, the requirements and needs of one business often do not match those of a different company. The digital transformation journey of each company is unique, and the chosen cloud strategy should reflect an organization's specific needs.

Lessons Learned from Cloud Migration

In looking back at past migration efforts, more organizations are realizing just how unique and varied transformation is, even across their own business units. In fact, 63% of ITDMs stated they would handle the migration process differently the second time around. For instance, 37% said they underestimated the project complexity, 29% said they did too much at once, and 27% said that they did not sufficiently understand the tools.

To combat these would-be challenges in the future, ITDMs need complete visibility into potential complexities before beginning the journey, and must better understand the importance of adequate preparation, workload selection, education and support.

Ultimately, a cloud migration journey should benefit the company — whether from a cost saving, compliance, security, or other business requirements. If that means taking a bit more time at the beginning to choose the proper cloud strategy that works best, then build that into your roadmap from the start.

The Top Concerns of Data Decision Makers

The desire for real-time data analytics was most often cited as the driver for cloud migration, according to the survey. However, even with so much data at our fingertips, many organizations are still not using that data to its fullest potential.

Nearly 6 in 10 DDMs said they are spending more time, rather than less, on traditional reporting. And while traditional reporting can still drive business impact it was reported that only slightly over half of the data available is actually being used to drive impactful business decisions. This means nearly half of an organization's date is being "left on the table."

IT and Data Teams - Working Together

Due to the proliferation of data that enterprises experience, its effective use comes from IT and data teams working together. Here the survey reveals a "tale of two cities" with IT teams being more likely to say they work well with the data team, while data teams are more likely to say that the two teams have material differences. At the core of this difference of perception is a core misunderstanding of each other's needs and constraints. For instance, DDMs state security and timely data as the top two challenges they experience when working with the IT team — they don't understand why it's so hard to have ready and secure access to the data they need.

As the needs and requirements of each of these teams continues to change, particularly within the IT organization, the skills needed will also change. Over time, this shift is likely to result in closing the gap of understanding between providers and consumers of data.

Data is both our greatest commodity and greatest challenge. Understanding what a specific organization needs in terms of cloud strategy, and the best course of action for implementing that strategy, is the pathway to success. Given the impacts from the pandemic, and other factors, agility is paramount to today's data driven enterprise, but so is cost containment, system complexity and capability. Take the time to plot out the strategy that is most beneficial to the company — a hybrid roadmap is likely what will get you to the next level.

Jeff Veis is CMO at Actian
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