Four things to keep in mind when moving your data warehouse to the cloud

Data Warehouse and the CloudIt is no secret that the volume of data is exploding at an exponential rate. IDC predicts the world’s data will grow from 33 ZB in 2018 to 175 ZB by 2025 and 49 percent of that data will be stored in the public cloud. More organizations are turning to the cloud for their crucial data warehouses as they come to recognize that the benefits provided are no longer “nice to have” but rather, critical for business success.

Data warehouse environments have unique storage and computing requirements, stemming from the purpose they specifically serve: to enable analytics to make better business decisions. The data contained within them not only needs to be kept highly secure due its often very sensitive nature, but also easily accessible by a myriad of query engines and other big data tools. These warehouses are often viewed as the lifeblood of an organization, but are growing in complexity as they become counted on to support an increasing number of workloads, like financial reporting, quality, logistics, and specialized workloads from business units. This makes it a burden to manage, especially if maintained on-premises.

The benefits that the cloud can provide to both analysts and data administrators is only increasing. For any evaluating the cloud for its means of economical scalability, security, power and availability for your data warehouse, here are a few things to keep in mind as you explore this opportunity.

Scalability

The more of your resources that are moved to the cloud, including storage and computing, the less reliant your organization will be upon hardware and the burdens associated with maintaining it, starting with the huge CapEx costs required. Often, hardware vendors will recommend you make your buying decisions based on anticipated levels of maximum usage, most of which is never needed, resulting in unoptimized expense. One of the best known benefits of the cloud is the ability to break vendor lock-in and buy just what you need at the time, and to scale up and down to match those needs.

The cloud also gives the option of separating storage and compute, which is agreed upon to be the optimal setup, given that your data warehouse will continue to steadily grow. When investigating cloud service providers, make sure they offer an easy and economical path to scalability. If you’re worried about taking too big of a leap at once, you can start your cloud migration with a smaller data mart versus the whole warehouse. Once you’re satisfied with the provider’s performance, you can easily migrate more databases.

The same goes for computing power. Similar with the storage side, select a provider that will allow you to scale up or down depending on your computing needs and peak usage times. It is not cost effective to pay for computing power to perform analytics during weekends, holidays or other low-usage times.

Availability of data and power

Another benefit of the cloud is availability. The point of a data warehouse is to make analytic capabilities accessible to multiple users to help guide decision making. When trusting a vendor to be a steward of your resources, their promise to ensure availability and uptime is paramount. Analysts not being able to access data quickly leads to lost productivity and revenue. Again, it’s also not just storage, but computing power as well. There must also be enough muscle to not only support workloads, but also enable them to be completed fast. As hinted before, time is money when it comes to analyzing data.

When evaluating providers, make sure they have computing resources in place to ensure that they can meet their SLAs (service level agreements), no matter what happens on their end of the plumbing. They should be able to create an environment that can support hundreds or thousands of concurrent users and their workloads, regardless of in which business unit or department they are located.

Security

While cloud security still tops the priority list for IT leaders, the market maturation and the amount of resources and money public cloud providers have dedicated to their infrastructures should put this argument to rest for good. And with good reason, for a data warehouse-as-a-service must be locked down and secure to even enter the conversation as an option, especially in highly regulated industries like healthcare.

The starting point for regulatory compliance is with complete, end-to-end encryption of data, both in-transit and at-rest, which KeyInfo and all our Converge partners provide. When evaluating services, make sure your vendor has gone beyond just doing the bare, NIST minimum to secure data and computing environments. Also keep in mind, while your provider will secure the perimeter of your data warehouse, you are still responsible for threats that may infiltrate your local environments, which can lead to access to your cloud-based warehouse.

Specialization in your industry

Many service providers specialize in different vertical industries giving them much more hands-on knowledge in them. These cloud providers are uniquely attuned to individual industries and can provide stronger services than commodity cloud providers.

Make sure you know in which industry your vendor may specialize and if it isn’t your vertical, they can refer you to another in their network who does. For example, KeyInfo is extremely experienced in working with healthcare organizations and therefore knows the specific requirements of critical healthcare workloads that are unique to this industry, like EMR solutions, billing systems, and other clinical databases. Your provider should be able to advise on specialized requirements like role-based access control (RBAC) and ensuring that big data engines can query the right data sources, while remaining compliant.

Under the hood

At KeyInfo, we’ve modeled our capabilities after industry best practices. We know where organizations are headed in their digital journeys and how we can help them get there. We, like many of our partners in the Converge network, have IBM Power under the hood, which let’s us give our customers the options of scalability, reliability and security. Not only that, but as the name suggests, we can also give our customers the horsepower they need to perform fast analysis of data.

Our work with IBM provides the best combination of features so that we can offer fast and powerful solutions that are easily integrated into any enterprise hybrid infrastructure. Most importantly, it enables us to easily exceed our customers’ expectations who have trusted us to provide leading storage and computing abilities.

When forming your strategy on where to store and process your big data workloads, whether you choose to go cloud native or implement a hybrid approach, be sure you have investigated what benefits, and pitfalls, your provider can create for you. Look under the hood and make sure they have reputable equipment to support their promises. And make sure their strategy for housing, securing and maintaining uptime matches your own.

Interested in what you can accomplish with IBM Power? What are you waiting for?

 

Ronaldo Möntmann
CIO Advisor
Converge Technology Solutions