You have finally decided to move your data into the cloud. Whether it was the ability to leverage the power of cloud compute, the promise of cost-savings or the scalability and flexibility that a cloud data warehouse can bring, it’s important to have a strategy in place. In order to set yourself up for success, here is a list of questions that will help you organize your data and ensure your data migration efforts provide business value.
What Is the Outcome I Need to Achieve?
When you are creating a data migration strategy, you need to have an end goal in mind in order to make the best decisions on technology and approach. Simply getting your data into the cloud won’t be enough to take action on that data.
How Many Data Sources Do We Currently Have?
Once you have your outcome in mind, take a comprehensive inventory of all your data sources before you begin the migration process. It reduces your risk of discovering halfway through the process that you have no access to a data source–or that you forgot to include it in your migration plan.
Who Is the Administrator of Each Data Source?
It is likely that you may not have access to every single data source that you are looking to migrate. Make sure to find out who can provide you with access to that data, and fully understand your requests. This person will be able to explain the necessary requirements for that data source and will be your contact to help integrate that source into your migration efforts.
What Data Is Most Important to My Key Stakeholders, and What Do They Consider Important in Getting that Data?
This question might also be: What are the KPIs that drive the business from the data sources? You’ll need to have a good grasp on the metrics that are used for business-critical KPIs so that you have the right data in the cloud to ultimately be transformed for analysis. For example, a retailer might value click-through-rate on emails as a key indicator of attribution for sales data. In order for them to get that information, they would need to provide data from their email marketing system and their eCommerce platform. Keep stakeholders involved in the success and failure criteria of your project so they can help set you up for success. Identify the system of record for the metrics that each KPI is calculated from. Quite often, more than one system in your organization can have a representation for that key metric, but with different values. Align with the related stakeholders as to which is the system of record in those cases.
How Can I Show Business Impact Quickly?
A proof of concept (PoC) in the cloud is always associated with the desire to show results quickly, as the speed and performance that the cloud brings means that you should be able to move faster, right? Asking yourself what you can do to help the business recognize the value of your project can help you assuage any productivity concerns. To create a quick PoC, start by first identifying a small number of typical use cases to test out. Picking a high-value KPI that is calculated from metrics from well known source systems could be a good candidate for that first iteration.
What Are My Security Concerns?
Considering that the cloud can house petabytes of data that enterprise companies collect every day, it is safe to assume that some of that information will be sensitive and confidential. Ask yourself if the data you migrate contains personally identifiable information (PII) and if that information is necessary for the project you are working on. In most cases, PII is not needed for analytics work and therefore, you wouldn’t need to migrate that. You might need to know the brand of a credit card to make a data-driven business decision but perhaps not the actual credit card numbers.
Who Has Access to My Data Now that It Is in the Cloud?
If you are migrating sensitive data into the cloud, these are the security and compliance requirements that come into play. How much data security management you entrust to a cloud provider entirely depends on the needs and requirements of your business. There are several different security models, some of which give you more control, some that hand-off that control to cloud providers—it is important to choose the model that works best for your business. Ensure the vendors you use are SOC II compliant and have all the necessary certifications in place to keep your data safe. Work with your organization’s security group on this. They may have defined an overarching Enterprise Cloud Strategy which can help to provide guidance around the acceptable use of cloud resources for your analytics workloads.
What Do I Do with My Data Once It’s in My Cloud Data Warehouse?
Once your data is in the cloud, what do you plan to do with it? Create a strategy to structure your data in the correct way for your business outcome. Different cloud-built technologies can help structure your data for analytics, prepare your data for machine learning or artificial intelligence projects, or perform data cleansing so you have the most accurate data available. It is important to remember that different cloud data warehouses, data integration tools and data visualization products need to complement one another. Make sure you build your stack for your project to ensure success.
How Do I Save Costs in the Cloud?
In addition to faster time to value, one of the main reasons companies migrate data to the cloud is to save costs. But, how can you ensure you are saving costs while migrating data? You can take advantage of free trials offered by many purpose-built cloud data tools that allow you to allocate, compute and storage as needed. The beauty of a cloud data warehouse is that you don’t need to provision for future workloads. As your needs grow, you can scale up easily and manage costs effectively. Try to avoid using multiple products that do similar things. This will reduce cost, increase adoption of the products and keep your architecture simple.
Is My Team Equipped to Handle Cloud Migration?
Cloud data migration is different than on-prem migration and in such, you and your team will be using technology that you haven’t used in the past. To set your team up for success, inquire about their comfortability using the tools you’ve selected and ensure they have the level of access needed to do their jobs efficiently. If there are gaps in knowledge, you can look to provide the training to help them get up to speed and make onboarding as painless as possible.
If you answer these ten questions, you will be on the right track to begin your cloud data migration project. Keep your business goals in mind and start small—the flexibility of the cloud allows you to scale your project later if needed.