Forecast: Cloudy with a chance of good data management

Managing data in the cloud can be tricky and expensive and IT teams need to find ways to make data highly searchable, especially when cloud environments are becoming increasingly complex

The journey to the cloud is one many, if not most, organisations are taking to increase business and IT agility and modernise outdated data centres. However, the journey to the cloud isn’t a clear path for most and its complexities are numerous.

Some of paths involve migrating apps to the cloud or even replacing the apps altogether so that they are compatible with the cloud environment. The rise of data-intensive apps and infrastructure migrations to the cloud has made digital transformation a high priority for organisations. According to Gartner, 47 percent of CEOs are being pushed to make progress in digital business. But before IT teams depart on their cloud journey there’s just a few issues that they need to understand first.

There appears to be a general lack of understanding as to why moving to the cloud actually benefits an organisation. Before IT teams begin to build out their cloud, hybrid, or multi-cloud environments, they first need to understand how the infrastructure will impact their data access and related applications.

Most companies have thousands of applications and IT often need to relearn or rewrite them before migrating any of them to the cloud. A common example is an application that previously stored data in a network attached storage (NAS) and now needs to speak a different protocol to access object storage in the cloud. A smooth cloud migration requires proper planning and the right platform.

Object tiering

Managing data in the cloud can be tricky and expensive and IT teams need to find ways to make data highly searchable, especially when cloud environments are becoming increasingly complex. While it’s easy, and mostly affordable to move data to the cloud, getting that same data back out can be exorbitantly more expensive. The accumulation of aged data can lead to a ‘zombie’ cloud service that has little or no utilisation if services are not managed in a timely manner. Zombie clouds accrue costs and contribute to server sprawl. Apply this scenario to a hybrid or multi-cloud context and you can rack up a lot of unnecessary costs.

One way to reduce spending on cloud resources is to implement object tiering to optimise data in the cloud on or off-premises. Object tiering lets you sort through data and move any defunct or inactive (cold) data from the server. This way, you can keep the cloud free for active data and avoid using excessive processing power. Object tiering also allows data to be automatically, and transparently, offloaded to cloud storage while keeping all metadata locally present. The data is also encrypted, ensuring a secure journey to and from the cloud.

This gives companies real-time performance of active (hot) data, as well as a low-cost alternative to managing cold data – the best of both worlds. And it’s completely automated. Companies can achieve this without having to actively manage and move data and without applications being aware and written for different data systems. Additionally, this also removes the need for archiving software and cloud gateways, eliminating further complexities for IT teams. Overall, object tiering offers a smarter approach to cost-effectively managing data and is key to executing a smooth cloud adoption.

Avoiding data sprawl

The mass movement to a multi-cloud world is imminent. While some can move to a single cloud environment, the vast majority of companies’ will have to pursue multi-cloud strategies. This is because certain workloads work better in certain cloud environments and most companies don’t decide to do one big cloud migration project. It’s a gradual, agile and mistake-laden process.

When apps and data are spread across multiple cloud services, companies can end up with silos of data and analytics, which impede productivity and impact data integrity. To reduce the risks of data sprawl, IT need to think beyond consolidating data in one place when it lives outside the on-premises data centre., They also need to think about how to effectively connect data and analytics across multiple cloud environments.

Connecting data and analytics can reduce the risk of data sprawl, but the question is how IT teams can achieve this. Utilising a platform like the converged data platform (CDP) can enable IT teams to run clusters of data worldwide and have access to a consolidated view into files that are in different physical locations. This gives IT teams the ability to avoid data silos that result in data sprawl.

To further reduce the costs of managing data in the cloud, IT need to avoid rewriting software every time an application has a new destination for a particular cloud provider, data centre, or a new platform inside their cloud provider. This costly process can be removed by future-proofing applications by writing them to a CDP once.

Security

Among the many complexities facing companies as they journey to the cloud is security. Although the majority of cloud providers understand security in the cloud and are compliant with all the regulations, it’s vital that companies take security into their own hands. This is why it’s important that companies use data platforms that have built-in security features with encryption, access control, and risk management unified across all the various applications and data to ensure consistencies in policies.

If companies fail to implement the right platform and security measures, they risk data breaches, malware attacks, denial of service attacks and other attacks that may compromise sensitive information. Companies need to be proactive with cloud security and shouldn’t just rely on the cloud provider to do the right thing. Platforms like the CDP can offer companies unified data protection, which is a smarter solution to securely managing multiple cloud environments. Simply put, if IT teams wish to make the journey to the cloud, they first need to be equipped with the right platform.

Ridhav Mahajan is an ANZ solution architect at MapR Technologies

 

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