Migrating to the cloud: The five key advantages

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It’s hardly surprising that the worldwide public cloud services market has boomed in recent years. Spurred on by the growth of the Internet of Things (IoT), there are a staggering 2.5 quintillion bytes of data created each day. Storing, analysing and exploiting data has become critical for businesses to survive in the modern era of ‘big data’, and the only way of achieving this is in the cloud.

Businesses across the globe are looking to capitalise on cloud computing and embrace the benefits offered by migrating to a cloud-based data warehouse. So what exactly are the advantages?

Seamless simplicity

One of the most compelling reasons to migrate to the cloud is the simplicity it offers. Businesses can streamline their operations through cloud computing without compromising on efficiency or functionality. Employees working in the cloud can collectively work on the same document or programme without duplicating effort, and this is true no matter what location or time zone they are working in.

Furthermore, it’s also true that many cloud services don’t even require a database administrator or highly skilled IT staff. Cloud solutions are becoming increasingly automated and, once in place, require minimal technical assistance. This enables businesses to focus on actual business, rather than being bogged down by admin processes.

Elasticity to enable analytics

Before the cloud arrived, traditional data warehouses were simply not built for the sheer volume, velocity and variety of modern data. In the modern age data is becoming ever more complex and varied, yet businesses must still attempt to store and collate this data effectively. One of the biggest challenges for companies worldwide is to ensure that their diverse data structures can co-exist together as a single source of truth, with continuity. This is where a cloud-based data warehouse comes to the fore.

Cloud based services are not constrained by the physical space of an on premises data centre. A cloud data warehouse provides massive scalability, and can increase the storage from gigabytes to petabytes, independent of the compute resources needed to analyse the data. This provides for a hugely flexible storage and processing architecture to deal with future demands.

Fundamentally, organisations must utilise their data by conducting extensive data analysis. The benefits of data analysis are numerous, however an astounding 70 per cent of UK organisations are still failing to extract value from big data. A cloud-based data warehouse is ideal for data exploration due to its on-demand, elastic scalability. Most companies are required to incorporate new data to update reports and dashboards in real-time. The process of ingesting this streaming data cannot be possible without the cloud. The ability to quickly upscale hardware, and securely store infinite data volumes, makes the cloud the perfect location for Big Data analytics.

Cost effective scalability

A data warehouse engineered for the cloud can adapt to usage on a per-second basis, flexibly matching the exact usage pattern of the organisation with the “right” amount of capacity. Scalability achieved through the cloud can provide data analytics, whilst also saving companies’ money.

Unlike an on-premise solution which needs significant up-front capital expenditure, cloud based services are charged on a pay-as-you-go basis, and some even charge per-second billing. This approach avoids the massive “overbuy” that many organisations struggle with when they resize their data warehouse but must license an oversized instance to prepare for data growth in the future.

Maximise security with the cloud

With data breaches on the rise, companies are increasingly searching for ways to safeguard their data. These breaches can have a heavy economic impact on organisations, especially as companies that lose data face fines of up to four per cent of their global revenues, under GDPR.

Opting for an on premises data warehouse can be tremendously costly and complex. This is because you are solely responsible for your own data security, which requires constant attention and monitoring. Fortunately, migrating to a cloud-based data warehouse delivers security and regulation, without draining staff resources. Despite initial concerns, it’s widely accepted that cloud-based services are almost certainly more secure than custom built solutions. An effective, modern data warehouse will support multilevel, role-based access control (RBAC). This will protect data confidentiality by ensuring users are only permitted to see data which they have been given access.    

In addition, many cloud data warehousing services also provide always-on data encryption, and AWS PrivateLink connectivity to transfer data privately avoiding the public internet. This upholds the integrity of your company’s data by ensuring it isn’t corrupted or modified.

Embrace data sharing

There’s no limit to how businesses can engage and collaborate with data. Data has become the new currency for success as organisations can use it to learn more about all aspects of their business operations. Analysing data sets will allow businesses to forecast trends, learn more about their customers, track business results with ease and effectively develop their products.

Traditionally data sharing has been a cumbersome process. It would require data sharers to download a copy of their data and share it with data consumers. They would then be required to download it for themselves in order to analyse. Furthermore, data consumers may need to combine this data with their existing data, thus creating even more copies.

Data sharing in the cloud simplifies and speeds up this whole process by cutting out the need for downloading and sending endless copies of data. Data consumers can simply access data through the cloud and immediately enjoy the benefits of access.

As a result, new business models and market opportunities have emerged. Companies that embrace the data sharing ecosystem through the cloud are already experiencing an advantage over competitors. These companies can create new business assets through their easy-to-access, real-time data. Data within a data provider will be just as valuable to thousands of external, non-competing data consumers as it is to themselves.

It’s no surprise that an increasing number of businesses, both start-ups and multinationals, are making the leap to the cloud. Research from the Cloud Industry Forum (CIF) revealed that the overall cloud adoption rate in the UK now stands at 88 per cent. With the era of big data upon us, this trend is unlikely to dissipate.

John Ryan, Data Warehouse Solution Architect, Snowflake
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