If your analytics practice is not in the cloud, you’re running behind

Organisations are increasingly reliant on data and analytics as a cornerstone of their operations.

As we discussed in the previous article, data and analytics are core to the adoption of artificial intelligence (AI), and where data analytics was once held closely by the data science team, organisations are now finding value in opening it up to a wide cross-section of stakeholders within the organisation.

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That broadening application of analytics will drive a rapid growth rate over the next decade. Much of that growth will come as a consequence of transformation projects. Specifically, organisations will look to shift their applications and analytics to the cloud, to leverage the benefits of increased agility, a greater capacity for innovation, and reduced costs.

Moving analytics and applications to the cloud requires careful management. In addition to managing security risk, another challenge for many organisations involves deciding what form of cloud migration best suits their specific workloads and applications.

Helping organisations to deliver on the potential of transformation has been core to SAS' business, much like how its success in working with customers has come from its flexibility. Whether managed by SAS directly, or integrated into an IaaS platform, SAS' environment is fully optimised for cloud-based analytics. The company also supports quick-start container deployments and BYO license agreements with third parties to enable seamless and rapid transitions, which is critical for organisations that want to minimise disruption as they make the shift to the new platform.

Thinking about making the move to the cloud

SAS also works closely with organisations to help them understand the different approaches that a migration to the cloud might take. There are three techniques that CIOs might consider and all have their merits and drawbacks. Understanding the right "fit" for that organisation's environment is the key to success here.

1)    Rehost (Lift and shift) -- This is where data and applications are simply shifted from being housed within the on-site data centre and dropped into cloud infrastructure. To users within the organisation, the experience of accessing and using that data will be no different, though the drawback to the lift and shift approach is that the organisation will not take advantage of the unique capabilities that the cloud offers. There are also potential compatibility issues with legacy applications being moved to the cloud.

2)    Replatform -- In this case, data remains in the cloud as before. However, applications are also "modernised" and placed within the cloud environment, which means the processing of the data is also done via the cloud. An organisation would also have to use containerisation technology as part of this process, as the container can package the entire runtime environment into a single logical unit.

3)    Repurchasing -- Rather than just moving data and applications to the cloud, repurchasing  "retires" legacy applications as they're not compatible with a cloud environment (or are too challenging to make work). This means organisations need to shift to new applications. This involves the most significant change management process within the organisation but it can also result in the most modern environment to leverage and scale going forward.

Key questions about migration strategy

CIOs should be asking themselves, and their partners, the following questions ahead of any shift of data and analytics to the cloud, with the understanding that preparedness and having the outcomes clearly in mind from the outset underpins the success of all transformation initiatives:

1)    What should we migrate, and in what order? Every migration needs to begin with a thorough assessment of the existing applications and data environment, and an analysis of the performance and security concerns of moving to the cloud.

2)    What impact will the migration have? The CIO needs to understand the drivers behind making a migration and the impact that it will have on the business. Whether the migration is a strategic play or an effort to reduce costs and improve efficiencies will adjust the right approach to take to the migration.

3)    How will we maintain governance and security through the migration? Security concerns are one of the most common ways in which a migration strategy is put on ice. Understanding the risk profiles and determining how to maintain governance throughout, are key considerations.

4)    What change management is required? Most cloud migrations are being done to improve access and use of data in some way. This generally requires some kind of change management programmer to onboard staff. This should be considered ahead of the project commencing.

Choosing the right partners for migration projects is critical. You want proven expertise and a history of successful and productive migrations. SAS has been able to provide organisations with the balance of choice and control across all data and analytics migrations. From streamlining data access, preparation and quality while ensuring that the proper controls are in place, through to deploying analytics into production in such a manner that value is realised immediately, SAS helps organisations realise a more productive, efficient, and innovative environment immediately.

Read more information on Migrating Analytics to the Cloud.