Unlocking the Power of Data in the Cloud

Migrating your data from legacy systems to the cloud can reduce operational and compliance costs while also helping you to gain invaluable insight from your data assets.

Data is a major driving force in today’s modern economy and fuels innovation in businesses. We are seeing a fundamental shift in the use of data as organisations strive to utilise the power of cloud for data management while remaining compliant with legislative and sectoral rules.

The use of data plays an increasing role in designing, delivering and transforming public services to improve outcomes and drive efficiencies within current financial constraints but there are still many organisations, particularly in the public sector, who have substantial amounts of data that is not being utilised to its full potential.

The Data Problem

Data is the lifeblood of digital services and the organisations they support, yet, often data is stored in solutions that are built on legacy technology which prevents organisations getting the most from their data. As understanding of cloud grows and cloud products and services themselves evolve, it is now more feasible than ever for organisations to optimise their data.

It cannot be denied that these changes are creating a landscape where organisations want to improve but are unsure where to start. Most of the organisations we speak to are grappling with one or more of the following issues:

Legacy System Failure

Organisations who are at risk of their legacy systems failing rendering critical systems down and critical data unavailable. This can be the result of limited or no on-going investment over the years so systems are running on poorly supported, brittle software and hardware. This problem is compounded over the years as systems get older and the investment required replace or transform them grows.

Cost of Maintaining Legacy

As with the risk of failure, the cost of maintaining these legacy systems is also a well-known challenge. Legacy systems are costing organisations 10-15% more per year for maintenance alone. Keeping old computers going costs government £2.3bn a year, some of which date back 30 years or more and it doesn’t end there. A Cabinet Office report warns that government could end up spending between £13bn and £22bn over the next five years on obsolete systems.

Legacy is Difficult to Integrate

Many organisations run in to difficulty when trying to integrate and leverage value from their data. Whether this is to facilitate self-service for their users, reduce the level of manually data processing or simply to use data to support timely, strategic decision making, being able to integrate this data is critical. The National Audit Office reported that use of data has been crucial to the government’s Covid-19 response, but that the timely sharing of data has not always occurred.

Compliance Issues

Conversely, having data you don’t fully understand or is a risk to businesses. Legislation such as GDPR puts organisations under pressure to ensure they have a clear, well documented view of data flow and retention, particularly when it comes to personally identifiable information (PII). Many systems currently operational within the public sector were designed and built long before the current compliance regimes such as Data Protection Act 2018 and PCI DSS v3.2.1 were written. If these solutions have not continued to evolve to maintain compliance then the effort to remain so increases over time.

Is Cloud the answer?

The short answer is yes. However, like all things, it is not a silver bullet and a lot of consideration and planning is required to ensure that you maximise your cloud investment. When done well, operating in the cloud can result in:

Reduced compliance costs

The cloud allows many of our customers to leverage high powered data transformation, analysis and visualisation services on their data to quickly and cheaply report on data classification, quality and content to test and verify compliance.

Reduced operational costs

The deployment and operation of data services is not a cheap option particularly where this is required only for short periods of time such as periods of migration or reporting cycles – being able to use these on a pay as you go basis when required and not having to support all the underlying infrastructure can have a major impact on operational costs, particularly on total cost of ownership

Greater flexibility in solutions to support on-going business changes

Using what you need, when you need it is at the heart of cloud commodity usage. This model of usage is ideal in support of flexibility as organisations can pivot to new more suitable solutions as their needs change.

A Future Proof Solution

Modern, cloud native solutions are more likely to integrate to existing and future systems, products and services without the need for customer to pay for expensive customisations.

The Challenges of Data Migration

Migrating data to the cloud is not without its challenges. One of the first obstacles you must overcome is understanding what you currently have and what your options are for change. Thankfully, many other organisations have already been down this road which has led to several established processes and tools from suppliers such as Amazon, Microsoft and Google. These tools can quickly and efficiently establish how suitable current solutions are for migration to cloud. These tools can look deep into highly complex systems such as Oracle databases and analyse table structures, feature use and even PL/SQL code. This type of analysis has been critical for organisations to understand the correct direction of travel for their data. In some cases this has provided the basis for the business case to replace current systems with cloud native ones and only migrate the data. In other cases it indicates not only the viability of operating using cloud commodities but which ones to use.

Reject the Status-Quo

The bigger challenge, however, is that recognising that the as-is situation is no longer viable. We speak to many organisations who have become expert in keeping systems alive which can make admitting that the time, effort, cost and risk of operating these systems a hard pill to swallow. Being honest about the security, supportability, stability and flexibility of as-is systems requires courage. Creating an environment where people feel safe to be open and honest is vital.

Beware hidden costs

When reviewing your current systems, it is easy to forget about the on-going software support and licenses charges that are being paid, year in year out. When considering the costs of a new solution, whatever it may be, it is important that you factor in what savings you may be making long term moving away from a licensing model to a cloud, “pay for what you use” type model.

Achieving Data Migration Success

The key to successfully migrating data to the cloud is having access to the right knowledge and expertise right at the beginning of the project. This could mean recruiting the right team of people or working with a partner who specialises in this area. Many organisations we work with take a hybrid approach, choosing to engage with a partner initially, helping them to hit the ground running and accelerate delivery while they develop the skills and expertise in house. Whatever option you choose, make sure you have the right expertise on board before discovery and requirements gathering as this stage is critical to understanding the options for migration, re-platforming or system replacement.

Cloud is giving us unprecedented access to power and technology previously out of reach of most organisations and doing so at an affordable price. If organisations are willing to take a critical look at their as-is environment and identify what is possible then they can migrate their data to the cloud and in doing so can obtain flexible, sustainable and cost effective IT delivery.



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