Cloud Data Management: Lessons from the Field

The One Cloud Question You Have to Answer

Cloud Data Management

Informatica is a data company, and that increasingly means we’re a cloud company. I spend a lot of time talking to CIOs, senior directors, and architects about the direction they’re taking with their data, and along with the drive toward enterprise-wide data management and integration, I hear about the benefits, and significant challenges, of migrating to the cloud.

Cloud was a big topic when I joined Informatica six years ago, and was still big when I took over our Strategic Services team almost three years ago. Yet as I meet customers today, “all things cloud” is still second only to “all things data.” That may be a surprise to some; after half a decade of intense hype, how is the journey to hybrid cloud, never mind the option to go cloud-first or cloud-only, still a top-of-mind concern in 2017?

Well, while the hype may have died down and we’ve come to take prominent early adopter success stories for granted, a lot of enterprises have taken a slower approach. In some industries—think healthcare and finance—an abundance of caution is vital. And across many fields, the burden of legacy systems and tight IT budgets has meant slow or halting starts to that cloud migration. Also, businesses are working through the challenges of not only integrating data across all the legacy silos throughout the organization (no mean feat in itself) but also reining in data that is now in cloud implementations.

Which brings us to this blog. I want to use “Cloud Data Management: Lessons from the Field” to address the specific data challenges that cloud technologies present—with an initial focus on why and how you go from an on-premise environment, perhaps with some isolated cloud applications, to a fully integrated hybrid ecosystem, with whatever blend of cloud and in-house solutions your business needs. And throughout, I’ll use my time in the field working with actual customer examples to illustrate how IT and business leaders are framing the challenges and finding solutions.

Cloud as strategy, not hype

Our customers mention a variety of reasons for expanding into the cloud. Some discuss cost savings. For many others, it’s mainly about getting out of the data center business to focus on core competencies. Of course, speed and agility for production and development are important. And for some, it’s about catching up to initial cloud steps such as adopting Salesforce or Workday or Marketo.

But across all conversations about strategic visions, the bottom line is the desire, or need, to make business better, faster, and more efficient. And there’s a vivid awareness that if you’re not looking aggressively at the cloud to drive your business forward, your competitors surely are.

Yet despite the many specific reasons, at the IT level, actual cloud implementation is often driven by an empty, generic technical mandate. When I talk to IT leaders about their cloud transformation efforts, my first question is, “Why are you doing this?” Too often, the answer is simply, “Because we’re moving to the cloud.”

That’s not a vision, and it’s definitely not strategic.

The core cloud question is about business, not IT

The question behind every cloud deployment, from your first foray to continued evolution, must be this: “How does this move to cloud enable our business goals?”

After that one, prime question, and before the million technical details of an implementation, come several related key questions:

  • How will you measure the cloud’s impact on business outcomes?
  • How does your cloud deployment tie into your strategic IT roadmap?
  • What are the tradeoffs, if any, of using cloud to pursue this particular goal?
  • How will you design your target architecture and what is your roadmap to get there?
  • What are the key connection points between data in the cloud and on-premise systems?

Many other questions arise as you go further, covering issues from resource monitoring and vendor management to compliance, disaster recovery and backup, and training. But all that follows the initial discussion of how the cloud will help the business, and how will you know it’s working?

I plan to dive into several of those questions in upcoming posts, starting with how you make sure that today’s cloud deployment(s) will fit into your overall goals for your IT architecture, and the business outcomes it serves. But before then, I’d like to hear from you. Please let me know if you agree or disagree with today’s blog post, or let me know if you have a cloud story/experience to share. You can share your comments below, or connect via Twitter @kevin_fleet.

Come join our Journey to Cloud virtual event, Feb. 28

We’ve assembled key cloud data management experts together with IT practitioners from leading companies to join our virtual event to share advice and best practices around moving to—and succeeding in—the cloud. Please register today for a free spot at the virtual event, happening on Feb. 28, 9 a.m. to noon, Pacific.