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Migrating data to the cloud? A burning question for the CIO

Migrating data to the cloud? A burning question for the CIO

Currently, many organisations are looking towards cloud as a 'silver bullet' for their data storage challenges. However, it is interesting to note that many of those already in the cloud are looking to leave it (a.k.a. 'repatriation'). Why, one may ask? Well, two reasons come to the fore: cloud frequently fails to deliver on the expected cost savings, and security still remains a concern due to massive cloud data breaches. Moreover, companies are seeing monthly cloud payments increasing rapidly.

As a result, CIOs are now grappling with whether to migrate data into the cloud. However, there are ways to achieve this, while maintaining data sovereignty, using intelligent data storage solutions.

The unwanted surprise... it's the hidden cost and security concerns of the cloud

A common pain point for businesses that have already utilised the cloud, is moving from one cloud provider to another or moving from a cloud-based environment to an on-premise environment. For example, cloud vendors charge an exit penalty fee (egress tax) for removing your data, which is prohibitive resulting in cloud service provider 'lock in'.

Conversely, it is also common practice for service providers to offer better pricing to new customers rather than to existing customers. However, a multi-cloud strategy can help mitigate some of these risks, but it adds complexity and potentially increases costs, while making data repatriation even more difficult. In addition, there is also a risk associated with moving data, as it must be secured during any transitions.

Security is problematic due to a significant skills shortage around cloud security in particular, and experts such as Gartner predict that this status quo will remain for some time. The skills to secure your perimeter are far more prevalent, affordable and easily obtainable. Data sovereignty also remains a concern for many vertical markets such as the financial industry (due to the Financial Intelligence Centre Act (FICA), Healthcare (due to the National Health Act)and government, as it is all but impossible to maintain complete control of your data once it is in the cloud.

Moreover, the Protection of Personal Information (PoPI) Act set to be implemented this year is also mandating companies in South Africa to understand and keep tabs on where their data resides and who has access to it.

All of these risks and costs must be combined to obtain an accurate view of the total cost of ownership of cloud storage. The answer to these challenges is simple – while leveraging compute resources from cloud providers is useful for agility, it's the data that you want to keep out of the cloud to avoid these challenges.

Cloud is for everyone, but not everything

Obviously, some data will end up in the cloud, as a result of applications, software and services being run out of the cloud. However, migrating all on premise data into the cloud will inflate costs rather than save money. Additionally, if elasticity, flexibility and agility are your desired results, this can in fact be solved on premise without those additional costs.

Putting the 'smart' into data storage

Fortunately, intelligent data storage and smart software solutions can make data storage more cost effective while maintaining data sovereignty and delivering on other benefits of the cloud. Such solutions enable you to move workloads into the cloud for enhanced agility, without the need to move your data. This provides a high performance, high availability environment that eliminates the hidden costs of cloud storage.

By storing data in a single repository while simultaneously providing access to multiple public cloud services, organisations can get the best of all worlds. Enterprise applications can run natively on a virtual private cloud, while adjacent enterprise-class storage ensures security, reliability and high availability. Data is secured, and data transfer fees are avoided, making this the ideal solution for a variety of enterprises.

At the end of the day, the cloud may be for everyone, but it is most certainly not for everything. Depending on the company and data being stored, cloud may not necessarily be the most intelligent or cost-effective option.

CIOs debating whether they should migrate their business's data to the cloud should take a serious look at their reasons for doing so, and their desired outcomes, before embarking on a path that could prove costly and difficult to come back from.

* By Eran Brown, CTO at INFINIDAT.

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