For the last few years we’ve been hearing about the benefits of the cloud. And at this point, many of us agree the benefits are sizable and beneficial. So, let’s say you’ve finally agreed that it’s time to move to the cloud – what’s next?
First off, “the cloud” can mean anything – so what is it exactly? Applications like web analytics (Google Analytics) and customer relationship management (Salesforce) can be in the cloud. You can put data in the cloud in massive data warehouses like Amazon Redshift and Google BigQuery. You can move your analytics to the cloud with offerings like Tableau Online and Birst. And you can do any or all of the above, in any order.
Companies that weren’t “born in the cloud,” meaning any company more than a couple years old, need a plan for going cloud. Most organizations need to determine what, how and when to adopt cloud services.
Here are five strategies for transitioning to the cloud.
1. Use the right tool for the job.
If you’ve already decided to make a change, look at the toolkit of cloud services and see if there is a good option. Need a new data warehouse? An HR management solution? CRM? Consider starting with cloud there. You’ll likely have a faster implementation by going cloud, which means you’ll get value fast, and you’ll be able to start your transition without ripping out something that’s working. And chances are you’ll save money in the bargain.
For example, WildTangent, a worldwide distributor of mobile, social and online games, has moved most of his company’s data infrastructure to the cloud. Scott Moran, Director of Business Intelligence encourages people to look at the many cloud services offered as a toolkit. Select the right tool at the right time, and choose a tool that’s the right size for the need.
Moran moved Wild Tangent’s data architecture to the cloud piece by piece. He cautions that, in keeping with the analogy of the toolbox, you don’t want to get all your tools out at once. Use one, finish the job, and move onto the next. This helps you keep your business running as you make the transition.
2. Be as flexible as the cloud itself.
The cloud is in a stage of rapid evolution. You have the possibility of prototyping as you go, and adding volume when you’ve got it right. Keep an eye on new technologies and see how you can fit them into your workflows. Your best architecture today may not be your best architecture in a year, or even six months. A bit of tweaking can save you a lot of money.
As you consider new services, take advantage of the flexibility in the cloud. Elasticity is a characteristic of many cloud service. Basically this means you can use (and pay for) a small amount at first and then scale dramatically when your concept is proven out. In the cloud, you can try things out without having to commit massive infrastructure or licensing costs up front.
3. Plan for growth.
One of the advantages of a cloud infrastructure is that you can scale up easily— as long as you’ve got the right infrastructure. Take the time upfront to get your systems working as you want them, whether they be cloud applications, data or analytics. You don’t want to change from a relational database to an analytical database mid stream, but you might want to double your analytic database capacity overnight. And if your business starts growing, a good system can go a long way with you—but a bad one will only add to your headaches.
4. Give your users a hand (or at least a single sign-on solution!).
One of the challenges with moving to the cloud is that your users may end up with a number of different username and password combinations to remember. Luckily, there’s an app for that. Single Sign-On (SSO) solutions like OneLogin and others let your users use one password for many applications. This can significantly reduce user headaches and make users more open to adopting new solutions. It’s a good idea to favor solutions that use SAML or OAuth so that you can make use of an SSO solution when you’re ready.
5. Add even more value by broadening access to data.
If you’re building a data infrastructure in the cloud, think about how your employees will be able to use that data. If you’re moving to cloud applications, think about how you’ll integrate the data with other data in your enterprise. Otherwise, the limiting factor in your cloud infrastructure will be the time of your data scientists.
These steps provide a great starting place for exploring the cloud. You’ve bought into its potential, it’s now up to you to get the most out of it!
About the Author, Edouard Beaucourt (Tableau Software)
Edouard Beaucourt is Regional Director for France, French Speaking Switzerland and North Africa. Edouard Beaucourt is responsible for reinforcing and growing Tableau Software presence driving sales of Tableau’s products within the region. Edouard Beaucourt, 35 years old, joined Tableau Software in December 2013 as Enterprise Account Manager for France and French speaking Switzerland. Previously he fulfilled roles at IBM Business Analytics in Geneva, and at Clarity Systems, Paris and Geneva. He has a background in major account enterprise sales in the business intelligence and analytics software space and a wealth of industry insight. Prior to roles at the organisations above, Beaucourt also managed sales teams and channel partner programmes for Microsoft and Hyperion.