In a competitive world driven by consumers, companies are all facing the same business challenge: they need to make their data available to their business teams, enabling them to deliver better experiences and to streamline operations. IT plays a strategic role here as it can accelerate delivery of trusted data. But this is easier said than done because digital transformation comes with a wide array of technology challenges – from capped IT budgets to lack of resources with the right skillsets, from demanding SLAs to ever-changing technology stacks.
Cloud offerings have expanded beyond storage and computing to offer a wide array of services. The adoption of other cloud computing models such as Platform as a Service (Paas), Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), and the growing usage of connected devices and IoT platforms means that additional data and processes are also moving outside of the firewall and into the cloud. So much so that some companies now rely on a full cloud-native stack with managed services. With their whole architecture in the cloud, companies do not have to manage anything. This gives cloud computing yet another interesting value prop by reducing the overhead expenses of on-premises equipment and lowering the total cost of ownership.
The cloud as a pre-requisite for any data strategy
Modernizing the enterprise IT architecture with the cloud is a universal answer to any digital transformation. And, indeed, companies are now all on a journey to the cloud, an astounding 96% of companies are using cloud for some of their data projects. Yet, we’re still in the very early days of adoption. Today, only 19% of enterprise IT spending goes to cloud, a number that should go up to 28% by 2022 according to Gartner; and these figures actually hide a great variety of situations. Depending on business priorities, level of risks and time constraints, some companies will decide to simply migrate some of their data bases to the cloud while others will rearchitect their data stack for the cloud. There is no one-way ticket to the cloud, but we’ve seen success with all these approaches.
Migrating some data bases and data centers to the cloud
Sometimes, the trigger that puts organizations on the path to the cloud is as simple as a renewal deadline: we’ve worked with companies that looked at cloud hosting options because they were about to extend their current on-premises solutions for another 5 years. When these companies do decide to migrate their databases, applications or project workloads to the cloud, the process has to be staggered – No server is switched off overnight. During that transition period where data and information live in two different environments, data synchronization is key. Talend is actually part of a specific program with AWS dedicated to such migration projects. This Workload Migration Program (WMP) helps companies seamlessly migrate their data workloads and applications into the cloud, on AWS. It allows customers to achieve their business goals and accelerate their cloud journey. WMP works with AWS Partner Network Technology and Consulting Partners to create a repeatable migration process and methodology for their AWS offering. WMP helps APN Partners drive and deliver ISV workload migrations, enhancing their cloud practices and customer success on AWS.
Moving to a cloud data lake or data warehouse to accelerate data delivery and analytics
Migrating data bases to the cloud only provides companies with part of the advantages of the cloud. In the cloud, computing is decoupled from storage, this gives companies a lot more flexibility and scalability opportunities. More data sources can be handled and be processed faster. As such, companies are increasingly moving their data to the cloud to accelerate analytics and get quicker, self-service access to trusted insights
Decision Resources Group (DRG), a leading provider of healthcare industry analysis and insights, already had part of its infrastructure on AWS. But they wanted to go a step further and accelerate their data access and data analytics by building their data platform in the cloud. DRG selected Talend and Snowflake cloud data warehouse as the foundation of its new Real-World Data Platform, a comprehensive claims and electronic health record repository that covers more than 90% of all data for the US healthcare system. DRG on-boarded more than a 100 TB of data in three months. In addition to the cost savings, DRG’s Real-World Data Platform has helped them scale from serving a handful of users to serving more than 200 users.
Beyond speed, some cloud platforms come with astounding computing performance. Employsure is an Australian-based company that provides workplace relations support to employers and business owners in Australia and New Zealand. While Employsure did reduce its infrastructure costs by moving to the cloud, the benefits for its analytics went beyond. Employsure uses Talend Stitch Data Loader to import data from Salesforce and other operational systems and leverages Google Cloud Platform capabilities to perform more complex AI-driven analytics in a frictionless way. Employsure’s AI-based system now monitors transactional data for factors that suggest which customers may be at risk of attrition, ultimately enabling the team to innovate and develop new client-facing services.
Overhauling its entire architecture to becoming cloud-first
If public and private clouds can accelerate business innovation, companies need to leverage the best cloud services of all service providers. A cloud-first architecture can allow them to scale infinitely and the choice of services should be based on the type of workloads they run.
Back in 2017, AstraZeneca, a pharmaceutical company operating in over 100 countries, resolved to build a data lake on Amazon S3 to hold the data from its wide range of source systems. But AstraZeneca went beyond a simple lift and shift project. For its long-running and compute intensive workloads, AstraZeneca built data pipelines with Talend to execute on an AWS container infrastructure. After some transformation work, Talend then bulk loads that into Amazon Redshift for the analytics. Talend is also being used to connect to Amazon Aurora. These seamless data projects are made possible because AstraZeneca completely overhauled its IT architecture to make it cloud-first.
This is easier to do for “born into the cloud” companies that are not going through a digital transformation process. This is the case of PointsBet, an online bookmaker in Australia and most recently in the United States. Online betting platforms have long recognized the need for a strong, resilient IT infrastructure. Even a minor glitch during a major sporting event can be disastrous and the losses can run into millions of dollars. As a fully digital operation, PointsBet already understood the power that data offered its organization. PointsBet operates with a platform-as-a-service that runs on Microsoft Azure. This fully managed environment provides convenience, reliability and peace of mind. In a regular week, PointsBet engineers only spend an hour troubleshooting, Vs. a traditional 4-8 hours.
To succeed in their digital transformation, companies must find the right balance for their IT architecture when it comes to their cloud adoption. For scalability and flexibility, cloud platforms can truly accelerate computing power for data analytics without compromising the resources dedicated to the storage of the data. In order to ensure that the data moving between the cloud and the enterprise is trusted data, get it right, getting it clean, and governing it so you know what’s happened to it along the way. Finally, bringing everything –storage, processing and management– together in a cloud environment will help the company reach their ROI quicker with a much smaller TCO.
Data transformations must happen where the data lies – data integration has to happen in the cloud. When companies re-architecture their data ecosystem to collect all their data in a cloud data lake or data warehouse and keep it there for processing, this is where the digital transformation begins. Wherever companies are on their transformation journey, modernizing the data architecture with the cloud is the only answer for whatever their business case.