Working with data demands tools and services, such as the tools that permit storing, transforming, and accessing data, to name a few. These tools and services, however, cannot exist or operate on their own. They need to be hosted on a server, such as a cloud, to be able to work with them.
The sections below comprehensively answers the FAQs about migrating to the cloud that every manager and decision maker at data and analytics teams needs to know.
What is cloud in relation to data?
The cloud refers to platforms that host IT infrastructure for other organizations, companies, etc. By storing and processing its data in the cloud, a company can use servers that are owned and maintained by a ‘cloud vendor’ to handle its data and create all its data products. Each of the major vendors supplying cloud services stores its servers typically in large data centers.
Moreover, large cloud vendors even expanded their services to also allow users to provision tools and software within their platform without having their customers deal with the technicalities of the underlying server.
Xomnia works with the three biggest cloud vendors: Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Google Cloud Platform (GCP). Other niche players and competitors include the clouds of IBM, Oracle, Tencent and Alibaba. Obviously, the latter two offerings have a geographical focus on Asia. Geography plays a role in the size of market share of these providers. The Dutch market’s share of Microsoft’s Azure offering versus AWS', for example, is much more skewed in favor of Azure, compared to the case in the US market.
What is cloud migration?
Cloud migration refers to IT services and infrastructure that are hosted in data centers owned by a vendor. In other words, a cloud migration means to move IT services and infrastructure from where they are stored originally to the data centers of a cloud vendor. These services and infrastructure could be hosted initially ‘on-premise’ at an organization’s own data center, or could already be hosted at another cloud vendor.
Which cloud provider will be the best in 2023?
There is no one-size-fits all answer to this question. The best cloud provider for your business is the one that fits its requirements best. Fundamentally, there are three components to be on the lookout for when determining the suitability of a cloud provider with your business:
Price: Xomnia recommends considering different solution architectures and checking and verifying them externally. We recommend making extensive use of the pricing calculators to estimate your cloud bill, which are provided by cloud providers such as AWS, Azure, GCP. Because of the pricing structure, it might be that one cloud is cheaper for your use-case. Do not forget when making the calculations to factor in scalability and initial migration costs.
Setup: Which cloud platform offers the most easy migration process for your applications and data? And which allows you to get started quickly and rapidly prototype? The answer to those questions is important in determining the best cloud provider for your business.
Expertise: Ask yourself questions like: What platform is my technical personnel most familiar with? Which one would they like to learn? Can it be easily integrated into existing enterprise software? Is there perhaps a platform where more people work, offering a larger basis of (future) personnel? The answer to those questions is important in determining the best cloud provider for your business.
Use case(s): Certain providers have more mature offerings for specific use cases than others. For example, AWS offers 2 solutions for big data platforms (Redshift and Athena), which tie into different use-cases. On the other hand, Azure offers a more integrated Data Lake(house) service (Synapse). GCP, however, offers a high level of integration with various (third party) services and managed hosting, e.g. Apache Airflow hosted as GCP Composer. This ties back into expertise, since your team will want to tackle the use case in the space they are most familiar with.
There are obviously other considerations to take into account when choosing the best cloud provider, such as the availability of professionals who are experienced in a certain cloud provider, the ease of attracting talent that has experience with a provider, the accessibility and comprehensiveness of documentation on setting up and configuring cloud services services, or the possibility of integrating a cloud with the other tools that are used in the organization. A common example for the last is the Microsoft Suite, which ties in nicely with the Azure ecosystem.