Moving to the cloud promises to save enterprises money on storage and compute needs. What the major cloud providers don't promise, however, is a quick and painless transition.
Before checking out the prices for various cloud storage, enterprises should take time to assess what data is still actively used and what is necessary to migrate to the cloud, according to Next Pathway Inc.
The storage migration vendor, using its suite of proprietary software called Shift, helps transition on-premises legacy storage users to the cloud or to a mix of public and private clouds.
Indeed, in a survey of 1,000 IT professionals recently published by the company, a majority indicated that a mix of hybrid cloud deployments and on-premises appliances is becoming the de facto storage strategy for the enterprise.
Executives for Next Pathway said these hybrid storage strategies are sought to help avoid vendor lock-in but can lead to unnecessary data ingress and egress fees as organizations winnow down what exactly is needed in the cloud.
In this Q&A, Next Pathway's president, Clara Angotti, and CEO, Chetan Mathur, talk about the evolution of cloud storage and discuss how organizations can make smart decisions earlier and avoid migration headaches later.
What would you define as legacy storage systems?
Clara Angotti: It's all about performance and scalability. When [organizations] think about legacy, they have a lot of important applications running, but [they] can't do more with that data, or be competitive, or create more customer loyalty.
The data lake is considered legacy. It didn't live up to the expectations it was first promoted to do. It wasn't great for storage, and it wasn't a great landing spot to perform analytics on. People lost their confidence in why they went to a data lake in the first place. All the reasons they wanted to have a data lake, they're realizing that a cloud warehouse or a cloud data lake makes so much more sense.
What do organizations overlook when migrating to the cloud from legacy hardware?
Chetan Mathur: About 54% of respondents in our survey, to be frank, don't know what they have [for data]. These are very large and complex organizations we deal with. … The desire is there for one to move, but how do you do it?
The first step to take is to understand the landscape and how to plan a migration. It's the complexity of what one has in their legacy environment and not having the purview into it.
Angotti: In the latest survey, we asked customers, 'If you were going to start your migration all over again, what would you have done differently?' There was a lot people would have done differently.
The biggest response was around spending more time planning the migration of the workloads. Others were about using more automation, testing and managing cutover.
A lot of people think they're going to move to the cloud and not make a rash decision. They may be choosing the technology and spending a lot of time thinking about that, but they've not spent enough time thinking about what they are moving and why they are moving it. People realize they need to spend more time understanding what they're trying to move [and] what's the use case.
What are some ways organizations can prepare before a cloud migration?
Chetan MathurCEO, Next Pathway
Mathur: There's a lack of visibility into what's on prem, what's being used, what's not… there's a fear of moving. I think people are looking more to rationalize their applications now. Frequently when we [run our data visibility software], there are orphan applications, orphan reports people aren't even using. Picking that up and moving that to the cloud is silly, isn't it?
Angotti: Thinking through the full range of the project and planning early for testing. All the nuances of how you're moving data or possibly transforming and loading data -- those are important things to get a handle on before you do the migration. That's going to lead to your success in testing.
The other important nuance is, how much data do you want to bring over [and] what's the volume of that data? What's the speed by which you get that data migrated? That can throw a few curveballs if you're not planning for that properly.
How can organizations mitigate the cost of cloud transitions?
Mathur: I think if you're doing 'lift and shifts,' as we call them, there's been some eye-popping consumption bills. Some of the eye-poppers have been from migrating over to the cloud thinking you're going to save money.
Angotti: Even if a client says to us, 'I want to do a lift and shift. I know exactly what I want to move over,' we always tell them to leave a little extra budget. Once they start planning, they'll come to us and say, 'But if you have any ideas for optimizing, please let me know.'
It's really wise for every client, [but] even if they have their eyes wide open, it rarely works out that way.
What are some evolutions and changes you see coming to users of public clouds in the future?
Angotti: We're so early on in migrations. We're still very much learning and setting best practices. We're going to start seeing a lot more emphasis on doing the right planning up front.
For our clients, it pays dividends. You'll see a lot more expertise in that. There will probably be movement from cloud to cloud as customers head to a particular cloud and realize, 'Geez, it wasn't all that I thought it was going to be.'
Mathur: Our clients are selecting their cloud partners based upon use cases. Google is leading the way in machine learning and artificial intelligence. Amazon is leading the way because they've open-sourced everything and they have a whole arsenal of technologies available for free. Azure, being a legacy enterprise incumbent, is winning because of the security and trust factor. We've got the newer players coming up, such as Snowflake and Databricks.
But what we're seeing is the interoperability of clouds. [Enterprises] are going to have the other big players as well in a hybrid deployment, so the clouds better play nice and be able to communicate with their partners.
Editor's note: This interview has been edited for clarity and length.
Tim McCarthy is a TechTarget reporter covering cloud and data storage news.