It is already widely accepted that cloud is the future for every aspect of business, analytics included. If you haven’t already embarked on your journey to embrace the cloud, then you’re probably behind the times.
The benefits of moving away from on-premises infrastructure and license based software are clear and have been quantitatively demonstrated across different industries and within different business units. The question is no longer “to cloud, or not to cloud?” but instead, “how do we get going with cloud analytics today?”.
A hybrid approach is the simplest answer. Jumping completely to the cloud straight away falls into the “big bang” approach of projects and is just not a good idea. More importantly, every organization has multiple systems on-premises at different stages of their lifecycle. Just moving everything to the cloud now would reduce the value of rather large investments made into on-premises systems, both with hardware and software. Additionally, change is best served gradually, in smaller chunks.
With users becoming familiar with the cloud-based analytics platform, they’ll likely grow their analytics needs. More on-premises data sources, more third party external sources, more personal data access and so on. At this point, the second step is application hybrid solution which allows the ability to shift blocks of content, security, metadata, and data to and from the cloud. For example, marketing users would like to perform social media and campaign analytics in the cloud where they have become accustomed to the modern visualizations and data discovery capabilities. With a hybrid analytics application, all useful data, marketing metrics and calculations could be quickly shifted to the cloud for analysis.
Marketing users can perform their investigations without impacting any of the on-premises systems. This lift and shift approach also provides for lifecycle management between the likes of development, test and production environments. Content developed and approved for promotion is easily shifted to the next environment. Testing can accommodate as many users as you choose without affecting on-premises infrastructure.
Finally, as your cloud-based analytics community is becoming mature with their high performance, modern platform, you can look to begin expanding the capabilities beyond standard visualizations or reporting. Organizations intending to lead in their market space need to innovate and technologies leveraging the likes of big data, scenario modeling, machine learning and predictive analytics are what take analysis to that next level of insight. The cloud analytics platform needs to be a platform for expansion and not limited to simply render nice graphics.
The first step appears to be the most difficult, yet signing up for a trial of a cloud-based analytics platform is definitely easier than installing that BI system you have on-premises. Then after hooking up a few on-premises data sources, you’re already well on your journey to the cloud. The later steps will become clearer based on your usage and needs.
Every organization is different. Your journey will be unique. That first step is the same for everyone.
Photo courtesy of Bruno Cordioli