Skip to content

Pro’s and Cons of Moving your Data to the Cloud

Introduction

A successful data migration to the cloud opens to routes to rapidly expanding opportunities for your business. The benefits of cloud hosting include the availability of faster and more dynamic web server platforms, driving faster and more effective ecommerce solutions. Data transfer to the cloud also means lower costs in terms of hardware and software and more efficiency in terms of network resources. However, data migration almost always has inherent security risks, and if your business doesn’t have a clearly structured data migration plan, things can go wrong.

Why Transfer your Data Storage to the Cloud?

Like any other business objective, you need to have an identifiable need that cloud migration will address and a goal in terms of what it can achieve for your business. The 2023 State of the Cloud report found that although more than 70% of organisations surveyed had more than 50% of their infrastructure in the cloud, 69% of business leaders in these companies didn’t have a clearly defined cloud-strategy for their business.

What are the first steps?

Identify your needs: Is it cost saving, access to scalability and flexibility or both? Identify what the possible cost saving will be, and what scalable solutions you need. Maybe you need faster servers to better handle high-volume traffic or more to provide more seamless ecommerce transactions. Or maybe you need a more secure place to store your data? Remember, data migration will also likely have an impact on your business due to downtime and any potential risk factors that will accompany the migration.

Choose your provider: The market has plenty of options, and in terms of the public cloud you’re not restricted by local providers. Ensure you choose a provider that is compatible to the systems and services that you run, ensuring that your applications can run smoothly in a cloud environment. For example transferring your data from an on-site MySQL database to a Microsoft Azure system may require data type conversion and formatting, so make sure you discuss this with your technical team and what it involves.

Assess your data: What data are you planning to move to the cloud and what impact will that have on your day to day operations during the migration? There are always security concerns in the transiting of any data. Proper data encryption, backup and access control systems need to be in place before the migration of any data and subsequent management and storage.

Effective Data Assessment

When you have identified the data that you want to migrate to the cloud, you need to consider where that data is currently stored; these can include separate databases, spreadsheets or other types of files. Then categorise the data, whether it’s relating to finance, customers, marketing or sales, for example. Work with your provider to discuss the best storage environment, be it private of public cloud, whether that be a single cloud storage system, a multi-cloud system or a hybrid environment, which uses a combination of on-site storage resources and public cloud storage.

Public Cloud v Private Cloud Storage

The public cloud model is the most commonly used. In this model, cloud services are offered through a third party cloud service provider via a SAAS (Software as a Service) system. In the public cloud, all systems (hardware and software) are operated by the cloud provider, examples would be well known systems such as AWS (Amazon Web Services), Microsoft Azure and GCP (Google Cloud Platform). All users of public cloud services have access to the same cloud infrastructure, storage and resources, at different tiers depending on the level of investment. One of the main benefits of the public cloud model is affordability, reliability and limited maintenance. The private cloud model, which can also be referred to as a private data-centre, is a cloud service model where one organisation or company has exclusive use of the cloud, its services and its associated infrastructure. Private clouds are used commonly by companies or organisations that require bespoke, customisable and highly secure data environments, for example many government bodies or financial institutions, who all have strict compliance standards. Privacy, security and customised levels of security are some of main attractions of private cloud systems in addition to high-performance as it is not a shared resource.

Compliance Concerns

When you have identified the data that you are migrating to the cloud, check what compliance and security criteria you need to follow, particularly in terms of financial information. Depending on what region and what sector your business operates in. GDPR for example within the European Union. Your cloud services provider can help you in this process by providing documentation such as certifications, a matrix of responsibility and a mapping of the data that is being controlled. In addition to successfully moving the data, you need to have it organised in a format that can be easily accessed should it need to be audited.

According to Rob Sadowski, Director of Trust & Security Product Marketing at Google Cloud; “A guiding principle to follow to help reduce the risk of a compliance issue as a result of a cloud migration is to reduce complexity when possible. Store sensitive data in fewer locations and limit access to it in order to make compliance audits easier.

Your cloud provider will also be able to assist you in automating some compliance features and processes such as running scheduled checks for configuration and any potential drift in the structure of your data and how it is controlled. Customising the structure of your data so it makes sense to you and your team reduces the risk of any security breach.

Security Concerns and breaches

However robust your plan, security concerns and security monitoring are a key part of the migration, whether pre, during or post the migration of your data. Knowing the threats and the resources that your cloud provider has in place to combat them is vital. Your cloud service provider, as part of their contract with you, will guide you through their security systems and the security portals that they use to protect your data.

That said, however secure your systems are, there is always a risk of a breach. Data migration, storage and constant updates can expose your data to any insecure or poorly optimised configuration within the cloud. Data breaches are no respecter of size, as companies such as Microsoft found out this year. Ensure you discuss your data migration plan, and the related benefits and risks, with all the key stakeholders of your business.