How to start the shift from legacy data systems to the Cloud

  • Richard Thelwell
  • November 13, 2015

legacy data systems move to cloudThe Cloud can no longer be ignored. Even in those businesses at the very smallest end of the size spectrum, IT managers are aware that it offers significant benefits. But locating niche non-critical applications in the Cloud is one thing—and business critical ERP and other data systems quite another. Where to start? And how?

Many IT managers, it’s fair to say, have taken the view that it’s a decision best deferred until there’s a clear business case for an application or system upgrade.

Which is understandable: if at a senior board level, a decision has been taken to go for a Cloud-based ERP or other data system, then that provides a degree of protective cover if things go awry.

But such a deferral might mean waiting years—and even then, the decision might be to stay on-premise. Is there a way to get the benefits of Cloud-based data systems sooner, without incurring serious business risk?

The answer: yes. A move to Cloud Business Intelligence not only delivers useful savings and other benefits, but also handily provides valuable experience in using Cloud-based data systems.

How? Let’s take a look.

Cloud data systems, not just hosted data systems

First, let’s make sure we’re speaking the same language. It’s the Cloud that offers those Cloud-based benefits to the full. Which means that merely moving data systems to a third-party hosting service isn’t the same.

So taking a traditional on-premise data system application—such as traditional on-premise Business Intelligence—and externally hosting it isn’t going to provide many lessons in moving data systems to the Cloud. Because in reality, all you’re really doing is moving data systems from one server to another—a server that happens to be located off-site.

By ‘Cloud’, we mean the sort of Cloud epitomised by Amazon’s Amazon Web Services, for instance: highly-reliable, vastly-scalable, flexible-yet-powerful, offering access to inbuilt cutting-edge applications and services, and available on a flexible ‘pay as you go’ basis.

From data systems to data warehouse

And that’s exactly the sort of Cloud that a Cloud Business Intelligence solution leverages.

To begin with, it applies fast and powerful Cloud-based Extract, Transform & Load (ETL) technologies to parse and process data from your ERP system and—optionally—other applications, before placing it in a Cloud-based data warehouse.

At which point, you have your first Cloud-based data system—a data warehouse running reliably in the Cloud, requiring minimal on-premise IT resource, and ready-optimised to run Business Intelligence services against.

Reporting services? Obviously. Self-serve analytics and self-serve reporting? Of course: the ability for ordinary users to self-serve their Business Intelligence requirements, using simple point-and-click tools, is one of Cloud Business Intelligence’s major advantages.

And dashboarding services? Again, dashboards are powerful tools—and Cloud-based Business Intelligence makes building personal ‘role-based’ dashboards a cinch.

And, to repeat, with a fast and powerful Cloud-based data warehouse delivered as a service, coupled to ETL that is also delivered as a service, that data warehouse needn’t just contain ERP transactions. Potentially, it can also hold transactions from any IT system—making cross-application Business Intelligence also a cinch.

Welcome to the Cloud

With Business Intelligence running in the Cloud—and especially when pulling in data from data systems other than just the core ERP system—the benefits of the Cloud become much clearer to see.

And undeniably, even though Cloud Business Intelligence is delivered as a hands-off ‘pay as you go’ service, it becomes much easier to understand how straightforward working with the Cloud really is.

On the one hand, you have—perhaps for the very first time—a complete reporting suite, complete with self-serve capabilities for end users, flexibly and powerfully delivered, paid for on a subscription basis, and with minimal capital expenditure.

And on the other, a more-or-less complete absence of the headaches and constraints of on-premise data systems: servers and other IT infrastructure to buy and maintain, in-house report-writing resource to employ, and hefty upfront license fees to pay.

Cloud data systems: what’s not to like?

Is it time you made the transition from your legacy data systems to the Cloud? Find out more in our free eBook.