The COVID-19 pandemic has upended our lives, changing the way we work, shop, go to school, socialize, and seek medical attention. Even when we can finally put it behind us, this pandemic will have driven largescale changes that will surely last for many years to come, if not forever.
For example, even before the outbreak, insurance organizations were using modern techniques such as predictive analytics to effectively assess risk and set rates. Today, and due to the pandemic, these companies are taking it a step further by revamping their client authentication process to ensure they can adhere to government requirements while safely and conveniently ensuring that individuals are who they say they are. COVID-19 has necessitated rapid change, innovation and a greater need for digital transformation, resulting in a record-breaking $2.5 billion of investment in InsurTech in the third quarter of 2020.
Other industries have also felt the need to leverage the cloud to revamp their businesses. For instance, 2020 was a banner year for online groceries, as people shifted to buying food and related items online according to Forrester. The research firm also predicts that grocers will fare even better this year as they engage in massive digital transformations to improve online ordering, accelerate delivery, and increase the flow of traffic in stores to move people through more quickly while preserving social distancing.
However, to engage in such profound digital transformations, companies will be migrating key aspects of their infrastructures to the cloud, seeking better flexibility, responsiveness, and speed. IDC mirrors this sentiment stating that by the end of 2021, based on lessons learned in the pandemic, most enterprises will put a mechanism in place to accelerate their shift to cloud-centric digital infrastructure and application services twice as fast as before the pandemic.
In the past, companies were drawn to the cloud due to its flexibility and lower costs, but increasingly, companies are leveraging its ability to rapidly provision online services and features, such as medical dashboards, curbside pickup apps, and more responsive online interfaces. Thanks to our current environment, they also recognize the need to perform such migrations as quickly as possible, to improve their time-to-market and remain competitive.
Avoiding Cloud Pitfalls on the Road to Digital Transformation
Unfortunately, migrating to the cloud is not a trivial process, and it can be fraught with challenges. Often, during the cloud migration process, companies will have to restrict access to certain data sources and associated data sets, which can be disruptive to daily operations, and it can be difficult to plan for or accommodate such disruptions in a 24/7, international online setting. In addition, after a migration is complete, companies cannot easily revert to their previous system if they encounter problems of any kind. As a result, a company might wish to retain certain on-premises systems for compliance or for a variety of other reasons, and it can be challenging to provide access to both on-premises and cloud systems at the same time.
Technologies, such as data virtualization, help to overcome each of these challenges, enabling companies to seamlessly move to the cloud with zero downtime, or move to the cloud at their own pace, without impacting daily operations. In fact, with data virtualization, users will not even notice that a migration is taking place. Data virtualization has established itself as a key enabler to creating a logical data fabric, as organizations look to migrate and stitch together data sources and applications spanning multiple clouds.
Until now, most data integration technologies would first copy the data and then move it to a new, consolidated repository to create a physical data warehouse or data fabric. Data virtualization, in contrast, provides real-time views of the integrated data, without replication and with zero-downtime migrations, so companies can create a logical data warehouse or data fabric.
Because the data virtualization layer abstracts data consumers from the complexities of accessing the various data sources, users do not have to know where the data is stored, and migrations can occur even without users’ knowledge. This architecture also enables legacy and modern systems to exist simultaneously, in a hybrid configuration, to deliver real-time data to data consumers without their needing to know where the information comes from. As an example, TransAlta Corporation, a Canadian electricity power generator and wholesale marketing company, wanted to migrate its on-premises data infrastructure to the Microsoft (News - Alert) Azure cloud, and data virtualization enabled this migration to occur in a phased, controlled manner without impacting daily business.
Applying Technology to Better Serve the New Normal
Companies that wish to quickly engage in digital transformations that include largescale migrations to the cloud should take a good look at data virtualization. Data virtualization enables profound migrations without disruption to the business and creates advanced hybrid infrastructures that can seamlessly leverage data across cloud and on-premises sources simultaneously.
More importantly, data virtualization enables organizations to better serve the growing numbers of online consumers, across every field of human activity, with faster, more responsive digital services.
About the Author: Paul Moxon is the SVP of Data Architectures and Chief Evangelist at Denodo, a leading provider of data virtualization software. Paul has over 30 years of experience with enterprise middleware technologies with leading software companies, such as BEA Systems and Progress Software (News - Alert).
Edited by Maurice Nagle