Data Warehouse Migration Approaches to the Cloud

By |2022-06-10T08:35:24+00:00June 18th, 2021|

As organizations begin to realize the need for and importance of data analytics, more and more of them are looking into implementing an enterprise data warehouse to leverage data that would otherwise be trapped in silos. In addition to helping organizations consolidate their data, a data warehouse can be used to maintain data history and make it easier to query data. While both on-prem and cloud data warehouses offer immense benefits, most organizations today prefer migrating data warehouse to cloud to go with modern cloud data warehouses, as compared to legacy data warehouses, due to the enhanced agility, scalability, and security they offer. Cloud-based data warehouses also offer more flexibility and can be less costly for organizations that are just beginning to figure out what features they will need and how much storage space will be enough for their projects.

data warehouse migration

Migration to cloud

While both on-prem and cloud data warehouses offer immense benefits, most organizations today prefer to go with modern cloud data warehouses, as compared to legacy data warehouses, due to the enhanced agility, scalability, and security they offer. Cloud-based data warehouses also offer more flexibility and can be less costly for organizations that are just beginning to figure out what features they will need and how much storage space will be enough for their projects.

Thinking of moving your data analytics architecture to the cloud? Here’s everything you need to know about migrating data warehouses to the cloud, and how you can make your data warehouse migration smooth and easy.

What Are On-Prem and Cloud Data Warehouses?

Organizations that use an on-premises data warehouse need to purchase all the storage equipment that will house their data themselves. They will also be responsible for setting up the necessary infrastructure at a physical location of their choice and all subsequent maintenance activities for this hardware.

The reverse is true for cloud data warehouses.

The cloud data warehouse provider takes care of all of the hardware and maintenance of the data pipelines and data warehouse. What’s more, most cloud data warehouse providers also allow users to pay only for the services that they have availed, allowing organizations to scale their architecture based on storage and processing requirements.

Why Migrating data warehouse to Cloud is Important

Cloud data warehousing offers several unique benefits that are not possible with on-premises data warehouses. Here are some reasons why your organization should move its data warehouse to the cloud:

  • Cost: A cloud data warehouse can cost a lot less than an on-premises data warehouse for several reasons. With a cloud data warehouse, you don’t need to worry about purchasing equipment for storage, security, or anything else. This initial cost for on-premises data warehouses and be a deterrent for organizations on a tight budget. Additionally, cloud data warehouse solution providers offer a number of functionalities and capabilities on a pay-as-you-go basis, making it easier for organizations to experiment and figure out what they need and what works best for their analytics solutions.
  • Scalability: Cloud-based data warehouses offer immense scalability and flexibility to organizations looking to improve their analytics efforts. The elasticity offered by cloud data warehouse solution providers also gives organizations the freedom to scale up or down as and when required.
  • Performance: Cloud data warehouses generally employ the ELT method to integrate and process data much faster than on-premises data warehouses. Users can leverage the Massively Parallel Processing (MPP) capabilities of cloud platforms such as Amazon Redshift and Microsoft Azure to build ELT pipelines to and from their data warehouse. With ELT, users no longer need to leverage their in-house hardware to perform expensive transformations. Instead, they can leverage the power of the target platform to perform those operations far more quickly without any unnecessary data movement.

Factors for Successful Migration to the Cloud

While migrating data warehouse to the cloud is essential, migration to the cloud poses a number of challenges. For this reason, it’s essential to keep a few internal and external factors in mind when planning the cloud data warehouse migration strategy to ensure the transition is smooth and hassle-free.

Create a Cloud Migration Strategy

The first thing you must do when thinking of migrating your data warehouse to the cloud is creating a strategy.

data warehouse migration strategy

Data warehouse migration strategy

A cloud data warehouse migration strategy will ensure that your systems and teams are not getting overwhelmed by trying to do too much too fast. While some organizations prefer modernizing and migrating their data warehouse in one go, others tend to pace out their deliverables. That said, it’s essential to ensure that your data warehouse migration project doesn’t span over very large time periods since this can be counterproductive and cause unnecessary delays in your business intelligence and analytics efforts.

Understand How On-Premises to Cloud Migration Will Affect Your Team

It’s also important to involve key personnel who will be using your cloud data warehouse during the migration process and define how they fit into the overall planning. Keeping key personnel in the loop throughout the process will ensure that the cloud data warehouse is leveraged to the fullest with minimal to no disruptions.

At this point, it’s also important to have a good idea of how different crucial tools and applications (such as visualization platforms and business intelligence bi tools for instance) will be used with the new architecture.

Have a Contingency Plan

When migrating to the cloud, it’s essential to keep in mind that the reality may be different than what you had anticipated. In fact, in some cases, you might even need to revisit your data warehouse migration strategy to ensure that crucial data is not lost and the productivity of your business is not affected during the transition.

Regardless of the data warehouse migration approach you choose, you’ll also need to keep your legacy systems operational for at least some time in case you discover that something’s amiss. Not doing so can prove detrimental if you need to roll back and have nothing to support your data warehouse.

Assess Your Existing Data Warehouse

Assessing your existing data warehouse is one of the most crucial steps when you’re preparing for a migration to the cloud. A thorough assessment will not only allow you to pinpoint how your systems, applications, data models, and other dependencies interact with each other, but you’ll also be able to identify where your current system is lacking, allowing you to mitigate any issues caused by these weaknesses in your new data warehouse.

Performing a thorough assessment without any bias will also help you determine which data warehouse migration approach would work best, considering the state of your current data warehouse. Be sure to keep a cloud migration assessment checklist handy to ensure that nothing’s amiss during the on-premise to cloud migration process.

data warehouse assessment

Data Warehouse Migration Plan Assessment

Data Warehouse Migration Approaches

After discussing the importance and benefits of moving to the cloud, let’s discuss how do you move to the cloud. There are a few different approaches for migration to the cloud. As mentioned earlier, it’s essential for you to get a complete understanding of where your data warehouse currently stands to ensure that you’re choosing the approach that’s right for you.

1.     Lift and Shift

The lift and shift approach to data warehouse migration involves migrating your data and applications to the cloud without any redesigning or restructuring. The lift and shift approach works best for organizations that are confident that their data warehouse architecture is working perfectly fine and just want to move to the cloud for added benefits such as enhanced security, compliance, or even disaster recovery.

Also known as rehosting, the lift and shift approach can also help save costs involved in buying and maintaining storage equipment and space to house your data and applications and increase the availability of your data warehouse.

2.     Simplify and Migrate

The second option to migrate your data warehouse to the cloud is to simplify the architecture before migration. This approach, more commonly known as refactoring, involves modifying the architecture of your data warehouse to ensure that it suits the cloud environment so that you are able to reap the benefits of the cloud. Preparing your data warehouse for the cloud can mean a number of things, from making it more flexible to improving its scalability.

3.     Completely Redesign and Migrate

In some cases, an assessment of your current data warehouse architecture will reveal that it’s not fit for the cloud at all. In situations like these, organizations need to create a new data warehouse from scratch so that it can be used in the cloud. That said, you might be able to take some inspiration from your existing on-premises data warehouse to see how you can tackle a specific problem or deal with a certain situation more efficiently with your newly designed data warehouse.

Data Warehouse Migration Challenges

Migrating your data warehouse to the cloud can pose a few different challenges. Here are a few on-premise to cloud data warehouse migration challenges that you need to be aware of before you migrate your data warehouse to the cloud:

1.     Replanning Your Data Model

When migrating your data warehouse to the cloud, it’s often recommended to follow a denormalization approach to enhance performance. That said, the denormalization process can be complicated especially since you might be required to keep your old and new data models working in harmony during the migration process.

2.     Managing Stored Procedures

Stored procedures are essentially statements that help you preserve data and information specific to the internal workings of your data warehouse. Unfortunately, most cloud data warehouses do not have a mechanism to leverage existing stored procedures or create new ones, causing problems for users of the data warehouse. For this reason, organizations moving their data warehouses to the cloud may have to use an additional platform for process orchestration and other similar tasks.

It’s important to keep this in mind and do your research on cloud data warehouses to ensure that the efficiency of your organization is not affected in case your cloud data warehouse does not support stored procedures.

3. Establishing connectivity between your new data warehouse and custom applications

Connecting your custom applications to your cloud data warehouse may not be as simple as you’d like. While some custom applications might easily be connected and integrated with your cloud data warehouse just by changing a few SQL statements here and there, you might have to dive deeper to discover other connectivity issues. Often, these issues may manifest in the form of erroneous or inconsistent data, which can cause problems if not detected in a timely manner.

What Astera DW Builder Offers

Built on top of Astera’s renowned enterprise data integration platform, Astera DW Builder comes with an intuitive interface, a robust Data service module for easier querying, and seamless integration with both file systems and cloud platforms making it easy to move your on-premises data warehouse to the cloud. Our powerful data warehouse automation tool also allows you to deploy to popular cloud providers and creates SQL statements native to the destination platform, saving you and your team weeks of understanding and coding queries on the new platform.

With Astera DW Builder, your organization can leverage all the benefits of the cloud and perform faster analytics with flexibility, availability, and scalability like never before. Get in touch today to see Astera DW Builder live in action or to find out how Astera DW Builder can help with your specific use case.