Simplifying and De-Risking Big Data Cloud Migrations - Part 2

Posted by Gabriel O'Brien | 16-May-2022 13:14:24

Whether organisations are mid-migration or yet to start their journey, complex, risky and expensive big data cloud migrations are staring them in the face. Siloed data, cultural issues, high costs, a skills shortage and end of support life can block the path towards a unified data platform. And, the case for innovative, data-driven insights is weakened by risks associated with information security and regulation. So what can organisations do to simplify and de-risk these big data cloud migrations? 

Nimbus Ninety, in partnership with Unravel Data, Appsbroker and Google Cloud, brought together members from across industry to lend support, share challenges and, perhaps most importantly, enjoy a cheese twist or two. The evening began with a presentation from Eric McCarty, Solution Manager for Data Warehouse Modernization at Google and Matt Penton, Head of Data & Analytics at Appsbroker.


Eric began by framing the debate between maintaining security and opening up access to data. Eric argued that, in order to satisfy both sides of this debate, cloud migration has followed a slow, methodical, trusted and, most importantly, low-risk approach. But now, to accelerate this process, de-risking data prior to your cloud journey, whether that be redacting restricted data or tokenizing confidential data (with the end goal of data that is valuable to your business but as worthless to criminals as possible), is crucial.

Matt moved onto migration journeys themselves ranging from rehosting, replatforming, repurchasing, refactoring, retaining or retiring. Importantly, even with the correct preparation of data, there are still risks associated with migration journeys, including cost, effort and  skills shortages. To counter these risks, Matt suggested a number of dos and don’ts. Key to success is commiting to the first attempt, piloting Proof of Concept/Proof of Value and, moving data and applications separately. On the other hand, don’ts include making sudden decisions, forgetting to upskill staff and ignoring the need for financial transformation. 



The evening continued with a presentation from Ryan Flynn, Daniel Randell, and Dale Lewis from the Cloud Data Hub Team at British Telecom. The team shared their award-winning approach to adopting, automating and optimising a Google Cloud Platform within a large, complex organisation. Their key takeaways from the experience and advice to others in a similar situation were: 

  • Consider automation when building your processes
  • Leverage CI/CD as much as possible
  • Leverage Serverless as much as possible
  • Build custom tools to get the job done
  • Ensure engineering and architecture work closely together
  • Avoid imposter syndrome
  • Challenge assumptions


Following on from the presentation, members joined a roundtable discussion and took part in a number of polls, in order to share their experiences. The key takeaways from the discussion were:

  • This is Only the Beginning

Our first poll showed that 77% of attendees had begun their migration journeys but still had a long way to go. Here, one member shared that the next step in their journey is to move the rest of their infrastructure and applications into the cloud. Other members reflected on the runaway query and attribution challenges they are currently overcoming. The BT Cloud Data Hub team also highlighted that, even with their success, they are still pursuing greater automation and optimisation; it is only the beginning.

  • Focus on the Business Value

The discussion amongst members was heavily focused around business value. In fact, cost and performance was the biggest challenge for 29% of members. Some members suggested implementing data science guardrails to limit costs whilst others have focused on improving visibility and understanding of where costs are rising. To prevent these challenges, members agreed that cloud migration journeys driven by and moulded around specific use cases are key to gaining value from investment.

  • Culture and Mindset are Key

Our second poll looked at the key challenges facing members in their cloud migration journeys. The most common challenge, gaining 36% of the vote, was people and technology. When reflecting on this, members focused on those cultural problems, including reducing silo mentality and improving accountability, that plague migration journeys. One member shared that they are currently attempting to shift their cloud migration conversation from an IT-driven to a customer-driven conversation; focusing more on what the cloud means for customers. Another member reflected on how they were able to fail faster and, in turn, scale faster as a result of addressing cultural issues. Ultimately, cloud platforms, which operate differently to on-premise solutions, require different thinking from individuals, teams and organisations.


This event was held in partnership with Unravel Data, Appsbroker and Google Cloud Platform.

Topics: Event reports

Written by Gabriel O'Brien

Gabriel works with the Editorial team to seek out the disruptors who are leading the change in their industry. He explores the emerging trends in the business and tech world, and creates content for our community of disruptive leaders.

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