Shifting Your Legacy Data to Move to the Cloud

Data comes in three broad categories, and taking each one to the cloud demands different strategies to account for the different risks and costs inherent in each. Here’s what you should be asking your IT department.

Fact: People never really know how much stuff they have until it’s time to begin packing it all up to move. Similarly, most organizations never really know how much legacy data they have (or where and what it is) until it’s time to move it from one platform to another. This is even a bigger challenge when it comes to shifting it all to the cloud.

Most organizations that have been around for a while have tons of legacy data residing on their on-premise IT infrastructure. Broadly speaking, legacy data falls into three categories: structured, semistructured, and unstructured.

  • Structured data includes sales, shipping, payroll, and accounting transactional data. This data typically is very precisely defined, and is locked up within enterprise applications such as CRM, ERP, payroll, leasing and finance systems, and so on. It consists of many tables, typically in the form of relational databases.
  • Semistructured data, on the other hand, is tagged or labeled so that it can be grouped or categorized. One example is e-mail: individual e-mails do not fit into a predefined data format, but each e-mail is tagged with sender, date, and so on, which allows it to be sorted and categorized.
  • Unstructured data includes myriad separate files – often Word files, Excel sheets, multimedia files, and others – spread across network drives and various servers, PCs, and network storage systems. This data has no master catalog or management interface. This is the black hole of organizational data.

So, what should CFOs be thinking about before deciding to shift legacy data to the cloud?

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