Cloud Data: Traversing Businesses To Boardrooms


Judy Ko

Enterprises talk about cloud computing as a game changer for the industry, but the reality is far from it. The bulk of current enterprise cloud discussions has fallen into two categories: a) cloud computing platforms – which is leveraged by IT and data center operations, and b) cloud based applications – which is beloved by business users.

Cloud computing now has a third aspect to it which is coming to the forefront: Cloud Data. Data has elevated cloud computing to the boardroom agenda because enterprises are chasing data like never before. They aim to leverage data as gold or oil, to outsmart their competitors through approaches including big data and predictive analytics. The profileration of cloud data has been overwhelming since.

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Cloud computing is radically changing the economics of IT. Companies like Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services (AWS) enable IT organizations to migrate their data centers to the cloud via Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) capabilities. Companies like Informatica provides Integration Platform-as-a-Service (iPaaS) that combines application and data integration to support IT organizations to develop, execute and govern integration workflows among on-premise or cloud-based applications and platforms. These complementing technologies excite many IT organizations because they have become far more efficient and cost-effective than before. Few business executives used to care for this, until PaaS vendors started to extend basic compute platforms to disrupt the data processing market with offerings such as AWS Redshift and the recently announced Aurora.

The need for accurate analytics from the business is on the rise. Employee retention trends for HR, campaign conversion rates and ROI for marketing, product pipeline and territorial analysis for sales, are only a few great use cases of cloud data analytics. Data has entwined itself with the business purpose and thus, cloud data analytics has come to the rescue of these managerial roles.

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This shift goes hand-in-hand with the rise of cloud data analytics. Just nine months back, cloud data analytics was still considered a niche segment for those who were serious about “big data”, focused on building massive Hadoop/NoSQL clusters and hired a bunch of data scientists. It did not quite serve the business purpose then as most enterprise data resided on-premise. However, we have now arrived at the tipping point due to three drivers:

· The increasing adoption of cloud applications and computing services is shifting the center of gravity of enterprise data towards cloud.

· The launch of Wave, the Salesforce Analytics Cloud, will accelerate this segment’s maturation by sheer force of Salesforce’s market power.

· The increasing demand from business users of cloud applications is pressuring Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) vendors to embed sophisticated (yet easy-to-use) analytics into their applications.

Cloud computing is here to stay, and it will further penetrate into each and every business operation. To help enterprises embrace this change and new way of business, both PaaS and SaaS vendors are deepening their foray into the data and analytics world to address a few important changes:

1.  The rise of cloud data integration – The easy adoption of cloud is one of its biggest positives. However equally big as a negative is the re-fragmentation of data whereby data which used to be largely controlled on-premise, is now scattered beyond corporate firewalls. Enterprises need a cloud data integration platform to exercise control over their data, support seamless business processes, enable analytics and manage security – much like how they used to manage all of their data on-premise.

2. Data-centric security -Data security is now being discussed at every business forum across the world. The notion of securing the perimeter has become meaningless in the borderless world of cloud computing. Security has to travel with the data, no matter where it goes. The only way to achieve this is to fundamentally re-architect security approaches to be data-centric.

3. Board-level scrutiny –C-level executives and board members will start to care more about the cloud because they care a lot more about the data that can now be brought to the table in ways not possible before, to improve business decisioning. However in that same note, their concern over data security will drive them to scrutinize this aspect even more, including pressuring their CISO (Chief Information Security Officer) to fundamentally rethink data security.

It is no longer an option for enterprises to consider whether they should be ‘Cloud-Ready’. They need to be ‘Cloud-Ready’. This means being ready from a computing platform perspective, ready from a security perspective, ready from a data perspective, ready from an application perspective and ready from an executive engagement perspective. It is time to ready your cloud strategy for the next boardroom discussion.