What Makes Data Gravity A Key Force In The Cloud

by Moumita Deb Choudhury    Dec 20, 2016

It’s been well over 10 years since cloud computing first emerged, and, in a decade’s time, the cloud has clearly had a major impact on every aspect of business. But the true weight of that impact may just beginning to make its presence felt. As more data pours into various clouds, the providers of those cloud computing services get to take advantage of more IT infrastructure scale. Plus, all the data stored in those clouds starts to attract more applications.

What Makes Data Gravity A Key Force In The Cloud


Dave McCrory first proposed the idea of data gravity few years back. He explained, considering data as if it were a planet or other object with sufficient mass.  As data accumulates (builds mass) there is a greater likelihood that additional services and applications will be attracted to this data. This is the same effect gravity has on objects around a planet.  As the mass or density increases, so does the strength of gravitational pull. 



As things get closer to the mass, they accelerate toward the mass at an increasingly faster velocity. This can be described as the ‘pull’ of the data. This data gravity has revamped the cause for migrating to the cloud and is also starting to change as cloud computing environments achieve new paradigm.

The Data Gravit(y)ational Pull

The providers of cloud computing services are gaining advantage of more IT infrastructure scale due to data gravity. Cloud has become the platform for the next transition. With all the progress made, cloud is still only the way technology can be delivered and not the end of road. In fact, this is where the enterprise has begun to accelerate further.

The developers of applications have shown preference for hosting their applications in locations where there is already data inundation. This approach provides access to a pre-existing pool of data reducing the need to move them from one IT space to another.

According to Forrester Analyst, Dave Bartoletti, some of the biggest cloud service providers and corporate experts, Amazon, Microsoft, Google, IBM, formed a majority of the $87 billion market in 2015, for cloud services. This figure will go up to $146 billion, where some of these players will be a playing a majority role in the series of cloud services, to provide to the world market. Considering this, there will perhaps also be some more localized players, who can cater to a more localized demand, but by and large, the biggest players in the market will occupy most the market.

Cloud Big Deal for Tech Major

With Salesforce.com expecting over $8 billion in 2017 revenue and with AWS run-rates now exceeding $10 Billion per year, the impact of the changes to these dynamics will be felt even more broadly and deeply.

Amazon Web Services (AWS) is now 10-years old, currently growing at a rate of 55% year-on-year, and has $13 billion in annual sales. It also provides 70 varied services to various enterprises in areas like computing, storage, database management, data analytics, mobile solutions, IoT, and enterprise applications.

AWS cloud generates $10 billion in annual sales. More significantly, there are now more than 2,300 applications listed in the AWS online store. As adoption of those applications increases, so too does the amount of data stored in the AWS cloud.

Microsoft has invested heavily in the Azure cloud service, but the mass data is generated by the Microsoft Office 365 applications. This data delivers the scale Microsoft requires to be able to compete on pricing.

Google has also pooled in massive investments in big data technologies to drive Google Search which makes it competitive. However, its major focus is to recruit developers.

IBM, Oracle and SAP are also leveraging the platform to amass a sea of data around vertical industry segments.

The business implications

With all the data adding to the mass of the cloud, moving into the cloud regardless of how large the next application may be, it’s always best to consider the long-term effects of your user base’s growth as well as the resources the application will consume. Some top of the mind considerations that have to be made are; the appropriate time span before it cannot be moved easily; the effect data gravity will have on other application resources; the value the present data will have on other services that may be located further away; and the issues that will arise if the data cannot be moved.

It’s important to explore areas such as right software, architecture, storage, and vendors while considering any company-wide solution.

Another aspect to be kept in mind is that, it is not always mandatory that the size of the company will deliver the size of result. Carefully selecting the vendor is as important. The implementation decisions that are made initially builds the base for future results in harnessing timely and relevant business intelligence. It offers the flexibility to shift, maneuver or analyze data to utilize the information in the right direction.

Sometimes organizations (vendors) produce innumerable documents each year where you cannot gage into the “dark data”- (Gartner describes dark data as “information assets that organizations collect, process and store in the course of their regular business activity, but generally fail to use for other purposes). The methods they use to store and analyze their data are many but fragmented. Offerings from vendor who brings together storage, search, governance, recovery and security into a unified platform is the way forward for successful business.

Company value being the ultimate intention, cautious planning forms the most crucial phase with data gravity in consideration for all the projects while building the business roadmap.