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Compatible Data and Cloud Strategies Lead to Winning Business Strategies

By: Scott Gnau, CTO, Hortonworks

Today data is the life blood of companies. Its importance cannot be undermined. Right from the inception of a business idea to its success, in every step you need to gather data, analyze it and then use the insights for taking any business decision. In a recent poll conducted by Hortonworks on the sidelines of the DataWorks Summit in Berlin, we asked participants how much of their data and analytics was moved or was being moved to the cloud. About 23% of the respondents said that they had or were planning to move a quarter of their data to the cloud, 15% said they had moved or were planning to half of their data while 10% said they had moved three fourths of their data. More importantly, 14% of the respondents said they had moved all their data to the cloud. One take-away here is that there is a wide variability in cloud strategies and that most will require some kind of hybrid data architecture to manage their data consistently between their on-premise and cloud deployments.

Data is being created everywhere. Such is the volume and potential that any IT decision maker in a large organisation has in place a data strategy. For example, in a seemingly data less situation like farming, data can be crucial. Real-time sensors on tractors combined with weather forecasts can drive better crop yields. As farm lands are scarce we must optimize the supply chain levering real-time connected data. Certainly, in smart manufacturing, there are many examples of how we can improve quality, visibility, customer engagement, manage the yield, manage the costs by leveraging real time data. It can help us know current weather conditions, humidity on a manufacturing floor, understanding the yield and then overall quality in real-time as things are being created. It is a whole new business of making things move.

Sometimes to store all the data in one place is impossible lest you get confused from where it is being generated. Sometimes it can be created out of our firewalls (outside our control) but certainly if leveraged it can make a huge impact on our business. To keep track of the data, businesses use cloud- an ephemeral storage unit which enables a single view. Think of it as a storage unit in a house which has exceeded its capacity and cannot hold any more data. That storage unit becomes your saviour and you can store all the important data in one place.

Cloud enables new levels of business agility for IT, developers, and data scientists, providing a pay-as-you-go model with unlimited scalability and no hardware costs. Suppose you want to run analytics for a specific project. The cloud then acts as an ideal platform for spinning things up in a short span of time and shut it down if you do not need it. That way it is flexible. As businesses uses lot of devices “on the edge”, the data from these devices starts living in the cloud. Because analytics increasingly requires huge volumes of varied data, it makes sense for the processing platform to reside in the cloud as well.

This is where we start to think about tying the cloud strategy to the data strategy. It is important for true success in this new world to be able to build that connectivity to enable the discovery of those new use cases, doing it in a way that complies with regulations like General Data Protection Regulation but at the same time provide the kind of business insights that are required to ultimately drive success and competitiveness in the marketplace.

Another characteristic that needs to be considered for these strategies is a whole different way that provides access. Data privacy, data security and data governance have become important. You need to consider a common look and feel for the security parameter, for governance including encryption and tokenization and rights management, so that you can understand the classes of users who should have access to the data and in what raw format.

A perfect mix of data and cloud strategy is when you use data on-premise and data stored in your cloud. Suppose you own a grocery shop. From the data stored in your cloud, you know for sure that in summer season particularly, demand for beverages, soft drinks, ice-creams go up. You will accordingly stock more of these to manage inventory costs. And as a customer walks in, your on-premise data tells you that this customer is a regular buyer from your shop, so you offer him a discount. This is a simple example of driving maximum value from data stored in different locations.  

Therefore, data and cloud strategy are synonymous to your business strategy. To be able to see patterns, connections in the data using technologies can help a business gain a lot of insights, ultimately ensuring success. So, do not wait for somebody to tell you what is wrong, let the data do the talking!

 

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