big data cloud

Before moving the data to the cloud, ask any CIO to list his or her most important business assets and you can bet that the company’s corporate data will head up that tally.

After all, this is the information about what materials and products the company buy, from whom and under what terms. The squishy term “data” also includes what products and services it has sold to which customers; the people it employs; and information about customers and partners. Combined, this data constitutes the life blood of your organization.

Some of that data is subject to rules imposed by outside regulatory bodies. Much of it is proprietary to specific groups within your company. And, in its entirety, that data trove needs to be treated with utmost care. While the mantra of “data is the new oil” has come under fire of late, it is no exaggeration to say that this data generated by and about your organization really does power your business going forward.

big data cloud

Data is Job One, Not an Afterthought

For all of the aforementioned reasons, the decision to move your data and the applications running on that data to the cloud should start with that data discussion first and foremost.

The landscape is very different than in the early days of cloud computing. 10 or 12 years ago, startups and small development teams within larger companies flocked to cloud so they could “spin up” computing and storage resources in someone else’s data center (aka the cloud) to develop and test new ideas for software. They used those resources as needed, then shut them down. This pay-as-you-go model -often funded by personal credit cards or petty cash- was attractive to teams that wanted to prototype new software fast and furious.

All of this activity typically happened beyond the purview of CIOs and other IT leaders and took place without pumping a lot of real data into someone else’s infrastructure.

The picture now is much different as big companies and their IT leaders know that even their important existing applications and data needs to be re-homed and that means moving them to cloud infrastructure—whether that infrastructure runs on-premises or in a public cloud.

Data Cloud is More Than Fun and Games

Does it make sense for a CIO to entrust company data to the same type of infrastructure that runs Angry Birds? No disrespect to Angry Birds, or the cloud on which it runs, but the use cases are much different.

If a game goes down or gets glitchy, players will be irritated but everyone will recover. If a manufacturing company, bank, or healthcare provider is unable to track inventory, log transactions, or fulfill prescriptions, the repercussions are far more serious.

CIOs and their C-level colleagues should ensure that their prospective cloud infrastructure was built with security protections integrated into core cloud systems including the databases, out to the furthest edges of the network. And that the databases they run for key operations will run efficiently and safely in their new home.

And if the new cloud offers a security story that also includes autonomous database software updates and patches, that’s an appealing story. Add to that an early warning system to flag system volatility out on the Internet, at the edges of the network that’s pretty powerful.

Despite the hype around cloud migrations, it’s clear that most big companies have yet to put their key databases and related enterprise applications in the cloud. One researcher estimates that just 15% to 30% of all enterprise workloads have made the move to date. That means there’s a ton of work to be done.

But before making that move, it makes sense for companies to take a deep look at which cloud infrastructure is best suited to handle their treasure trove of data. Infrastructure that carefully incorporates artificial intelligence, machine learning, and analytics to streamline and safeguard data handling will boost the odds of future success.