Importance of Cloud to Big Data Operational Platforms

Disruptive and data-driven organizations such as Netflix have created competitive advantage through the effective use of high-volume multi-structured data, not accepting the restrictions of on-premises data centers to hold back their growth. These disruptive organizations realize that their resources - capital and staff headcount - can be more effectively allocated to the next business problem and not focused on the “care and feeding” of an inflexible data center architecture.

Recently I was briefed on a new EMA/9sight research study that addresses how data management platforms are utilized in the era of big data for both operational and analytical use cases. This end-user research examines how strategies, technical architectures and project implementations have been evolving during the past three years.

A significant finding of the report is that organizations employing big data technologies and projects are for the most part implementing them to fulfill a “speed of response” use case. This core driver highlights the concept that organizations must be responsive, requiring their data management infrastructures to match the organic growth of their customers and special processing occurrences such as holiday purchases or special events. Cloud-based data management infrastructures can accommodate the need for this type of processing agility by eliminating the need for organizations to make long-term capital commitments to make their infrastructure scale for transitory peak process loads.

In addition, the study finds that the most prevalent single workload associated with big data projects in 2014 was operational processing. Examples of operational processing are billing and rating processing, which enable organizations to manage their operational business in terms of day-to-day revenue generation and collection. Continuous database availability is critical to efficient operational processing; cloud-based infrastructures can guarantee high availability as needed without requiring expensive on-premise installations.

Supporting the “speed of response” use case finding is the observation that a vast majority of operational workloads that enable a company’s business processes must be completed in real-time or near-real-time latency. This fact is not surprising, as many of the competitive advantages of disruptive organizations are focused on processing information at a response speed that meets the ever-increasing needs of consumers in the age of Google and mobile applications. Again, cloud-based infrastructures can provide the agility required to meet response time requirements while minimizing risk to an organization.

The report additionally states that major business reasons for the use of big data management platforms include requirements to furnish event and product information for real-time analytical reporting and transaction processing. Although it is possible to implement an on-premise data management infrastructure to meet these needs, cloud-based infrastructures can meet modern organizations’ needs for reporting and processing agility along with fast response time with a minimal drain on a company’s resources.

My takeaway from the EMA/9sight report is that there is a definitive and growing trend for organizations to implement and exploit data management platforms that can enable the current demands of business requirements without placing constraints on or unduly influencing future corporate decisions. These data management platforms must support the growth of data without placing an excessive capital expenditure burden such as license investment or data center capacity in the near term to accommodate potential (and possibly unattainable) future growth.  Nevertheless, these platforms must provide flexibility for future growth if and when that growth takes place at the pace of customer base expansion, not at the pace of a procurement process or shipping schedule.   Today’s flexible and responsive data management platforms enable organizations to keep up with the pace of business without suffering unnecessary administrative and expenditure issues.

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