This is part of Solutions Review’s Premium Content Series, a collection of contributed columns written by industry experts in maturing software categories. In this submission, Vcinity CTO Steve Wallo offers his take on how to achieve a modern edge-to-cloud data strategy through several key considerations.
The pandemic accelerated the race to the cloud to derive more value from our enterprise data and enable agile, efficient global operations, but are we approaching it the right way?
The weight of data is slowing down transformation. Data gravity is the ability of a dataset to attract apps to it. As these datasets and the applications associated with it grow larger, the network speeds, data size, and complexity associated with moving that data to where it’s needed (such as near the compute or application) reduce business agility and create a data gravity problem.
With cloud first and digital transformation initiatives in full swing, we’re seeing more data and workload migrations from traditional data center to the cloud. That is not resolving this issue though; it is just changing its center of gravity. This data gravity problem is further exacerbated by the explosion of distributed data—at the edge, core, or on-prem—as these datasets must be brought to the center of gravity, reintroducing cost, complexity, and time delays each time data must be moved.
Overall, this situation leaves organizations with rigid infrastructures, non-ideal time to insight and action, and at the mercy of “one way door” type cloud strategy decisions. To offset this, many organizations have begun to pursue hybrid cloud strategies, invest in colocation (colo) solutions, and optimize the path to move data quickly and efficiency (such as de-duplication, compression, caching, or WAN optimization).
These reactive solutions fail though to address the data gravity problem and are location-restrictive, offering limited application performance.
Edge-to-Cloud Data Strategy
Leaps, Not Steps
The ability for enterprise leaders to seize the upmost impact from their digital transformation initiatives lies in their ability to reframe the problem. Much like media giant Netflix, who initially approached an underserved audience, or digital freelance sites Upwork or Fiverr, who questioned organizations’ expectation that only full-time employees or agencies could deliver quality work, accelerated cloud value comes not from small steps to optimize, but challenging the status quo. Specifically, this means challenging the expectations driven by data gravity: that data must be co-located with the application, and then that the location of data matters at all.
A Distributed, Accessible Data Ecosystem
New technologies enable leaders to do just that: create a hybrid, distributed, multi-cloud enterprise cloud strategy no longer defined by the data’s location. How? It can be achieved by leveraging technology that negates the need for the compute engine and data to be co-located, and, thereby, eliminating the data gravity problem.
Now, instead of the slow, cumbersome, and expensive process to move data to the applications, organizations can do the opposite: move the application to the data. This is accomplished by delivering ubiquitous, real-time remote data access while the data stays in place. Technology advancements like this allow for optimal, local-like application performance and user experience—without the organization paying latency, time, or operational cost penalties of moving data. This breaks the barriers between public and private clouds, removes the distance between edge to core to cloud, and makes global operations local.
Future-Proofed, Integrated & Agile Enterprise Cloud Operations
How does removing the impact of location and data gravity affect your enterprise cloud strategy? As cloud adoption continues to rise, edge compute grows, and more and more organizations are implementing a mix of hybrid and multi-cloud strategies, organizations understand that integrated, agile operations are key.
Changing the data gravity paradigm allows enterprises to rethink their data management and infrastructure requirements and reap benefits across a variety of operational considerations:
Security and Compliance
By eliminating unnecessary data movement, organizations can reduce their risk profile—avoiding IP loss while data is in flight, reducing the number of locations to secure, and easing data management (only a single copy to keep track of). Additionally, remote data access capabilities support organizations’ abilities to meet a growing number of global data sovereignty or compliance requirements. For instance, data can now be kept on-prem in a certain location but operated upon in another.
Enterprise cloud costs can be difficult to predict and quickly swell—such as egress fees (moving data between clouds or cloud-to-on-prem) or storage costs for ever-multiplying copies. Remote data access curtails costs associated with data movement as well as copies. This technology additionally delivers opportunity cost savings—such as increased operational productivity, reduced downtime, and the ability to maintain existing storage investments.
Flexibility & Efficiency
Simple, efficient operations are integrated and allow for business agility as priorities and strategies change. That elimination of unnecessary data movement instills more control in the organization by allowing it to choose where data is stored and accessed. By making data available at scale from a preferred location, organizations can drive competitive advantage and adaptability to work across hybrid cloud, such as more easily pivoting from project-to-project, easing lock-in, and allowing for future innovations.
Making the Art of the Possible, Possible (and Your Competitive Edge)—with Democratized Data Access
How does a world rid of data gravity become fertile ground for competitive advantage? Knowing data is one of an organization’s most important assets—the ability to instantly operate on all your data, from anywhere, has compelling potential impact across operations, employees, and customers—all centered around better, more efficient outcomes.
Improved Analytic Operation
Recent years and new technologies have driven vast advancements in artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML) and analytics—magnifying the value that can be derived from data. Yet, the success of these
applications is dependent on first accessing the data. Remote data access securely unlocks new data sources in real-time (even upon data creation)—unleashing a world of opportunity for better, faster intelligent outcomes. This has incredible implications across data-intensive workflows—enabling data-driven action across time-sensitive and edge applications, like remote condition monitoring, smart cities, and remote patient care.
Elevated Employee Experience
In a post-pandemic world, the physical and virtual boundaries of a distributed workforce has shifted beyond the walls of an office—and organizations are responsible for providing an equally productive employee experience. The ability for applications—and users—anywhere to access data everywhere provides the basis for a consistent, global workforce experience (and use cases such as remote workstations, remote video editing, remote support functions, and more).
In an age where customer expectations are driven by themes such as “now,” “me,” and “anywhere,” instant data usability from edge to cloud equips organizations with the ability to create and deploy new product and service innovations, personalized applications, and more to stay relevant with key audiences, delight customers, and expand into new markets.
The Future of Enterprise Cloud
Modern businesses require an enterprise cloud that is efficient, agile, and preserves trust in data and outcomes. Cloud technologies are enabling hybrid, distributed operations to deliver on this—advancing our abilities to do more with data from anywhere, at any time. As we continue to see technology development, sprawling growth of unstructured and edge data, and an expansion of the reach of the cloud—we must continue to challenge the status quo and redefine what is possible.
With newfound access to remote data, we will see new use cases, workflows, and innovations come to bear as these transformations usher in a better, smarter, and more customer-centric world.
- Key Considerations for Developing an Edge-to-Cloud Data Strategy - December 1, 2022