Cloud computing is no longer considered a disruptive technology, but simply part and parcel of IT strategy today. In fact, it is almost expected that any IT approach, be it traditional or next-generation will contain some element of the cloud.
Cloud strategy has, therefore, become a business imperative. Managing data in the cloud needs to form part of the cloud strategy discussion, as it is essential that enterprise data management strategy evolves to accommodate this. In order to derive maximum business value from cloud solutions, organisations need to optimise their enterprise data management around the cloud and adopt an approach of continuous fine-tuning and adjustment.
One of the challenges with the cloud that remains even after all this time is a mismatch between expectation and reality when it comes to cost savings.
The opportunity for cost saving is often one of the key drivers of the move into the cloud, and yet for many organisations, costs actually increase as cloud usage is not effectively managed. A plethora of public cloud options give users numerous choices but can create issues for the organisation. Frequently, applications are migrated to the cloud without the knowledge of IT, placing data outside of enterprise strategy and control.
In addition to this, the use of multiple clouds, as well as inconsistent cloud policies, creates cloud and data fragmentation. The more locations data is spread to, and the less it remains within the control of IT, the more difficult it is to manage.
Data fragmentation not only creates management headaches, but also increases risk, costs and data governance challenges. To ensure cloud can be utilised to maximum advantage without cost and risk spiralling out of control, an enterprise data management strategy that includes the cloud has become mission critical.
Cloud computing itself can be leveraged in a number of different ways, from low-level infrastructure right through to high-level business services. It can also be adopted as a public or shared cloud service, private services dedicated to a single client, or most commonly a hybrid approach of the two. Cloud-based services can be adopted and exploited in many different ways to create applications and solutions to address business requirements.
For data backup, archiving and recovery, the cloud is a natural choice. However, as mentioned previously, data fragmentation across various cloud and on-premise locations can cause a number of issues. While there are many benefits to adopting cloud-based solutions and services, the challenge lies in gaining maximum benefit while at the same time successfully managing enterprise data.
An effective enterprise data management strategy should standardise data protection and access policies while providing flexibility for data movement across public, private and hybrid cloud. It should also ensure that data is delivered as efficiently as possible to all areas of the business.
Activating a cloud computing strategy that enables an organisation to truly leverage data regardless of its location requires comprehensive data management from a single platform. This is essential to help organisations move, manage and use data across on-premises and cloud locations. In addition, it enables organisations to take control of data across files, applications, databases, hypervisors, and clouds.
Solutions should be tightly integrated with leading cloud providers, so moving data to the cloud is fast and streamlined, and should enable free movement of data without vendor lock-in. Compression and deduplication technology should be a standard feature to make the most of cloud storage capacity, and data archiving should be automated to ensure protection and adherence to policies.
Furthermore, a single view of data and the application of consistent data management policies are essential in unlocking the value of data and enabling cloud agility.
An effective, enterprise-wide data management platform enables that IT delivers the data required for analysis and insight, which is essential in enabling any organisation to become a more strategic, customer-focused business. Tight integration of data management across all data sources, both in the cloud and in-house, is the key to unlocking the value of data and driving maximum return from any cloud investment.
By Nick Wonfor, Enterprise Account Manager at Commvault South Africa