With as many as four out of five small businesses in the United States tipped to embrace cloud computing by 2020 and similar adoption rates in Australia, it’s no longer about just getting in the door. While previously integrating these new technologies into your business was enough to set you apart from the herd, increased market penetration will mean that organisations looking for an edge need to get creative.
One of the biggest growth areas within cloud computing has been data warehousing, helping businesses to consolidate mission-critical data in an organised manner in one easy to access place. This data is then categorised into one of several ‘data marts’ for use by certain teams and departments, ideally putting only the information they need within reach, enhancing both productivity and efficiency.
As part of a drive towards greater flexibility, the broader cloud computing industry has been pushing organisations towards adopting a new storage methodology referred to as data lakes. This framework differs in that it recognises the plurality of data that a company will have to manage, providing a single store of structure, semi-structured, unstructured and raw data. While this may seem like a step back, it actually opens up the door to even more intelligent insights, letting businesses interact with their data in the manner that best suits them. Compare it to having prescription lenses fitted and made for your unique eyes to suit different situations, contrasted with buying a pair of reading glasses over the counter.
A new approach from customers & service-providers
This shift in the market reflects a changing attitude towards the cloud. Where previously businesses were happy to let the available cloud services partially define their services or product offering in order to simply be working with the technology, the market has now matured sufficiently for businesses to start making demands themselves. This is highlighted in a comment from TechTarget’s Paul Korezeniowski cited in a recent study released by Microsoft – ‘Trend Report: Why Businesses are Moving to the Cloud’.
“Companies are looking to move daily business services to the cloud. That change is only possible if they can tailor cloud services to their own operations,” he wrote.
Greater variety means greater specialisation of individual products, allowing businesses to find a cloud computing solution that more closely aligns with their goals and requirements. Data lakes can be a real godsend for organisations, but when improperly set up or maintained, or bought off-the-rack with minimal consultation with the end-users, they can become a nightmare, draining resources and costing the company more time than it saves. With this risk in mind, many service providers are expanding their product offering, allowing customers to take advantage of hybrid technologies that better support their core operations.
A novel approach
One exciting growth area has been the intersection of big data analytics and cloud computing. Many companies are looking at how they can build data lakes that are tailored towards leveraging the power of analytics. These solutions deliver on the number one request of customer organisations – flexibility. Not only do they allow businesses to effectively store data in whatever form is most convenient, they provide a readymade framework for delivering insights from analytics.
Building analytics infrastructure on a data lake instead of a data warehouse offers a number of fringe benefits to business-owners, including a much faster time to market. As data doesn’t have to be moved or have a schema applied until it is requested by a user, installation of an analytical data lake only requires that data sources be connected together and a pre-built model deployed across the network.
This goes hand-in-hand with the drive towards data virtualisation, as businesses realise that a ‘close to the metal’ approach to their most crucial asset can open up the potential for accidental data loss and corruption. That same Microsoft Trend Report highlighted the growing rates of adoption of virtualisation services over the past few years with nearly 85 per cent of surveyed businesses already adopting or planning to adopt the technology within the next six months.
Greater than the sum of their parts
To truly get the most from their ICT infrastructure, businesses are going to have to look individual solutions built around big data analytics, cloud computing and data virtualisation. Zetaris offers an alternative – an analytical virtual data lake platform offering customers the benefits of all three technologies in a single converged solution.
If you’d like to make your business smarter, faster and safer, start a conversation with a Zetaris consultant today.