Data At Your Service: Cloud Begins to Reveal its Long-Term Value

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Losing control is often a difficult trade-off to make, said Grealish. “As more information on individuals and companies is placed in the cloud, companies realize they must address a series of privacy, compliance, and security issues since the information is now controlled by the cloud service provider.”

Grealish reported that Perspecsys consistently advises clients “that when you make the strategic decision to use cloud-based applications, it is important to start with a careful evaluation of what data will be processed and stored in cloud environments.” Grealish said his company recommends “a classification system of corporate data.” Based on this, “data needing protection should be encrypted or tokenized before it leaves the control of the enterprise environment and goes to the cloud for processing and storage.”

Organizations—not cloud providers—“are ultimately responsible for what happens to their regulated and sensitive data, so they need to retain complete control over it via security technologies that are available to support their cloud adoption strategies,” said Grealish.

Availability of Skills in the Cloud

Data security in the cloud is one challenge that enterprises are focusing on, but another that may limit growth is the availability of skills in the cloud data realm. Many enterprises are having difficulties finding and keeping talent that can help them execute their cloud data strategies. “Expertise in big data analytics and cloud data management is costly and in short supply,” Slade cautioned.

Often, skills shortages arise due to mismatched expectations, as enterprises expect cloud providers to alleviate many of their skills requirements. “Customers routinely express frustrations over the skills gap,” said Axcient’s Kuperman. “Cloud services such as Amazon Web Services promote a very attractive model that entices users to extend their applications to the cloud. The problem is that under the covers, integration efforts end up with the IT department, and such integrations are not always easy.”

The most effective skills mix at this time is a combination of data and enterprise architects. “The IT team of the future will need to blend a proper understanding of large data processing, data governance, and also complex distributed systems,” said Purpura.

Ultimately, a shift to data as a service requires a shift in the overall corporate and IT culture.

“There are a new set of skills that are required, both to configure and work with packaged SaaS applications, as well as to rapidly develop company-specific applications on PaaS platforms,” said Grealish. This also requires new skills and collaboration approaches in data governance, legal and security functions. “You need expertise in how to structure cloud contracts, how to do the forensics on where data is flowing and who has access to it at any given time. An understanding of all applicable sector-based and geographic-based data regulations and guidelines is also required.”

The convergence of private and public cloud-based services creates a layered hybrid cloud that necessitates new types of skills to manage, Xamin’s Smothers agreed. “The shift of services to the public cloud requires IT professionals to focus on security and vendor management in addition to traditional skills. Professionals that possess both business and technical skills will benefit the most as the shift to public cloud services continues to evolve.”

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