Data as a Service, at Your Service

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Cloud-borne data is becoming commonplace—at least at the edges of the enterprise. Organizations are relying, both formally and informally, on cloud-based services for supplemental storage, file sharing, and content management. The challenge now is to bring core enterprise data into the cloud, to render data ranging from financials to sales to performance analytics as services. As enterprises increasingly open up to this opportunity, the groundwork is being laid for “data as a service”—in which information is available from all places, through common web-based interfaces, regardless of underlying databases or servers.

“Everything is going to the cloud; it is an unstoppable force,” said Erin Curtis, SnapLogic’s senior director of product marketing. “While cloud-based business applications led the adoption of cloud services, data in the cloud is following closely behind, causing cloudification to happen in a big way. Managing multiple cloud implementations is likely to be the challenge of 2016.

But hold on—the cloud revolution has only recently begun its sweep through the infrastructure and application layers of enterprise stacks, with the database layer essentially still a new frontier. “A great many enterprises are leveraging the public cloud for performance-sensitive tasks such as running web servers,” said Brendan Ziolo, head of large enterprise and web-scale marketing at Alcatel-Lucent. “However, core enterprise data is not yet commonly stored in a public cloud.”

There are still some obstacles to a full-fledged move into the cloud, many of which are gradually being addressed by the industry. The most common obstacle to most cloud proposals—data security–appears to be lessening as an issue, as executives recognize that cloud service providers are capable of offering more security than in-house staffs. “Organizations are doing really well with critical enterprise data in the cloud,” said Chris McNabb, general manager for Dell Boomi. “For example, look at Box, which has data in the cloud, and DocuSign, which companies are using to send signed business contracts through the cloud. Organizations such as these provide sufficient security at low cost points for their businesses. When it comes to audits, compliance, and processes across the board, companies can maintain security levels aligned with what their own company provides, if not better.”

Overall, cloud providers are proving themselves by building “a strong track record of security, uptime, and durability,” agreed Gerardo Dada, vice president at SolarWinds. “Amazon’s AWS S3, for example, is designed for 99.999999999% durability, with automatic copies in multiple regions and encryption in transit and at rest.”

Even financial institutions, which are known for their abundance of caution when it comes to data security, are moving in the cloud direction. “Historically the biggest barriers to the adoption of public clouds have been concerns around security and regulatory restrictions,” said Prem Melville, co-founder and CEO of Social Alpha. “But now, even regulatory bodies like FINRA and the SEC have moved their internal applications to Amazon Web Services, signaling a change in the regulatory environment and perception of security on public clouds. Financial firms are now a lot more open to supporting solutions hosted on public clouds.”

“The misperception of security as the biggest challenge is in itself the biggest challenge,” said Ramin Sayar, CEO and president of Sumo Logic. “As large companies embrace and thrive with public cloud and move their workloads to AWS, public cloud adoption continues to grow. Sophisticated security solutions such as threat intelligence and anomaly detection are baked into systems from the very beginning.”

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