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Cloud and data considerations for new business models

Enterprises need to manage complex data structures in the cloud without sparing security and compliance. Here's what companies need to consider as they move to embrace cloud adoption.

Today, there are no two opinions about the cloud. It is the all-pervasive imperative that nearly every industry is looking at, particularly in the current times, when the need to be resilient, flexible and productive is at an all-time high. In the past, cost take-out and agility were the primary consideration for adopting cloud. Today, CXOs want the cloud advantage to drive innovation at scale, market responsiveness and resilience. With cloud, organizations can store, consume and process data at speed and scale, deriving insights and creating new business value.

The significance of data and cloud in businesses today

Statista reports that the total amount of data created, captured, copied and consumed worldwide is forecast to increase rapidly, reaching 59 zettabytes in 2020. There is a rising trend of this data contributing to the digital economy. UNCTAD.org estimates of the digital economy range from 4.5% to 15.5% of world GDP, depending on the definition. The United States and China together account for 40% of the total value added in the information and communications technology sector across the world. This high generation and consumption of data have created a large opportunity for organizations. 

Another trend driving the usage of cloud is the increasing adoption of new and emerging technologies such as AI, machine learning and IoT. The growing development of new products and concepts such as autonomous cars and smart cities is creating a demand for a large amount of storage and near real-time computational power that only cloud can provide. Distributed data centers prove to be inefficient when accessing, analyzing or managing data, encouraging companies to opt for smaller data centers to arrive at a more secure way of managing and transmitting data. Edge computing is making its foray into technology roadmaps as vendors successfully bring processing and storage capabilities closer to the source of data.

In a typical organization, every business unit extracts data and creates models for its specific use. This creates islands of useful data insights that are not visible to the rest of the organization and often result in identical assets. To break these data silos, companies must consider using a data platform based on a cloud-native architecture that will allow them to connect through all the architecture layers in an enterprise.

The primary idea is to ensure that data can be accessed with ease by all stakeholders in the business ecosystem to promote collaboration and data monetization. A cloud-native architecture-based data platform can provision 'data as a service,' allowing both employees and business partners, including external agencies, to use and contribute to the data. Microservices, DevOps and APIs can provide the necessary framework to enable organizations to establish a connection between infrastructure, data and applications.

Every organization progressively generates more data as it grows in its business, raising the need to scale up. Data becomes a boundary-less resource, whose consumption is often driven by purpose. The emphasis on self-service capabilities, security and accuracy all raise the demand for cloud solutions that use data analytics and AI. 

Responsibilities of an organization adopting the cloud

Ensuring the safety of its business. Every cloud vendor offers solutions and services that necessarily comply with government-defined data security and privacy mandates such as the California Consumer Privacy Act. However, enterprises must recognize that the safety of their business depends primarily on the responsibility they take in ensuring their cloud solutions are aligned to the enterprise-level security strategies and to all the relevant international laws on data privacy and usage such as the EU Global Data Protection Regulation.

Only the organization can identify and define what constitutes sensitive information in its business, or what should be the policy for migrating data to the cloud or the approach to managing its multi-cloud environment to ensure data integrity. Companies must take charge of their employees to make sure they have the necessary skills to work with the cloud solutions and are adequately security aware.

The first step that companies could take toward building a data security plan is to get a data governance maturity assessment, allowing them to arrive at the best possible plan by considering the data assets and processes they own across the cloud and on premises.

Managing data with efficiency. Moving to the cloud can add scale, efficiency and cost savings but only when enterprises build the necessary policies around access management, data storage, data backup and recovery. They must strategize to balance easy access with security needs. They need to plan for each kind of data -- in transit, on the cloud, on premises, structured and unstructured.

Optimizing data storage to reduce costs and improve security. Massive data can lead to enormous storage costs. How well organizations optimize their data storage using the cloud can not only contribute significantly to reducing the cost of storage, but it can also maximize security and accessibility. Cloud adds flexibility and scale. Companies must look out for features such as automatic syncing, viewing and editing tools for the cloud, collaboration capabilities, security and encryption features and flexible pricing based on storage used when choosing a cloud storage solution. Last but not the least, they must also consider the kind of technical support the cloud storage provider promises.

The responsibilities of an organization are not limited to the above mentioned three areas; they also need to think about data governance and risk management. Exploring cognitive capabilities to find new opportunities in data or experimenting with new technologies that a cloud-native data platform can support are other areas to look at. With multi-vendor cloud services, companies need to manage a whole range of services, including streamlining resources, to ensuring that they meet the enterprise workload's technical and fiduciary requirements.

Enterprises need to manage complex data structures in a hybrid cloud ecosystem without compromising security and compliance. They also need to ensure they are meeting service level agreements. Partnering with a managed services provider that can ensure the smooth functioning of IT applications and enterprise operations while optimizing cloud not only makes it easier but more importantly, it leaves enterprises with the bandwidth to focus on innovation and growth instead of managing the nuts and bolts of a cloud platform.

About the author
Anant Adya is the senior vice president of cloud, infrastructure and security at Infosys. He is responsible for growth of the CIS service line in the Americas and Asia Pacific regions for Infosys. In his 25 years of professional experience, he has worked closely with many global clients to help define and build their cloud and infrastructure strategies and run end-to-end IT operations. Currently, he works with customers and the industry sales/engagement teams on the digital transformation journey. He defines digital transformation as helping customers to determine the location of workloads, leveraging new age development tools for cloud apps, enabling DevOps and most importantly keeping the environment secure and enhancing customer experience.

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