How enterprise will win back data control in 2013

James has more than a decade of experience as a tech journalist, writer and editor, and served as Editor in Chief of TechForge Media between 2017 and 2021. James was named as one of the top 20 UK technology influencers by Tyto, and has also been cited by Onalytica, Feedspot and Zsah as an influential cloud computing writer.

In 2012, we began losing our battle against data, as the amount of digital data being created, stored and shared reached new heights. At the same time, we witnessed a record build out of centralized infrastructure, as cloud vendors and enterprises built or expanded datacenters around the globe in an attempt to store and manage all this data. And the pace of both of these are only accelerating as we enter the new year.

This data escalation combined with the continued forces of consumerization and gamification of enterprise IT will lead to a clear mandate for CIOs and IT leaders in 2013:  take back control of corporate data. 

We will see a significant increase in investment around data management, particularly in data classification, storage, big data, and data protection.  IT will also start saying “no” to the many rogue cloud platforms, data sharing and collaboration services being used by employees, and will implement new policies and governance to control the usage and access to data.   To do so, IT will have to first admit that its employees are “in the cloud” whether they know it or want it or not.

This improved control does not mean going back to the days of network lockdown, but rather greater controls around the data and applications, while still enabling the agility and economics of cloud computing. As I advise CIO’s, IT should own the definition of trust and the criteria and controls around cloud providers and services, while enabling the business units to utilize cloud platforms and applications when needed.

Specifically, I expect the following key trends in 2013 across cloud, storage and data management. 

  • Big Data Gains Momentum and Investment:  In 2012, Big Data was the latest hype, with the Hadoop ecosystem and other technologies and architectures all the rage at tech conferences. This year, Big Data starts growing up, with more acceptance and implementations of Big Data solutions, as IT works to not only manage growing data sets, both structured and unstructured, but also to provide critical business insights from the data.  This is a huge opportunity for IT to truly have a seat at the table and to directly correlate IT spend with business value.  Other key investment areas will be data classification and data protection, as IT attempts to better understand its data and improve the security and access controls around it. 
  • Cloud Storage On-ramps & Hybrid Cloud Go Mainstream:  This emphasis on data classification and management will help businesses match the appropriate storage requirements, including primary or secondary backup, archiving, and disaster recovery, and drive greater growth of the currently young cloud storage on-ramp/gateway market.  Adding further fire to the cloud gateway market is the clear enterprise preference to maintain a hybrid approach to cloud computing and extend on-premise infrastructure to either a private or public cloud. Vendors are listening as evidenced by Microsoft’s acquisition of StorSimple in 2012 and actions by major traditional hardware vendors, such as HP, Citrix, Dell, and major network attach storage (NAS) vendors to embrace the cloud and extend their on-premise devices to cloud services. This hybrid cloud storage strategy will prove itself in 2013 and start to move beyond the SMB to the enterprise segment, although large companies will still prefer a private over public cloud implementation. Capabilities such as single-sign-on (SSO), strong data encryption, and overall storage management will become more critical with this trend.
  • Enterprise IT Will Come Out of Cloud Denial and Shut Down Rogue Services:  Research by analyst firms and solution providers, including Symform, clearly shows that many IT departments have been living in cloud denial, ignoring or not believing the penetration of cloud-based services and platforms on their network.  While file sharing, storage and collaboration services are most common rogue services on the business side, utilization of cloud development platforms (PaaS) by developers is as much of a problem. While not all IT leaders will shut these down, they will take back control of these clouds, updating corporate policies and governance and inserting themselves in vendor criteria and selection.  This is vital and directly tied to the goal of better managing and securing corporate data in order to maintain compliance and protection of critical data.    
  • Low Cost Replaced by Overall “Cloudonomics”:  In the early cloud days, low cost and the use of operational budgets instead of capex was one of the top benefits of using the cloud. In 2012, this key value pillar started cracking, as big vendors slashed cloud costs, especially for storage, and companies realized that cloud was not always cheaper.  Replacing low cost will be a more mature total cost of ownership (TCO) approach to cloud evaluation and budgeting.  Joe Weinman’s book on Cloudonomics outlines this approach and is a must read by enterprise IT looking to understand the overall economics of cloud.  Specifically, companies will be willing to pay more for premium services, including support and uptime, while demanding low costs for lower value add or commodity services. 
  • Cloud Outages Have Companies Demanding Stronger SLAs:  While no infrastructure is 100% reliable, just like no software is 100% bug free, customers have lost patience with the frequent and often long outages by major cloud vendors.  In 2012, customers bore the brunt of outages from cloud vendors, including Amazon (AWS), Apple iCloud, GoDaddy, Rackspace, Google, Microsoft and Twitter. And the cost was high with the average reported incident length of 90 minutes.  According to the Ponemon Institute, this equals a cost per incident of approximately $505,500 per company affected. As noted above, companies will be willing to pay more for stronger SLAs, and we will start to see clear tiers of SLAs to choose from.  As part of this, companies will no longer cut corners on how they architect failover and disaster recovery in the cloud. 
  • Enterprises Accept Distributed and Decentralized Cloud Approaches:  This is probably my greatest bailiwick, and many of my talks focus on the need to move to architectural approaches that embrace both distributed and decentralized models.  This movement gained traction in 2012 when the “green” cloud was debunked as cloud vendors built out massive centralized infrastructure, and industry watchdogs from Greenpeace to the New York Times to governmental organizations started to question the environmental and power impact. We have some great momentum with Big Data solutions, which require parallel processing and storage, as well as increased weight behind decentralized approaches with the OpenStack and CloudStack communities. Winners of this will be co-location datacenters, as enterprises and vendors realize they don’t have to build their “own” cloud infrastructure, as well as large vendors leading the “open” cloud movement, such as HP, Citrix and Red Hat.


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