RESEARCH & RESOURCES

4 Reasons to Use Big Data in the Cloud

Two of the biggest buzzwords of the last year: big data and cloud computing. Learn why you should be putting these technologies to work in your environment.

By Yaniv Mor, CEO, Xplenty

In 2013, two of the most-used buzzwords were cloud and big data. In 2014, people are looking for new buzzwords, but that doesn't mean that last year's buzzwords have lost their luster. In fact, with more technologies being developed and growing numbers of businesses hosting their data in the cloud, use of both buzzwords will only increase.

What is it about the cloud and big data that cause such interest, and why is it such a good idea to utilize them? Perhaps you've heard about the OPEX (operational expenditure) versus CAPEX (capital expenditure) debate.

One important benefit of CAPEX is that it's yours. You control it, and you can sell it (a piece of hardware, for example) when it's time to replace it. The downside: It's yours, so when it breaks, something goes wrong, or you need to scale up, it's your responsibility to fix, configure, and maintain it.

OPEX refers to expenses such as employee salaries and electric bills that make a business run on a day-to-day basis. However, with the advent of "as-a-service" technology, the lines between OPEX and CAPEX have blurred. No longer does a business have to be tied down to buying its own equipment. Instead of buying of your own Exchange server and running e-mail in house, you can use Microsoft Exchange Online or Google apps to have this functionality "as a service." If you're a small business and don't have the time or money to build an on-premise data center, you can hit the ground running and just store and process your data in the cloud.

How does big data fit into the picture? Let's look at four key benefits of big data in cloud.

1. Elasticity

A company's data will inevitably grow. This is good because it means your business is growing. Depending on the business type, you'll have data coming in from sources such as social media, e-mail blasts, incoming traffic stats, log files, user events, demographic research, offline activities, and much more.

You need to plan and prepare for this growth, or the data will go to waste. Luckily, the cloud offers nearly infinite space and as much memory and CPU power as your big data needs. Let the competition worry about their hardware being a bottleneck for their business. While they'll be ordering bigger hard drives and faster machines, you'll be getting them now at the touch of a mouse button.

2. You can focus on your data, not system setup

New companies need to bring in revenue as quickly as possible, but those that want to utilize their data need to build a brand new infrastructure -- expensive new hardware and a bigger server room. Plus, you'll probably need to hire big-data-savvy IT professionals for constant maintenance. You will need a big data management system, too. Building one on premise could take months.

By using the cloud with the relevant vendor options (IaaS, SaaS, PaaS), this process could take just a couple of weeks, drastically reducing implementation time. It's a turnkey solution to jump on the big data wagon while leaving your sys admins free to do their real jobs -- keeping the business running.

3. You can access data anywhere

With business trips, outsourcing, and branching out to new markets, your company needs big data available at any location. You could spend the time, money, and manpower to set up an elaborate VPN, but the cloud already comes with built-in secure global access. Even if you don't need it now, as your company expands, some of the work may need to be outsourced, and new offices could open on the other side of the globe. The cloud is perfect for these global needs.

4. Pay as you go

It's simple: you only pay for the resources you actually use. On quiet days, things will be on the cheaper side, on crazy days with sharp usage spikes, you'll pay the right price. No more, no less. Consider the alternative -- buying super-expensive hardware to handle a sudden rise in demand. Most of the time the hardware will gather dust, its capacity barely used, putting the big bucks spent on it to waste. Add maintenance prices, and you'll soon realize that using big data in the cloud saves money on system resources and directs it where your company actually needs it.

Pay as you go used to be problematic because you didn't always know how high the costs would rise or spike, even if only temporarily. These days, however, plenty of solutions and professional services help you with that. Additionally you can reserve resources so you know what to expect.

Everyone is Heading for the Cloud

According to a study conducted by Microsoft, "Usage of paid cloud services could double among small and midsize businesses within the next five years." As of the third quarter in 2012, 1.3 trillion objects were stored in on Amazon Web Service's S3, fielding 835,000 requests per second, featuring more than 1,100 different software products and more than 8,000 technology and consulting partners, and that's just AWS. Think of all the other cloud providers including SoftLayer, Rackspace, Microsoft, Savvis, HP, and Google (among others), and you have a lot of people up in the cloud. Why should you stay down on the ground?

Yaniv Mor is CEO and co-founder of Xplenty, which provides coding-free big data-as-a-service platform, allowing organizations of all sizes to benefit from big data. Xplenty helps you create a big data culture within your company. You can contact the author at Yaniv@xplenty.com.

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