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TDWI Upside - Where Data Means Business

Why Enterprises Are Turning to the Cloud for Global Data Management

To manage geographically distributed data at scale worldwide, global organizations are turning to cloud and hybrid deployments.

Enterprises that operate worldwide typically need to manage data both on the local level and globally across all geographies. Local business units and subsidiaries must address region-specific data standards, national regulations, accounting standards, unique customer requirements, and market drivers. At the same time, corporate headquarters must share data broadly and maintain a complete view of performance for the whole multinational enterprise.

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Furthermore, in many multinational firms, data is the business -- as in worldwide e-commerce, travel services, logistics, and international finance -- so it behooves each company to have state-of-the-art data management to remain innovative and competitive. These same organizations must also govern data locally and globally to comply with many legislated regulations, privacy policies, security measures, and data standards. Hence, global businesses are facing a long list of new business and technical requirements for modern data management in multinational markets.

For maximum business value, how do you manage and govern data that resides on multiple premises, clouds, applications, and data platforms -- literally worldwide? Global data management based on cloud and hybrid deployments is how.

Defining Global Data Management in the Cloud

The distinguishing characteristic of global data management is its ever-broadening scope, which has numerous drivers and consequences:

Multiple physical premises, each with unique IT systems and data assets. Multinational firms consist of geographically dispersed departments, business units, and subsidiaries that may integrate data with clients and partners. All these entities and their applications generate and use data with varying degrees of data sharing.

Multiple clouds and cloud-based tools or platforms. In recent years, organizations of all sizes have aggressively modernized and extended their IT portfolios of operational applications. Although on-premises applications will be with us into the foreseeable future, organizations increasingly prefer cloud-based applications, licensed and deployed on the software-as-a-service (SaaS) model. Similarly, when organizations develop their own applications (which is the preferred approach with data-driven use cases, such as data warehousing and analytics), the trend is away from on-premises computing platforms in favor of cloud-based ones from Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and others. Hybrid IT and data management environments result from the mix of systems and data that exist both on premises and in the cloud.

Extremely diverse data with equally diverse management requirements. Data in global organizations is certainly big, but it is also diverse in terms of its schema, latencies, containers, and domains. The leading driver of data diversity is the arrival of new data sources, including SaaS applications, social media, the Internet of Things (IoT), and recently digitized business functions such as the online supply chain and marketing channels. On the one hand, data is diversifying. On the other hand, global organizations are also diversifying the use cases that demand large volumes of integrated and repurposed data, ranging from advanced analytics to real-time business management.

Multiple platforms and tools to address diverse global data requirements. Given the diversity of data that global organizations manage, it is impossible to optimize one platform (or a short list of platforms) to meet all data requirements. Diverse data needs diverse data platforms. This is one reason global firms are leaders in adopting new computing platforms (clouds, on-premises clusters) and new data platforms (cloud DBMSs, Hadoop, NoSQL).

The Point of Global Data Management in the Cloud

The right data is captured, stored, processed, and presented in the right way. An eclectic portfolio of data platforms and tools (managing extremely diverse data in support of diverse use cases) can lead to highly complex deployments where multiple platforms must interoperate at scale with high performance. Users embrace the complexity and succeed with it because the eclectic portfolio gives them numerous options for capturing, storing, processing, and presenting data in ways that a smaller and simpler portfolio cannot satisfy.

Depend on the cloud to achieve the key goals of global data management. For example, global data can scale via unlimited cloud storage, which is a key data requirement for multinational firms and other very large organizations with terabyte- and petabyte-scale data assets. Similarly, clouds are known to assure high performance via elastic resource management; adopting a uniform cloud infrastructure worldwide can help create consistent performance for most users and applications across geographies. In addition, global organizations tell TDWI that they consider the cloud a “neutral Switzerland” that sets proper expectations for shared data assets and open access. This, in turn, fosters the intraenterprise and interenterprise communication and collaboration that global organizations require for daily operations and innovation.

Cloud has general benefits that contribute to global data management. Regardless of how global your organization is, it can benefit from the low administrative costs of a cloud platform due to the minimal system integration, capacity planning, and performance tweaking required of cloud deployments. Similarly, a cloud platform alleviates the need for capital spending, so up-front investments are not an impediment to entry. Furthermore, most public cloud providers have an established track record for security, data protection, and high availability as well as support for microservices and managed services.

Strive to thrive, not merely survive. Let’s not forget the obvious. Where data exists, it must be managed properly in the context of specific business processes. In other words, global organizations have little choice but to step up to the scale, speed, diversity, complexity, and sophistication of global data management. Likewise, cloud is an obvious and viable platform for achieving these demanding goals. Even so, global data management should not be about merely surviving global data. It should also be about thriving as a global organization by leveraging global data for innovative use cases in analytics, operations, compliance, and communications across organizational boundaries.

For Further Information

You can learn more by listening to the 2019 TDWI Webinar “Global Data Management in the Cloud,” online at https://tdwi.org/webcasts/2019/06/diq-all-global-data-management-in-the-cloud.aspx. Some of this article is based on that webinar.

About the Author

Philip Russom is director of TDWI Research for data management and oversees many of TDWI’s research-oriented publications, services, and events. He is a well-known figure in data warehousing and business intelligence, having published over 600 research reports, magazine articles, opinion columns, speeches, Webinars, and more. Before joining TDWI in 2005, Russom was an industry analyst covering BI at Forrester Research and Giga Information Group. He also ran his own business as an independent industry analyst and BI consultant and was a contributing editor with leading IT magazines. Before that, Russom worked in technical and marketing positions for various database vendors. You can reach him at prussom@tdwi.org, @prussom on Twitter, and on LinkedIn at linkedin.com/in/philiprussom.


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