A Tale of Two Data-Centric Services
What a difference a single letter makes in sorting out DMaaS and DCMaas.
- By Brian J. Dooley
- April 13, 2020
The acronym DMaaS can refer to two related but separate things: data center management-as-a-service -- referred to here by its other acronym, DCMaaS -- and data management-as-a-service. The former looks at infrastructure-level questions such as optimization of data flows in a cloud service, the latter refers to master data management and data preparation as applied to federated cloud services.
DCMaaS has been under development for some years; DMaaS is slightly younger and is a product of the growing interest in machine learning and big data analytics, along with increasing concern over privacy, security, and compliance in a cloud environment.
DMaaS responds to a developing concern over data quality in machine learning due to the large amount of data that must be used for training and the inherent dangers posed by divergence in data structure from multiple sources. To use the rapidly growing array of cloud data, including public cloud information and corporate internal information from hybrid clouds, you must aggregate data in a normalized way so it can be available for model training and processing with ML algorithms. As data volumes and data diversity increase, this becomes increasingly difficult.
Emergence of DMaaS
DMaaS has emerged from a wide range of data center management tools. It is a growing specialty area related to integration platform-as-a-service (IPaaS) that is becoming more important as big data and ML create new requirements to manage large bodies of data originating in the cloud, along with growing pressures from privacy and regulatory compliance problems -- particularly from the GDPR. The field for this technology is diverse, with some services offered as components of IPaaS, some as standalone products, and some specialized to particular situations or industries.
In general, the specialty services in this area are focused on enterprise agility and ease of use, attempting to provide managed data access to companies that are moving into the cloud and digitizing their operations. This means that solutions need to be able to integrate data from diverse sources including other clouds and data that might exist elsewhere within the company. The as-a-service component makes this capability available to companies of any size. It offers a starting point for ensuring data structure data integrity and compliance across all data stores, presenting a unified access point and unified set of rules for data.
What's on Offer
Because this area is diverse, there is a wide variety of services that might be included. Solutions will overlap not only with IPaaS but also with backup and recovery and data center management tools. Some typical inclusions are:
- Data governance
- Assurance of quality workflows
- Data cleansing and enrichment
- Data quality assessment
- Library-driven regulatory oversight
- Assurance of data consistency
- Data protection and security
- Centralized access to data
- Global access to secure data sources
DMaaS provides a substantial benefit for many organizations that do not have sophisticated data center staff. This brings use of ML along with improved compliance and security to these companies on a subscription basis. With this level of automation, often backed by ML and other AI processes, organizations can benefit from advances in data technology without fear of losing control of their data or putting analysis at risk through improper management.
This does, however, come with some inherent problems. For smaller organizations, as the analytics environment becomes more sophisticated, there is a danger that unsupervised use of automated data processes will create unknown errors because the organization itself lacks internal awareness of potential problem areas. This can be remedied to an extent by consulting and educational opportunities, but it needs to be clear that there may be some risks involved.
Major IPaaS providers often have offerings or components in this area, such as Dell Boomi, Oracle Integration Cloud, TIBCO Cloud, Informatica, and IBM AppConnect. Among the specialty and niche vendors in this area are Druva, Igneous, HubStor, and Odaseva.
Refining the New Oil
As we move into this new environment, data (the oil of the current age) is valuable. However, the environment in which data lives can be complicated, depending on the industry as well as upon the size of the business. Data management is critical to ensure security and compliance as well as providing effective outcomes. Smaller businesses with smaller budgets and few IT personnel need to choose carefully between a fully-fledged management service and internal use of as-a-service tools. As companies move to more digitization and into the cloud, issues regarding data security and compliance become increasingly critical.
We can expect DMaaS to continue to expand and evolve through mergers, acquisitions, and service expansion. It has an increasing link to DCMaaS as a part of a comprehensive management service, but the wheels are currently still in motion.
Brian J. Dooley is an author, analyst, and journalist with more than 30 years' experience in analyzing and writing about trends in IT. He has written six books, numerous user manuals, hundreds of reports, and more than 1,000 magazine features. You can contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.