Cloud Data Management Disrupts Storage Silos and Team Silos Too
The cloud now has proven enterprise-ready and organizations are confident to expand their migrations of critical workloads to the cloud. This brings us to the topic of cloud data management for unstructured data and how customers are innovating by strategically blending cloud resources into their operations.
While cloud data management (CDM) can cover a lot of ground — from cost management to architecture, governance and security — for this article, we’ll focus primarily on the storage aspect of CDM.
While traditional or strictly on-premises data management was constrained by your current infrastructure and lengthy procurement and deployment cycles, the cloud provides endless options for performance, durability, availability — and of course each at different pricing.
Due to the vast differences in how storage is consumed and delivered in the cloud, organizations need new ways to manage it all. As well, with many enterprises adopting a multicloud architecture and storing data at the edge, complexity is only compounding.
The Cloud Brings Data Management to the Next Phase of Maturity
In the context of enterprise data storage, unstructured data management has been a practice for many years, although it originated in storage vendor platforms. Now that enterprises are using many different storage technologies — block storage for database and virtualization, NAS for user and application workloads, backup solutions in the data center or in the cloud — a storage-centric approach to data management no longer fits the bill.
That’s because, among other reasons, storage vendor data management solutions don’t solve the problem of managing silos of data stored on different platforms. Silos hamper visibility and governance, leading to higher costs and poor utilization. As more workloads and data move to the cloud to save money and enable flexibility and innovation, cloud data management has become a growing practice.
Cloud data management (CDM) goes beyond storage to meet the ever-changing needs for data mobility and access, cost management, security and, increasingly, data monetization. A cloud data management practice can help IT and storage managers take advantage of the latest cloud technologies without sacrificing control and measurement and without overspending.
They can safely move data between clouds, back to on-premises if needed, and apply policies so that all data is not treated the same but can fluidly move to the best location for organizational and departmental requirements.
Getting to Data Value
The traditional storage approach to data management has focused on data protection. With cloud data management, the focus is expanding to encompass value. This means that enterprise storage teams need to understand their file and object data. The best way to do that is to collaborate with the teams that created it and are collecting it from machines such as IoT and applications. Cloud data management is tearing down not just storage silos but team silos.
A Framework to Getting Started
Know your data and your business: Before you can determine the best cloud resources for your unstructured data, you need to understand the business requirements of your key stakeholders. In the past, many IT teams had little visibility into their unstructured data — much like truck drivers who don’t always know what their cargo is but are paid to get it from point A to point B without damage or loss. Yet there’s more to cloud data management than keeping enterprise data safe and reliable.
It’s now imperative to understand the value of different data sets to inform its management: how frequently it is used, its business priority and what level of protection it needs. Modern unstructured data management platforms allow customers to index their data — gaining visibility to make decisions for distinct data sets. Analytics can bring common ground for collaborative decision-making by showing stakeholders the reasoning behind moving files that have not been accessed for a year to cheaper storage in the cloud, for instance.
Data mobility: putting knowledge into action. With accurate data insights, it’s time to act and start moving data to the cloud. The major cloud providers now offer storage resources for all protocols: block, file and object with distinct performance, cost and durability characteristics. Your current workload may dictate the protocol — but you also want to future-proof the access to your data and maintain its portability.
Cloud egress fees present a major hindrance to cheaper cloud storage. Ensure that a CDM practice takes this into account by accurately predicting the need for data recalls while understanding how unstructured data management solutions that guarantee cloud native access can help prevent excessive fees. A forward-looking cloud data management strategy won’t lock you into a single cloud or storage resource. You’ll have the ability to manage your data over its lifecycle.
Managing data for value: This is where CDM pulls away from traditional unstructured data management: the realization that your data has value beyond the original application that created it and that cloud analytics services can unlock this data. Here are the top considerations for enterprise storage teams seeking to expand their roles to become data management professionals in delivering this value proposition:
- Assuring cloud native access with support for object storage APIs.
- Open/easy integrations with popular data warehousing analytics platforms such as Snowflake and Databricks as well as cloud native services like Amazon Sagemaker, AWS Athena and Azure Data Lake Analytics.
- Support unstructured data analytics by tagging and enriching file metadata throughout the lifecycle so that data can be continually leveraged in new ways.
- Evolve from storage-technology-as-a-service (STaaS) to data-as-a-service (DaaS); the emphasis today is on delivering holistic data services to departments not just lowering the cost of storage.
- Align with business/departmental stakeholders to understand data needs for proper planning and long-term objectives.
Cloud data management, while still an emerging practice, is bound to mature and grow with unique tools and services from data management, traditional storage and cloud vendors as well as security and spend management solutions. While cloud data management is one facet of the overall unstructured data management practice, it should be tightly integrated so that IT managers can see all their data, policies and spending, ideally in one place.