A Foot in the Cloud


Data center services providers advise data managers to consider the value of cloud computing functions rather than just the cost savings they may bring

We've been hearing a lot about the cost climate in data management as budgets get finalized for the new year. So it's good every once in a while to step outside the immediate reference data space to consider other perspectives that could be useful for managing data. This past week, at Telx Marketplace, a conference for data center services providers and their customers, experts on cloud computing strategies pointed to developments and opportunities in the cloud that can affect how reference data will be handled next year and beyond.

Think of cost management as just a "foot in the door" to get the right cloud computing set-up for data management, says Ravi Rajagopal, vice president of cloud strategy and solutions at CA Technologies. Whatever cloud services a firm subscribes to must have a strategic impact, not just be a cost saving, he adds. Those services must be both mainstream and adequately sophisticated or they won't last. "It will just be a fancy thing that lasts for a few years and goes away," says Rajagopal.

With global cloud computing spending (for software-as-a-service) going from $49 billion in 2011 to a projected $108 billion in 2014, according to a survey of 304 companies' IT decision-makers conducted by GigaOM, a technology research and analysis firm with offices in New York and San Francisco, the cloud can hardly be written off as a flash in the pan.

Firms ought to put their use of cloud computing into a business context, but that context includes their value creation model, not just costs, according to Hunter Muller, president and CEO of HMG Strategy, a consultancy serving CIOs. That should be the basis for technology strategies and decisions concerning infrastructure and legacy applications, he says.

In Europe, for instance, cloud is viewed as a concept rather than a technology, says Job Witteman, CEO of the Amsterdam Internet Exchange, an Internet infrastructure and connections provider. "Cloud is something you need to do to build your business—not necessarily on the commercial side, but more from the data structure side," he says. "If you are a cloud provider or an enterprise buying services from the cloud provider, interconnection is much more important for cloud services than the commercial part of it."

With cloud computing growing and becoming a permanent part of the data management landscape, firms should consider the value of its functions and the way they draw both efficiencies and better data management techniques from it. That's a useful prism to view data management through going forward.

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