How Enterprises Really Feel About Big Data In The Cloud

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Prat_Moghe_picIn this special guest feature, Prat Moghe of Cazena gives his thoughts about doing big data in the cloud. Prat Moghe is CEO & Founder of Cazena, a company with a mission statement to make gathering information easier for Fortune 2000 companies who want to analyze it. Prat is a successful big data entrepreneur with nearly 20 years of experience inventing next-generation products and building strong teams in the technology sector. As SVP of strategy, products, and marketing at Netezza, Prat led a 400-person team that launched the latest generation Netezza appliance which led the market in price and performance. Netezza was acquired by IBM for $1.7B in 2010.

“What do you think about doing big data in the cloud?”

I recently asked the CTO of a large financial services corporation this question over lunch. It elicited quite the spirited response as he explained that he had no intention to move to the cloud.

His objections centered on various concerns (which are all legitimate) surrounding the process of migrating big data to the cloud: “The cloud isn’t simple. It’s complex. In fact, it’s really complex.” “The cloud isn’t secure.” “The cloud costs more.”

Since that lunch, I’ve spoken with more executives at large enterprises and heard hesitations expressed in the same vein. These conversations made it clear to me that there is a lot of confusion in the market about cloud adoption, and that many of the perceived roadblocks are misunderstood.

To get a better sense of how enterprises really feel about big data in the cloud, my company, Cazena, backed a research survey that polled enterprises on that exact topic.

Over 300 enterprises were contacted at a senior level, across verticals, and across business and IT roles. All firms had at least 500 employees, and a majority had a much larger employee base. I go into this level of detail to underline that this study truly reflects the sentiments of enterprises today.

Here are some key insights from the study:

The cloud is in every enterprise’s future. The survey debunked the common belief that enterprises are cloud averse and startups are cloud happy. A majority (53 percent) of enterprises are either using the cloud now for big data analytics or are planning to do so. Only 13 percent of participants share the opinion of my CTO friend and said that all their analytic processes will remain in private data centers. However, among this minority, 44 percent said that they would reassess leveraging the cloud once they had a better understanding of its security posture.

Cost reduction and agility are primary drivers for moving to the cloud. The potential for cost reduction (47 percent) and increased agility (31 percent) are enterprises’ greatest motivations for heading to the cloud. Both business and IT leaders largely share these reasons. Other drivers to cloud usage include customer demand, mobility, new apps and divesting infrastructure to focus on core competence.

Enterprises favor workloads that address core business needs. While there’s a lot of public excitement around data science, enterprises are more focused on leveraging the cloud for real, mainstream work over experimentation. The leading types of data-intensive workloads being considered for cloud migrations are real-time operational workloads and batch processing with SQL (both 43 percent). Data science is less of a priority (17 percent).

Enterprises want to migrate big data to the cloud. One in five enterprises want to move more than 100 terabytes to the cloud, and over half (56 percent) would move more than 10 terabytes. This underscores that enterprises want to turn the cloud into a production platform for large volumes of data.

Security, privacy and complexity are the main barriers to cloud adoption. My lunch partner was not alone in his concerns here. The top three blockers to potential migrations are security considerations and breaches (63 percent); privacy and regulations (39 percent); and complexity, expertise and data movement (23 percent). These are all understandable, given that today the cloud requires a brand new playbook for IT compared to enterprise datacenters. We did find that these concerns would fade to the background for the majority of participants (55 percent) if they possessed a “better understanding of the security posture of the cloud,” highlighting the need for education in this area, including the ramifications of SOX and HIPPA for cloud adoption.

This exhaustive examination shows that a majority of enterprises are convinced that the cloud makes sense for big data. As evidenced by my CTO friend, however, this migration will be an uphill battle for some. But I believe the benefits of big data, cloud and analytics will prove to be a winning combination that is simply too attractive and too effective to pass up for long.


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  1. Excellent article. Well done. Education to address fears/concerns is the main barrier to adoption of cloud for big data.