Grounded in the Cloud
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Manage Big Data in the Cloud to Increase Business Agility


When customers ask me what type of cloud they should use to manage Big Data, I answer: It depends. What do you want to use the cloud for—storage, synchronization, analysis, integration, aggregation? And, does the data contain sensitive information? How large are the files? Do you need to access the data constantly, or only once a week? The answers to these questions can help pinpoint the cloud deployment that’s right for your particular data needs, to deliver the optimum business agility.


Given the breadth of the topic, I’ll leave data aggregation and integration for a later post. Today I want to focus on the advantages cloud can deliver for storing, synchronizing and analyzing data. These include:

  • Distributed processing for faster performance                                                                                
  • Scalability
  • Cost savings


By storing data and performing analytics in the cloud, you can take advantage of distributed processing to greatly increase the speed of your operations. Because you don’t have to move data over the network, you reduce traffic requirements and lower latency rates. The massive scalability available on an as-needed basis can save you the cost of building your own data centers and provide the flexibility you need to meet changing business conditions. The net result? Faster business decisions.


So which cloud configuration should you choose?



Going public


Public cloud is often the most cost-effective solution thanks to its pay-per-use fee structure. Say you’re planning to launch an online marketing promotion in 80 countries. You need to collect a lot of data on customer behavior, such as how many people get to the website, how many people actually get converted, what kind of things they buy. Instead of trying to roll up all those data points back into your central repository to analyze whether your promotion is successful, your data can reside locally on a public cloud, where you can then run analytics.


DreamWorks Animation SKG has integrated HP Cloud Services for public cloud with HP partner Panzura Global Cloud Storage System to implement a “follow-the-sun” content production system through a robust, global network that ties their distributed teams around the world. When one team on the West Coast finishes work for the day, they store their work files in the integrated system, so that colleagues in other parts of the world can pick up where the other team left off. The low-cost, massively scalable storage lets the company archive reusable content in a central repository that provides inherent data protection, says Derek Chan, head of Technology Global Operations, DreamWorks AnimationSKG.



The hybrid option


Many companies opt for the flexibility of hybrid cloud to increase speed to market, manage costs, and respond faster to business needs. 20th Century Fox, an 80-year old media distribution and entertainment business, relies on hybrid cloud to drive the digital transformation of its enterprise.


For example, the company needs to quickly produce and distribute to movie critics hundreds of digital copy-protected versions of films prior to their official release dates, each of which has its own production schedule. By relying on private, managed, and public cloud from HP, IT can ensure it has the resources on hand to meet the spiky demand and better serve the various business units. 


Watch 20th Century Fox Senior Vice President and CIO John Herbert talk about their journey to the HP Cloud.  



When private is the right choice


A private and/or managed cloud often works best for managing sensitive data and very large files. If you’re processing customer payment information or handling data that requires regulatory compliance, a private cloud may offer the optimal solution that meets your requirements.


The sheer size of extremely large data files can make public cloud prohibitive. The CIO of a satellite imaging company told me recently their business requires them to process extremely large files of digital images. Moving large data sets across a public cloud network would be very slow, due to the constraints of slow network bandwidth.


Instead, the company is opting to build its own private cloud, connected to an HP managed cloud through a dedicated high-speed network, which they can use to move and synchronize data in a speedy and scalable fashion. This approach would also serve as a disaster recovery solution after a catastrophic event.



The competitive advantage of cloud 


The massive scalability, distributed processing, and fast performance of cloud solutions can help you handle the resource-intensive demands of Big Data and be more responsive to the needs of the business.


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