Apr 07 2023

How to Unlock the Cloud-Based Benefits of a Modern Data Platform

Today’s environments demand the speed, scalability and accessibility of the cloud.

Given the amount of data being generated by a continuous proliferation of devices and users, organizations across nearly every industry are taking advantage of the cloud.

At multiple events in 2022, industry leaders have noted the prevalence of multicloud environments, which allow for greater flexibility, scalability and speed. These benefits allow for accelerated digital transformation, as well as an improved customer experience and a more efficient ability to harness the value of vast amounts of data.

And according to an October report by Gartner, “worldwide end-user spending on public cloud services is forecast to grow 20.7 percent to total $591.8 billion in 2023, up from $490.3 billion in 2022.”

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The Scalability of a Cloud-Based Platform

Rex Washburn, head of CDW’s modern data platforms portfolio, identifies scalability as one of the core features of a cloud-based platform. Cloud scalability allows an organization to easily turn features on and off, depending on given business needs. “Scalability means I can grow it or shrink it the way I need to,” Washburn said.

With added elasticity, users can scale their processing power according to periods of peak or reduced use. For example, if an organization uses more data analytics at certain hours or on particular days, the platform can be tailored to achieve greater speed during that period for optimal productivity. It’s a cloud-first, cloud-native approach.

In addition to optimizing operations, a cloud-based platform has the potential to be more cost-effective. According to Jesus Diaz, manager of the cloud-native data solutions portfolio at CDW, “The biggest advantage from any cloud is that you can start with a relatively low cost. Then, you can pay more as you grow.”

LEARN MORE: How automated building systems turn data into an energy-saving asset.

Optimizing the Cloud for Strategic Infrastructure

While running on cloud infrastructure may initially be more affordable, it’s still important to strategize to avoid pitfalls. Christopher Marcolis, head of advanced data analytics and data governance at CDW, noted the difference between migration and modernization and cautioned against moving data from on-premises environments to the cloud without proper foresight.

“If you're going to be in the cloud, don't just move your big pile of data into the cloud and put it in a special container that has to be left on 24/7 with a million cores running it,” Marcolis said. “That's super expensive to keep running versus adapting, rebuilding, refitting and using the cloud-native capabilities.”

To truly modernize your data platform in the cloud, your organization will first need to deal with its legacy systems and redesign a more updated data strategy. By truly modernizing your data platform in the cloud, your organization can avoid several common challenges, according to McKinsey.

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A Cloud-Based Platform Enables Data Accessibility

Cloud-based platforms are valued for making data more visible and accessible. In practice, this means that data can be easily shared “across business units and within enterprise alliances,” according to McKinsey. “By extending the availability of data for analytics use cases, organizations can unlock novel business opportunities.”

In this way, a cloud-based modern data platform is very future-focused, giving businesses the capability to build a robust data foundation with speed and agility. Users can also structure and analyze their own data to obtain real-time insights.

DIVE DEEPER: Why a smart data strategy is crucial for business success.

Added data availability also helps with compliance. “In larger corporations, cloud also facilitates the consolidation of data architecture across distinct business units through standardization,” McKinsey notes.

“It's essentially connecting all the data everywhere in the organization to make it available to everyone, making every tool data-informed,” Marcolis explained. “Compliance becomes achievable when all of the data has been mapped, because then you can buy those software solutions that screen text messages, picture files, spreadsheets, databases, inboxes and outboxes.”

Such data compliance solutions are available from many providers, including NetApp, SolarWinds and Veritas.

How a Strategic Partnership Can Help Modernize Your Data Platform

“A data transformation that successfully captures value through the cloud begins with comprehensive preparations that include both the enablers of the transformation and the transformation itself,” McKinsey states.

No matter where an organization finds itself in its cloud journey, charting a strategic path forward can be challenging. But working with a third party can help identify business needs.

CDW offers several infrastructure and multicloud services to help design and implement hybrid and multicloud environments. As IT decision-makers assess next steps, Washburn recommends two CDW workshops: one on modern data platform design and the other on data modernization, which involves building out a one- to three-year roadmap for modernizing the data environment.

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