Stop #5 in the Big Data Archipelago journey: the Location Isle


Never underestimate the bandwidth of a station wagon full of tapes hurtling down the highway.” – Andrew S. Tanenbaum

There’s been a lot of buzz about the Location Isle for several years due to a strong interest in its cloud computing territories – private cloud, public cloud and hybrid cloud. Whereby this island is all about where to store the data, it works closely with the Data Security Isle (our next stop) to ensure that the data is protected, regardless of where it resides.

Despite the Location Isle’s popularity, and akin to the Processing Isle, you won’t find many marketers spending a lot of time here (but perhaps they should). They’re more interested in having secure and quick access to the data they need – big and small – and less interested in understanding the where’s and why’s of data storage. But a quick stop here helps marketers clear the air for what would otherwise be a nebulous discussion about big data with their I.T. counterparts.

Notwithstanding, we have traditionally centralized our data and platforms on-premises in our own data center(s). This has given us the most control over and provided the best security for our data. In the last few years, however, cloud computing has disrupted this strategy, providing additional storage options for both IT and the business at a fraction of the cost. And not that this conversation wasn’t interesting enough (relatively speaking), we now have big data.

The Location Isle in the Big Data Archipelago

The Location Isle in the Big Data Archipelago

A Big Data Best Practice for Location

The beauty with big data is that it provides a compelling use case for the cloud, while the cloud provides the resources needed to support big data. Some would even say they’re a match made in heaven. So instead of centralizing our data—big and small—like we’ve done historically, we now have the option to allow data to reside where it will provide the greatest value.

In other words, we need to consider the cost of storing our data – especially with the growing volumes and varieties of data – and determine if it makes more sense to keep our data in the data center or inside/outside the corporate firewall in the cloud. It’s typically cheaper to store data in the cloud, so it’s not surprising that many organizations are moving towards, or at least considering, a hybrid strategy of storing data both on-premises and in the cloud.

Big Data and the Cloud: A Match Made in Heaven

We all know that a strong relationship doesn’t happen overnight and often requires a lot of hard work. Big data and the cloud are no exception.

Before adding big data to your corporate data mix, you need to answer these fundamental questions:

  • How much big data do you really have? Does the volume warrant extending your current infrastructure?
  • Where is your big data coming from? Is it coming from internal, external and/or open data sources? Big data brings with it an abundance of data sources – some new and some old – and these sources are rapidly growing.
  • What is the nature of your data – structured, semi-structured and/or unstructured? Do you currently have the infrastructure and technology to support these different types of data?
  • And most importantly, what business problem do you need to solve with big data that your existing data cannot answer? A common reason many big data initiatives fail is because the business problem has not been adequately identified upfront.

Assuming that you have identified business requirements that require big data, you will need the proper infrastructure to support it. The cloud, with its reliable, always-on, stable foundation, offers multiple infrastructure options:

  • Internal private cloud: a virtualized, dedicated infrastructure inside your firewall.
  • External private cloud: a shared, but customized infrastructure hosted outside your firewall.
  • Public cloud: a shared infrastructure hosted by a third party.
  • Hybrid: a mixed environment of on-premises, private cloud (internal and external) and public cloud.

The cloud is also popular because it brings speed to innovation, rapid scalability, and a lower total cost of ownership – which makes it an even more attractive suitor for big data. To read more about this dynamic duo, check out my sascom article, Cloud and Big Data: Your guide to a successful relationship. It includes seven dynamics you’ll need to consider when bringing these two together.

Unquestionably, data storage is a complex topic – even for the experts – but it’s a crucial component on the big data journey.

Key Takeaways for Marketers

  • Big data and the cloud go together. Like a match made in heaven.
  • Don’t put big data into the position of being a solution in search of a problem.
  • The most secure location for your data is on-premises. The least secure is the public cloud.
  • If in doubt, consult with the I.T. Wizard. You will find him roaming among the On-Premises mists at the north end of the island.
  • Cloud computing has digital appeal. But it comes with a cost.

This is the 5th post in a 10-post series, “A marketer’s journey through the Big Data Archipelago.” This series explores 10 key best practices for big data and why marketers should care. Our next stop is the Data Governance Isle, where we’ll talk about tackling data governance one project at a time.


About Author

Tamara Dull

Director of Emerging Technologies

I’m the Director of Emerging Technologies on the SAS Best Practices team, a thought leadership organization at SAS. While hot topics like smart homes and self-driving cars keep me giddy, my current focus is on the Internet of Things, blockchain, big data and privacy – the hype, the reality and the journey. I jumped on the technology fast track 30 years ago, starting with Digital Equipment Corporation. Yes, this was before the internet was born and the sci-fi of yesterday became the reality of today.

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