“Data is the new oil, the new natural resource of our time” is something I have often said. Yet this is misleading. Having a lot of data sitting around is, in fact, worthless. The real value lies in being able to analyze large and diverse data sets and act on the results.
Just like air travel was once only for the elite, data analytics was once available only to the big multinationals. It was by no means perfect, with timescales of six to nine months just to build a viable data warehouse. Once that was done you would still have to ask IT to provide the hardware and data platform to do the data analysis for you—with no guarantee you would have the answers where and when you needed them most. You might have also needed a PhD in data science to understand the results!
+ Also on Network World: IT wants (but struggles) to operationalize big data +
Cloud computing changes all that by making massive computing power available to everyone. That means access to data is finally being democratized within organizations: virtually anyone in a business today can get the insight they need to make data-driven decisions at any time and in any place by moving data to the cloud. In the past, this was challenging when the data was transactional, but now active transactional data replication is a reality. Companies can run applications on the most appropriate systems with ease.
The flexibility of the cloud makes it a good fit for data analytics. Since the process involves analyzing huge volumes of unstructured data to detect patterns and gain insights for improving strategies, businesses using the cloud can scale their usage on demand and pay accordingly.