Digital Data Management: The Cloud as the Model of the Future?

Friday, 27. October 2017

Digital Data Management:
The Cloud as the Model of the Future?

“The Cloud” has become much more than just an external memory extension. It is the solution that organizations need in the age of digitalization: Big Data, the Internet of Things, the increasing mobile use of the web and the blockchain technology require flexible IT infrastructures. So all roads lead towards the cloud, don’t they? But what need companies to take into account when implementing a cloud solution?

A survey by the market research institute IDC shows the more and more important role cloud solutions are playing in the digital transformation process: 60 percent of decision makers in the European companies taking part in the survey think that flexible high-performance IT structures will help them to meet the challenges of digitalization – like reacting quickly to changing market environments, accelerating product development, reaching potential customers on all communication channels and real-time data analysis. In short: They believe the cloud will help them to increase their agility. In order to get there, 46 percent of companies in Germany already consider installing a hybrid cloud (explanation of terminology below).

A Cloud that Fits

t’s always difficult to implement progressive technologies in such a way that it integrates well into interacting and communicating touch points within an organization: applications, legacy systems, data, devices etc. have to be harmonized to the cloud and to each other. This means: In order to connect everything to each other, companies have to provide for technical interfaces between legacy systems and optional external data processing service centers, middleware architectures across all platforms and sustainable integration concepts.

A Cloud that FitsIn addition, the individual needs of a company have to be assessed before deciding on a special cloud solution. It’s quite often small and medium-sized enterprises who tend to make the mistake of buying a much too comprehensive solution, which is over the top and ties up resources that you cannot put into product development then. So, before following the cloud trend, it is important to find out which characteristics and functions will bring the best benefits to your day to day business.

But which options are there in the first place? Let’s have a quick glance at different cloud services according to how they are used. There are public cloud platforms as well as exclusive corporate clouds as well as in-between solutions.

  • Public Cloud: Data in a public cloud is by no means public property. In fact, the word ‘public’ in this context refers to a service – be it software as a service, platform as a service or infrastructure as a service – everyone can book.
  • Private Cloud: This name is also a little bit misleading because actually, this kind of cloud is of course commercial. ‘Private’ here means that companies run their own cloud and that only employees of this company can access it. However, it doesn’t play a role if the company keep its complete IT infrastructure in house or uses a third party service for hosting and management. Outsourcing is more and more becoming trend, though. The above mentioned research paper sees external data processing service centers strongly on the rise.
  • Hybrid Cloud: This is the happy medium. It offers advantages in terms of data protection whenever critical and uncritical business areas and workflows can be processed separately. Thus, companies can use public cloud providers and web-based solutions, whereas confidential information is exclusively kept in house.
  • Community Cloud: This is not the classical outsourcing cloud for complete infrastructures. The main purpose of community clouds is to make collaboration easier. Everyone involved in a certain project can access information and data via the cloud, no matter if they are all working for the same company. Of course, only authorized persons are permitted to this kind of cloud.

The Crucial Question

What about data protection in cloud computing? While the internet – as the name implies – is international, data protection laws are not. So privacy depends much on the part of the world the cloud server is located. This is of course a good reason for German companies to create their own cloud solutions (see private cloud).

Data Protection in the Cloud A rule to keep in mind is: The bigger the data, the more interesting it becomes for hackers. However, the amount of information processed worldwide is growing and growing, for example due to the internet of things, which has only just emerged. Therefore, it’s a good idea to develop cloud solutions with integrated security features right from the start – and not to try to make them safer with hindsight only. Besides adequate encryption, so-called self-defending apps, which come with genuine mechanisms against attacks, are vital for pro-active IT security management. These apps are able to identify code modifications automatically and to debug themselves while they are running.

It’s Getting Cloudy

Despite all pros and cons: Obviously, if you don’t want to miss out on getting ready for the digital age, all roads do lead right towards the cloud. Before long, technological progress will even provide better user experience. Such enthused about digitalization, organizations mustn’t forget – as a first step – to assess their present needs, but also the ones they will encounter in pursuing their long-term business objectives.

For this reason, experts for application development, IT security and project management and the executive level must discuss the individual requirements and find solutions that fit the company. This way, the road towards the cloud will be paved with success. Good luck!