Big data, the Cloud and mobility are key trends for 2013
By Gary Allemann, Managing Director at Master Data Management
When it comes to predicting key areas of focus for IT in 2013, most analysts agree on three areas: big data, the Cloud and mobility.
These trends are driven primarily by business’ desire to improve the customer experience, while continuing to improve operating effectiveness in the face of ever-tight IT budgets.
Each of these three areas has its own impact on IT, but they are all part of a bigger picture – the data management landscape - which is changing the technology environment and revolutionising business, something which we can expect to increase as the year progresses.
The cloud is a disruptive technology that is enabling business users to bypass archaic IT provided solutions and bring new, unsanctioned technologies into the organisation.
Mobility has shifted the goal posts for infrastructure management – client server architectures based on the Wintel platform are giving way to mobile architectures dominated by Apple, Google and Samsung.
These trends have changed the IT landscape, but the major impact is that traditional large IT vendors cannot adapt quickly enough to solve the integration and data management challenges that these disruptions are bringing to the market. Start-up and specialist vendors are proliferating in the enterprise at a startling rate, solving problems the incumbents cannot.
According to Box CEO Aaron Levie, the emerging paradigm is the rise of the cloud stack. In the previous paradigm big vendors built their strategy around providing entire application suites. A single provider strategy allowed enterprises the theoretical benefit of reduced integration complexity.
The cost – a stack solution may do everything, but does nothing really well. Given the trends toward the Cloud and mobility, as well as the emergence and expansion of big data, this approach is no longer good enough.
Focused vendors on the other hand, offer the ideal solution to the needs of today’s business, each delivering their own specialist tool that works exceptionally well, and, importantly, integrates with other vendor solutions.
With cloud stack-based solutions, as an example, employee records from Workday can be seamlessly loaded in to Salesforce.com, cleansed and standardised in Trillium Software on Demand, or analysed using GoodData.
Cloud based solutions are driving a new level of openness, allowing better results to be driven from all applications. Unlike hard to implement, slow moving incumbent stacks, these solutions can be deployed quickly and cheaply, to support organisations of different sizes and to bolster weaknesses in existing enterprise architectures.
From a data quality perspective, there is a continuing drive to more effectively leverage existing systems to improve the customer experience. The tight economy means that hundred million rand projects to rip and replace existing systems are simply not viable.
Instead, organisations need to look at adding core components, such as a data quality stack, which will quickly and easily integrate into multiple existing systems. It is also important to leverage vendor expertise and apply prebuilt data quality rules in order to maximise Return on Investment (ROI).
Adding to the data challenge is the globalisation factor. For many companies, challenging market conditions are driving expansion into multiple geographies.
Africa is a key growth market for many South African enterprises, while other emerging markets such as Russia, India, Poland and South America are also seeing significant investment.
This global expansion brings unique data quality challenges as each country and geography brings new languages, new business practises and new legislative barriers to data management.
In order to combat this and minimise the risk of falling foul of compliance regulations, it is often helpful to partner with a specialist, global, data quality company.
Such an organisation can share insight and knowledge of these conditions, using local resources where necessary, to ensure that data meets organisational needs as well as complies with multiple national legislations and regulations across global boundaries.
Data quality makes or breaks every data intensive initiative – whether a new ERP or CRM application, improving business process efficiency, or ensuring regulatory compliance.
The consolidation of the data management market has seen the mega vendors swallow up numerous specialist MDM, data integration and data quality vendors – in most cases losing the key passionate, data management specialists that made the technology work. A technology solution, deployed by an inexperienced team, is unlikely to bring value.
At the end of the day, bigger is not better. Better is better. To meet the challenges of the year ahead, organisations need to start looking at smarter solutions that offer real value, using suppliers and vendors that specialise in their own areas and work hand in hand with others.
In this way, technology investments can be optimised by ensuring that only the solutions necessary are implemented, and that each solution is best fit to the business need.
The IT landscape continues to shift and change, but by being smart organisations can tackle these challenges head on and come out of the other side leaner, more efficient and more effective than before.
Master Data Management (MDM) provides specialist solutions for data governance, data quality, data integration and MDM. Leveraging the international expertise of its vendors, including Harte-Hanks Trillium Software, Global Data Excellence and Applied Data Corporation, MDM has provided solutions for clients in financial services, government, mining and telecommunications.
GfK and VMware: Innovating together on hybrid cloud
GfK has been the global leader in data and analytics for more than 85 years, supplying its clients with optimised decision inputs.
In its capacity as a strategic and technical partner, VMware has been walking GfK along its digital transformation path for over a decade.
“We are a demanding and singularly dynamic customer, which is why a close partnership with VMware is integral to the success of everyone involved,” said Joerg Hesselink, Global Head of Infrastructure, GfK IT Services.
Four years ago, the Nuremberg-based researcher expanded its on-premises infrastructure by introducing VMware vRealize Automation. In doing so, it laid a solid foundation, resulting in a self-service hybrid-cloud environment.
By expanding on the basis of VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Cloud Foundation with vRealize Cloud Management, GfK has given itself a secure infrastructure and reliable operations by efficiently operating processes, policies, people and tools in both private and public cloud environments.
One important step for GfK involved migrating from multiple cloud providers to just a single one. The team chose VMware.
“VMware is the market leader for on-premises virtualisation and hybrid-cloud solutions, so it was only logical to tackle the next project for the future together,” says Hesselink.
Migration to the VMware-based environment was integrated into existing hardware simply and smoothly in April 2020. Going forward, GfK’s new hybrid cloud model will establish a harmonised core system complete with VMware Cloud on AWS, VMware Cloud Foundation with vRealize Cloud Management and a volume rising from an initial 500 VMs to a total of 4,000 VMs.
“We are modernising, protecting and scaling our applications with the world’s leading hybrid cloud solution: VMware Cloud on AWS, following VMware on Google Cloud Platform,” adds Hesselink.
The hybrid cloud-based infrastructure also empowers GfK to respond to new and future projects with astonishing agility: Resources can now be shifted quickly and easily from the private to the public cloud – without modifying the nature of interaction with the environment.
The gfknewron project is a good example – the company’s latest AI-powered product is based exclusively on public cloud technology. The consistency guaranteed by VMware Cloud on AWS eases the burden on both regular staff and the IT team. Better still, since the teams are already familiar with the VMware environment, the learning curve for upskilling is short.
One very important factor for the GfK was that VMware Cloud on AWS constituted an investment in future-proof technology that will stay relevant.
“The new cloud-based infrastructure comprising VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Cloud Foundation forges a successful link between on-premises and cloud-based solutions,” says Hesselink. “That in turn enables GfK to efficiently develop its own modern applications and solutions.
“In market research, everything is data-driven. So, we need the best technological basis to efficiently process large volumes of data and consistently distill them into logical insights that genuinely benefit the client.
“We transform data and information into actionable knowledge that serves as a sustainable driver of business growth. VMware Cloud on AWS is an investment in a platform that helps us be well prepared for whatever the future may hold.”