Welcome!

Cloud Expo Authors: Liz McMillan, Pat Romanski, Kira Makagon, Elizabeth White, Sematext Blog

Related Topics: Web 2.0, Java, SOA & WOA, Open Web, Cloud Expo

Web 2.0: Article

Maximize Your Return on Data: The New Business Imperative

Part 1: Lower the cost and complexity of sustaining your business applications

Application owners / senior-level IT allocate a certain percentage of their budget to sustaining, enhancing, and transforming their applications. In most organizations, the largest percentage of the IT spend is on sustaining the applications or basically "keep the lights on" type of activities, which leaves little money to enhance them to support business agility and new business requirements, or transform them to leap frog over the competition. Organizations that implement a solid data management strategy in support of their applications can maximize the return from their application investments. They can lower the cost of sustaining their applications, thus releasing budget to do what they should be doing, which is supporting the needs of the business. Innovative CIOs are actually rethinking their application environments, from just focusing on the application - the code, middleware, infrastructure, etc., to a new focus on the underlying data that supports the application. This new focus enables them to release budget and complexity from sustaining their apps, do what they do much better when it comes to enhancing their apps, and do brand new things they couldn't do before within their applications that will give them the competitive edge they are looking for.

How to Lower the Cost and Complexity of Sustaining Your Business Applications
Of all the things that keep organizations from realizing the best possible return on their data assets, enterprise application environments reside at the very top. Face it, application environments today are large, complex and generally inflexible constructs. Most companies have dozens of different types of key applications supporting countless business processes. Not only are the data volumes huge and the different data types numerous, but the data is often duplicative and the applications redundant across various business units. Moreover, the data is frequently hard to get to, the applications difficult to integrate and the quality of the data frequently questionable. No wonder it is such a challenge to provide a single comprehensive view of the critical data that the business uses every day.

This series of articles is aimed at helping organizations maximize the value of their data and applications, by moving beyond merely sustaining applications to enhancing them to support business agility and to transforming them to drive business innovation and growth. Because many organizations spend far too much of their IT budget on sustaining applications, it is important to first discover ways to lower the costs and complexity, freeing up budget and resources for innovation.

Cutting the Costs of "Keeping on the Lights"
There is a common set of challenges that most companies face around sustaining applications. These include:

  • Application Bloat - Whether the result of mergers and acquisitions, or business units going off and buying their own applications, many companies are rife with redundant applications that soak up maintenance time and money.
  • Data Sprawl - Companies frequently experience diminished application performance as the amount of data within the application grows. This in turn makes it difficult to meet SLAs and forces the purchase of additional hardware, leading to further costs.
  • Proliferating Integration Interfaces - There is a major challenge around integrating silo'd applications, and in dealing with the number and complexity of the interfaces required, which again increases costs.
  • Security and Privacy - Finally, there are the efforts and costs involved with securing the data in non-production applications, and the specter of fines should you fail to meet regulatory requirements around information privacy.

There are a number of initiatives that companies typically pursue to try to reduce the costs and efforts of sustaining applications. These include rationalizing the application portfolio by sending duplicative or inactive applications to the "application retirement home," archiving inactive data to improve application performance, masking sensitive data to meet security and privacy requirements, and finding ways to reduce the costs and complexity around integrating applications. The hitch is that organizations are trying to do all these things on a fixed budget and with a finite set of resources. Hence these initiatives have to be pursued very intelligently, making use of the best possible technologies to yield the greatest return on effort.

Getting the Most from Application Retirement
Capable of paying major dividends, application rationalization is an initiative being pursued by a good many organizations. Consequently, according to Gartner, by 2020, half of all applications that are running in data centers as of 2010 will be retired. If true, that represents a magnificent savings.

What does it take to retire redundant or obsolete applications and still provide seamless access to the archived data? Just because the application has outlived its usefulness, that doesn't mean that the data has. And for certain kinds of data, mandates demand that it be kept for years. Hence when an application is retired, it is increasingly necessary to archive all its data across all the data's sources.

Here is what has to happen to support successful application retirement in five steps:

  1. Mine the source metadata from the legacy application - You want to archive complete business entities, not just the transactional data but also master and reference data, and metadata.
  2. Extract and move the data - You want the ability to move, extract, and archive any data, including documents, attachments, images, and audio files associated with application and database records.
  3. Compress, secure and lockdown the archived data - You need to place it in to a secure, highly compressed, immutable file for later retrieval.
  4. Define and enforce retention policies - To ensure compliance, you need to be able to assign retention policies to different classes of archived data, apply legal holds to certain data, etc.; and to reduce the costs of managing ensured compliance, you want the ability to automatically purge expired records on a scheduled basis.
  5. Provide easy search access - You need to provide easy search and discovery access to archived data from any BI/reporting tool such as such as Crystal Reports, MicroStrategy, and Business Objects, and maintain access to archived data in database instances from existing application interfaces.

Improving Application Performance Through Archiving
The same steps, and same archiving technologies, also apply to archiving inactive data from live applications in order to improve their performance and reduce their TCO. This can take several forms, including archiving inactive data to an archive database in order to benefit from faster application response times, or archiving to an Optimized File Archive to effect substantial storage and infrastructure savings.

Importantly, a truly universal data archiving solution is strongly recommended, not only to support both application retirement and archiving from live applications, but also to ensure that you are able to leverage a single solution to address the archiving needs of all enterprise applications and databases, present and future.

Sub-setting and Masking Data in Non-Production Environments
The use of real data sets in development and test environments is widespread, and is necessary for good reasons. Frequently, this data is confidential or sensitive and subject to compliance requirements and the costs of not protecting it far outweigh the costs of doing so. Nevertheless, you need to control data management costs. Hence, when it comes to managing all the data in a test environment, you want the ability to:

  • Optimize performance and control costs by data sub-setting - Instead of using full sets of production data in test, you want the ability to create a functionally intact subset of the data, keeping only the data required by your business policies while maintaining all referential integrity. By working with a smaller set of data, you can shorten development cycles and reduce storage costs and the use of system resources.
  • Support compliance through data masking - By masking production data, you obfuscate Personally Identifiable Information and other sensitive data while preserving the data's usefulness in development and test activities.

In terms of flexibly protecting data privacy and confidentiality, Dynamic Data Masking technology can take you even further by providing real-time preventive capabilities. With this technology, flexible protection rules enable different kinds of masks to be applied dynamically to different kinds of data based on user privilege levels so you are able to engage in policy-based, selective masking and blocking of production data.

Reducing the Costs of Integrating Applications
For many organizations, much of the cost of keeping the IT lights on revolves around maintaining the "integration hairball" - the intricate web of point-to-point of interfaces between applications. According to Forrester Research, 87% of respondents to a recent IT survey indicated that they rely on hand coding for integration, and 75% of those admit that writing code for each integration effort leads to increased maintenance costs.

Another cost factor is the use of disparate integration tools so that there is no standard methodology and little economy of scale, not to mention difficulty sometimes in finding people trained in the use of a particular tool.

The way to substantially reduce the costs and complexity of integrating applications is to implement - and preferably, standardize on - a unified data integration platform with universal connectivity to data sources and targets, combined with the ability to access, transform, and integrate any data type, i.e., structured, unstructured, or semi-structured. To be fully useful, the platform also needs to support the full breadth of data latency requirements found in today's enterprises - batch, real-time, and changed data capture.

Importantly, a platform approach to integration will let you leverage a codeless development environment, so that custom-coded point-to-point interfaces and their expensive maintenance requirements become a thing of the past. Instead, development teams can leverage drag-and-drop development tools coupled with extensive reuse and sharing across projects of objects such as data mappings and transformations to speed development cycles and dramatically slash overall data integration costs.

Moving Forward Towards Enhancing Applications
The actions prescribed above have been proven to radically reduce the costs of sustaining applications, so that more resources can be applied to enhancing them and to driving innovation.

More Stories By Adam Wilson

Adam Wilson is the General Manager for Informatica’s Information Lifecycle Management Business Unit. Prior to assuming this role, he was in charge of product definition and go-to-market strategy for Informatica’s award-winning enterprise data integration platform. Mr. Wilson holds an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management and an engineering degree from Northwestern University. He can be reached at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @ a_adam_wilson

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@CloudExpo Stories
Scott Jenson leads a project called The Physical Web within the Chrome team at Google. Project members are working to take the scalability and openness of the web and use it to talk to the exponentially exploding range of smart devices. Nearly every company today working on the IoT comes up with the same basic solution: use my server and you'll be fine. But if we really believe there will be trillions of these devices, that just can't scale. We need a system that is open a scalable and by using ...
15th Cloud Expo, which took place Nov. 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, expanded the conference content of @ThingsExpo, Big Data Expo, and DevOps Summit to include two developer events. IBM held a Bluemix Developer Playground on November 5 and ElasticBox held a Hackathon on November 6. Both events took place on the expo floor. The Bluemix Developer Playground, for developers of all levels, highlighted the ease of use of Bluemix, its services and functionalit...
"For the past 4 years we have been working mainly to export. For the last 3 or 4 years the main market was Russia. In the past year we have been working to expand our footprint in Europe and the United States," explained Andris Gailitis, CEO of DEAC, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"ElasticBox is an enterprise company that makes it very easy for developers and IT ops to collaborate to develop, build and deploy applications on any cloud - private, public or hybrid," stated Monish Sharma, VP of Customer Success at ElasticBox, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at DevOps Summit, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
The Internet of Things will greatly expand the opportunities for data collection and new business models driven off of that data. In her session at @ThingsExpo, Esmeralda Swartz, CMO of MetraTech, discussed how for this to be effective you not only need to have infrastructure and operational models capable of utilizing this new phenomenon, but increasingly service providers will need to convince a skeptical public to participate. Get ready to show them the money!
The Industrial Internet revolution is now underway, enabled by connected machines and billions of devices that communicate and collaborate. The massive amounts of Big Data requiring real-time analysis is flooding legacy IT systems and giving way to cloud environments that can handle the unpredictable workloads. Yet many barriers remain until we can fully realize the opportunities and benefits from the convergence of machines and devices with Big Data and the cloud, including interoperability, ...
At 15th Cloud Expo, Shrikant Pattathil, Executive Vice President at Harbinger Systems, demos a video delivery platform that helps you do interactive videos. He discusses how Harbinger is accomplishing it in the cloud world, the problems they faced and the choices they made to get around these problems.
“DevOps is really about the business. The business is under pressure today, competitively in the marketplace to respond to the expectations of the customer. The business is driving IT and the problem is that IT isn't responding fast enough," explained Mark Levy, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Serena Software, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at DevOps Summit, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
“The year of the cloud – we have no idea when it's really happening but we think it's happening now. For those technology providers like Zentera that are helping enterprises move to the cloud - it's been fun to watch," noted Mike Loftus, VP Product Management and Marketing at Zentera Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
The 3rd International Internet of @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that its Call for Papers is now open. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the biggest idea since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago.
Want to enable self-service provisioning of application environments in minutes that mirror production? Can you automatically provide rich data with code-level detail back to the developers when issues occur in production? In his session at DevOps Summit, David Tesar, Microsoft Technical Evangelist on Microsoft Azure and DevOps, will discuss how to accomplish this and more utilizing technologies such as Microsoft Azure, Visual Studio online, and Application Insights in this demo-heavy session.
Entuity®, a provider of enterprise-class network management solutions, today announced that it solidifies its position as a market leader through global enterprise customer acquisitions and a refined channel strategy. In 2014, Entuity increased new license revenues in EMEA by over 75 percent, and LATAM by over 125 percent as customers embraced Entuity for its highly automated solution and unified architecture. Entuity’s refined channel strategy focuses on even deeper strategic alignment with ke...
We are all here because we are sold on the transformative promise of The Cloud. But what good is all of this ephemeral, on-demand infrastructure if your usage doesn't actually improve the agility and speed of your business? How must Operations adapt in order to avoid stifling your Cloud initiative? In his session at DevOps Summit, Damon Edwards, co-founder and managing partner of the DTO Solutions, will highlight the successful organizational, process, and tooling patterns of high-performing c...
The 4th International DevOps Summit, co-located with16th International Cloud Expo – being held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY – announces that its Call for Papers is now open. Born out of proven success in agile development, cloud computing, and process automation, DevOps is a macro trend you cannot afford to miss. From showcase success stories from early adopters and web-scale businesses, DevOps is expanding to organizations of all sizes, including the world's large...
Cloud Expo 2014 TV commercials will feature @ThingsExpo, which was launched in June, 2014 at New York City's Javits Center as the largest 'Internet of Things' event in the world.
“We help people build clusters, in the classical sense of the cluster. We help people put a full stack on top of every single one of those machines. We do the full bare metal install," explained Greg Bruno, Vice President of Engineering and co-founder of StackIQ, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 15th Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"People are a lot more knowledgeable about APIs now. There are two types of people who work with APIs - IT people who want to use APIs for something internal and the product managers who want to do something outside APIs for people to connect to them," explained Roberto Medrano, Executive Vice President at SOA Software, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
In this demo at 15th Cloud Expo, John Meza, Product Engineer at Esri, showed how Esri products hook into Hadoop cluster to allow you to do spatial analysis on the spatial data within your cluster, and he demonstrated rendering from a data center with ArcGIS Pro, a new product that has a brand new rendering engine.
"Blue Box has been around for 10-11 years, and last year we launched Blue Box Cloud. We like the term 'Private Cloud as a Service' because we think that embodies what we are launching as a product - it's a managed hosted private cloud," explained Giles Frith, Vice President of Customer Operations at Blue Box, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at DevOps Summit, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
The Software Defined Data Center (SDDC), which enables organizations to seamlessly run in a hybrid cloud model (public + private cloud), is here to stay. IDC estimates that the software-defined networking market will be valued at $3.7 billion by 2016. Security is a key component and benefit of the SDDC, and offers an opportunity to build security 'from the ground up' and weave it into the environment from day one. In his session at 16th Cloud Expo, Reuven Harrison, CTO and Co-Founder of Tufin,...