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Cloud Computing – The Perfect Match for Big Data

An exclusive Q&A with Craig Sowell, IBM VP of SmartCloud Marketing

"Social, mobile, analytics and cloud can't be looked at as distinct technology trends; they are facets of the same movement and an everyday reality for consumers and businesses alike," said Craig Sowell, IBM VP of SmartCloud Marketing, in this exclusive Q&A with Cloud Expo Conference Chair Jeremy Geelan. "This means that businesses need to start looking at trends as one: cloud is the delivery, analytics is the unique insight, social is a shareable service, and mobile is the ubiquitous access."

Cloud Computing Journal: The move to cloud isn't about saving money, it is about saving time. - Agree or disagree?

Craig Sowell: Cloud computing is a transformative technology, going well beyond money or time savings. We believe the most important driver for cloud computing is how profoundly the technology can transform business and even entire industries. By offering enterprises scalable and on-demand access to computing power, while delivering broader access to apps and data for partners and customers, cloud computing can help transform an existing business, jump-start a new one, or re-imagine product and service design.

Cloud Computing Journal: How should organizations tackle their regulatory and compliance concerns in the cloud? Who should they be asking/trusting for advice?

Sowell: Organizations around the world are subject to varying laws and regulations, some based on geography and others on industry (e.g., healthcare, finance, etc.). Because these regulatory issues are complex and can range from how your data is protected to where it's located, it's important to seek out a global partner that understands the diverse nature of the IT regulatory environment. A leading cloud provider can help navigate regulatory and compliance concerns, and offer tailor-made solutions within strict geography and industry parameters.

Cloud Computing Journal: What does the emergence of Open Source clouds mean for the cloud ecosystem? How does the existence of OpenStack, CloudStack, OpenNebula, Eucalyptus and so on affect your own company?

Sowell: IBM has been a very involved in OpenStack, has dedicated hundreds of developers on related open cloud projects, and most importantly - has chosen to build all of its cloud offerings on an open cloud architecture that is based on OpenStack. We've learned through experience that open source and standards allow developers to share information more quickly and easily, and at lower costs. This leads to greater innovation. We are at an inflection point. We're focusing the industry on important standards for interoperability, and their open source reference implementations will:

  • Ensure that end users have a strong voice in establishing and adopting cloud computing paradigms
  • Reduce barriers of entry into cloud computing, such as development skills and freedom of choice
  • Increase the long-term viability of today's cloud investments
  • Prevent unnecessary architectural complexity and fragmentation

Cloud Computing Journal: With SMBs, the two primary challenges they face moving to the cloud are always stated as being cost and trust: where is the industry on satisfying SMBs on both points simultaneously - further along than in 2011-12, or...?

Sowell: Cost and trust are two very real issues for SMBs to consider, along with control over data, visibility into data centers, and potential service interruptions. These concerns are heightened when SMBs are treated in a "one-size-fits-all" fashion.  The reality is that each SMB is unique, with distinct security demands, organizations and operations. Fortunately, SMBs now have greater and more attractive options, including the ability to achieve choice and control over cloud adoption and delivery models.

Cloud Computing Journal: 2013 seems to be turning into a breakthrough year for Big Data. How much does the success of cloud computing have to do with that?

Sowell: With its unlimited compute resources on demand, cloud computing is perhaps the perfect match for Big Data. While two years ago, Cloud computing was appealing primarily for its cost savings, today, it is being rightly recognized as the enabler of Big Data analytics. With 2.5 quintillion bytes of data being created every day, the immense computing power that cloud offers is perhaps the only technology that allows us to collect, analyze, visualize, process and analyze these massive data sets. With cloud and Big Data together, marketers can customize sales offers down to the individual, healthcare providers can tailor treatment based on a patient's medical history, and even professional sports can predict the best playing strategy for a particular athlete.

Cloud Computing Journal: What about the role of social: aside from the acronym itself SMAC (for Social, Mobile, Analytics, Cloud) are you seeing and/or anticipating major traction in this area?

Sowell: Social, mobile, analytics and cloud can't be looked at as distinct technology trends; they are facets of the same movement and an everyday reality for consumers and businesses alike. This means that businesses need to start looking at trends as one: cloud is the delivery, analytics is the unique insight, social is a shareable service, and mobile is the ubiquitous access. In essence, these should be seen as one or consolidated framework, with cloud as the critical element allowing this to scale and be manageable enterprise-wide. Social in particular, powered by cloud and delivered via mobile devices, is seeing significant traction as many enterprises truly embrace the ‘Social Business.' By adopting real time collaboration tools and incorporating social media into their marketing and communications, organizations will continue to see great momentum here.

Cloud Computing Journal: To finish, just as real estate is always said to be about "location, location, location", what one word, repeated three times, would you say Cloud Computing is all about?

Sowell: Innovate, Innovate, Innovate.

More Stories By Jeremy Geelan

Jeremy Geelan is Chairman & CEO of the 21st Century Internet Group, Inc. and an Executive Academy Member of the International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences. Formerly he was President & COO at Cloud Expo, Inc. and Conference Chair of the worldwide Cloud Expo series. He appears regularly at conferences and trade shows, speaking to technology audiences across six continents. You can follow him on twitter: @jg21.

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