Historically we have created applications roughly in the following manner:
Define requirements for the functions required by the business today
Developed some form of design specification to capture these requirements
Build out application logic and data models to transform the design into reality
Populate the application with historical data
Decommission legacy applications
Begin using the new application and add fresh data
At some point management will ask for reports on the performance of products, suppliers, workers and so on. These can be gleaned from the various data sets found within each application or by integrating the data across multiple applications.
The problem with conventional systems comes as volumes grow. Performance starts to take a hit, there becomes just too much information to manage and archiving or deletion becomes inevitable.
We recognize these problems when we use email applications. We’re constantly fighting a battle to keep on top of our personal data, endlessly deleting information that is no longer relevant for fear it will clog up our hard-drives.
But Cloud computing changes the game. Radically.
When I use services like Gmail I don’t worry about the “too much data” problem. Sure, I delete a lot of spam but I mostly just set everything to “read” and let it sit there, somewhere, in the ether. When the time comes that I need to claw back some information, it’s to hand, even going back several years.
Consider the typical employee. One day they may be employed and happy in their role so they ignore all those agents who try to contact them with new roles. The next day they find themselves out of work and desperate to reach out to new agents in the hope of work. The context for what they need from data has changed. They now need that historical data, it becomes the most precious information in their collection but if they deleted it then it’s gone forever.
If we look at this from a company perspective we can start to see the value of retaining their information in the Cloud. Business models are adapting faster than ever and the more data you have about your customers the more chance you have of reacting to change.
The problem is you don’t know what changes are coming, so by restricting your data acquisition strategy to the old legacy world of client-server applications and on-premise storage you are denying access to a bigger picture about your customers, suppliers, workers and everything else that drives your business.
Cloud storage and cloud computing is not just about helping make better decisions today, it’s about helping companies cope with the upheavals of change in the future. It’s a tougher sell to the business but the rules have changed. You can’t predict what decisions will be required but you had better hope you have access to as much information as possible when the changes do come.