Data fabric architecture offers a competitive edge
Hybrid and multi-cloud services offer many advantages to enterprises, provided they ensure their data can easily transition between environments. Data fabric architecture is the answer.
While cloud adoption continues apace, there remain organisations that are still struggling with the concept, especially with regard to the principle of hybrid or multi-cloud systems. An example of the challenges they face would be the manner in which older governance, risk and compliance (GRC) policies seldom mesh well with cloud strategies, and can be a particular hindrance to the hybrid cloud.
According to Abdul Moosa, CTO for South Africa and English-speaking Africa at Fujitsu, a lack of relevant skills within organisations, coupled with a rather archaic way of addressing IT, continues to hinder businesses in their desire to adopt the cloud. Since many of these entities have no data scientists on their books and have not really explored the real benefits digital services like quantum and artificial intelligence (AI) can offer, they seldom see the value of such a move. Instead, they find themselves held back by their legacy IT and lack of skills.
“Perhaps the key concern for an enterprise wishing to move to a hybrid ecosystem is the fact that the hyper-scalers themselves have not proven as resilient as many expected. Many of these players have experienced their own unexpected, and sometimes lengthy, downtimes, something that is anathema to businesses seeking to move critical services to the cloud. Horror stories like this inevitably frighten those CIOs who simply cannot afford this level of downtime,” he says.
“This is why we are witnessing an increasing move to a multi-cloud approach; instead of putting everything in one basket, a growing number of organisations are taking to using multiple providers simultaneously. The challenge, of course, is that different cloud providers have different ways of reading data, which means that information being switched between cloud environments cannot be understood without something in place to ‘translate’ it for its new environment. This is where the data fabric architecture comes into play.”
Moosa explains that data fabric is designed to ensure a company’s information can traverse the entire multi-cloud ecosystem, without needing to undergo any type of data conversion, something that has always been a major issue.
“The other benefit data fabric offers is that, should the business receive better service from another provider, the exit strategy will no longer be problematic, but rather, seamless. Not only is it a key enabler of the freedom to choose providers, but it also affords a comfortable transition from on-premises to cloud – a scenario where data exchange, integrity and formatting are all important aspects of such a move.
“Another major benefit data fabric offers is for those businesses adopting an agile or DevOps focus, whereby new digital functions and services are made available rapidly and regularly. Obviously, switching on services like this across multiple cloud providers will be difficult. However, with the cohesive approach offered by data fabric, this is no longer a challenge.”
He adds that data fabric essentially gives data mobility, allowing it to be moved around easily and to have digital services like analytics and AI applied to it. Once this is done, it becomes possible to significantly improve the customer experience (CX). This means it is about more than just solving problems more quickly and transferring data across environments intelligently, but also about personalising customer service and experience.
“This is perhaps the most vital aspect of data fabric, since today, enterprises are seeking to differentiate themselves using CX as the barometer. AI clearly provides an edge in this regard, but only when the data it is using is clean and intelligible – something that data fabric assures.
“Since cloud is the foundation for digital transformation, and data is the key to such a transformation strategy, you need to be able to utilise these in conjunction to improve CX and to roll-out new digital services. Data fabric is the solution to ensure you can do this in a way that will give you a competitive edge,” he concludes.