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The Data is the Cloud

Once upon a time, there was a famous vision – “The network is the computer.” If you have been with ITindustry long enough, you would know what the company was behind the vision. Inspired the vision for computer, I am inventing yet another one for cloud – “The data is the cloud.”

The rationale behind the new vision is simple – almost everything we do with the cloud is around data. The cloud collects, processes, stores, secures, protects, serves, shares, analyzes, visualizes, reports (I am sure many more verbs can and should be here) data. The cloud of the data, by the data, for the data is the main theme of the cloud into the future.

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You may argue that the history of the computer has been around the data. That is very true – just think of the term “data center.” But the computer has been playing much more visible role in IT than data and network. We mostly see data as something attached to computer.

In cloud age, however, we no longer care where and how our computing is done and by whom. We therefore care more about data than anything else. In other words, the importance of data in cloud age is higher than ever.

The key to the new vision is the openness of the data: not only can the data be shared in the cloud, but also be understood consistently across by various applications. For that, the data should be based on open standards or de facto standards. Of course, you want to secure the data with open standards as well.

While the data being the biggest asset in the cloud, it’s not meant to be held private but shared as and by services. Many different types of services can be provided, from simple storage, file sharing, to data processing and business analytics. These services form up what I call new data stack, which I’ll discuss more in the future.

With explosion of Internet, eBusiness, eCommerce, social networking, the data volume is expanding exponentially and the data format becomes less structured than traditional SQL can handle. We now have more data to mine from the cloud. Good for storage vendors, even so for software vendors which provide frameworks and tools to make sense of the data to assist business decisions. Among these software vendors, I saw a new wave of innovations around NoSQL and big data technologies (Hadoop, etc.) which are gaining momentums and ready to burst.

Like any other vision, “the data is the cloud” vision cannot be realized without people. Following the vision, several new professions will rise to address the needs to make sense the data of the cloud, for example, data scientist, data modeler, data analyst, etc.

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