Insight and analysis on the data center space from industry thought leaders.

Moving Beyond Cloud Magic to the Prestige of New Insights

Enabled by the cloud, things like machine learning and AI environments are becoming a reality and challenging previously set boundaries.

Industry Perspectives

August 9, 2019

5 Min Read
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Prem Ananthakrishnan is VP of Products for Druva.

In the hands of a skilled magician, even the most basic trick can become mesmerizing. But this is especially challenging when the audience has seen the trick many times before. For instance, if a magician pulls out a top hat, the audience expects a rabbit to appear at some point. Going beyond these expectations is what makes a trick memorable versus mundane.

Christopher Nolan’s movie The Prestige addresses this idea directly, breaking a trick into three parts: the pledge, the turn, and the prestige. First the magician flashes an ordinary object, like a rabbit or a pack of cards; that’s the pledge. The turn happens as the magician does something shocking — like sawing his assistant in half. But the prestige creates the magical and entertainment value that transforms the audience’s expectations, like putting that sawed-in-half assistant back together.  

This concept extends beyond the realm of magic. When applied to the world of cloud computing, it helps show companies the full and nearly limitless potential of the cloud. Many move to the cloud for the tactical aspects - lower costs, less overhead, etc. - but the prestige gives a glimpse of the payoff for business if the cloud is leveraged correctly.

Consider a cloud solution that uses machine learning to identify anomalies, optimize backup, storage and cost. Based on file extension, age of data, and time since last use, the solution makes recommendations about files that could be deleted, highlighting the reduced cloud bill that would result. 

Or perhaps this technology potential looks like recovery efficiency. Rather than manually sifting through each day’s backups to find needed files, suppose the solution can identify the optimal recovery point. Now think about that from a security perspective. When malware strikes, finding a clean version of the file, pre-infection, too often requires multiple cycles of restore-and-test, taking hours of work on the part of the Ops team and security practitioners. An intelligent solution uses machine learning to pinpoint the file in its pristine state, streamlining the process and allowing you recover lost data with speed and confidence. 

There are many such examples where the cloud, when combined with the right data and enabling technology, can change the experience from commonplace to extraordinary.

What Does This Mean in Practice?

There’s no question that in the world of technology, even more than magic, expectations increase rapidly. When the cloud was first introduced, its main differentiating value was enabling companies to access seemingly limitless resources on demand through APIs from a remote service. Services such as Amazon’s S3 object storage and EC2 compute engines brought new levels of availability, reliability and cost optimization the industry had never experienced, let alone thought was possible . Quickly though, new applications, features and advancements were introduced, turning those original innovations into mere table stakes for new vendors looking to join the market. 

Enabled by the cloud, things like machine learning and AI environments are becoming a reality and challenging previously set boundaries. The exciting piece about these emerging technologies is that they are not simply “add-ons” but enablers that will open up new doors onto previously uncharted possibilities. 

But ultimately the focus has to be on what the cloud can do for the future of your business. “Go to cloud” everyone says, but getting to the cloud is not a goal, it’s a means to an end for something that delivers business benefit. For most businesses, the normal expectation is that they will move to  the cloud and  tap into the acknowledged benefits of lower costs, less overhead, autoscaling and other well-advertised cloud capabilities.

But far too often, companies stop there — and that’s a mistake.

Are You Watching Closely?

To capture the true value of the cloud, companies need to move beyond migrating their current workloads to the cloud. They must also leverage the unique features of the cloud, from adding in AI and machine learning, to protecting data, and then using it in new ways to inform the business by adding benefits that weren’t possible prior to the cloud.

Nearly unlimited amounts of data can be stored most cost effectively and in a simpler fashion in the cloud. This is essentially the pledge aspect of cloud data storage. The turn is when data can be ingested straight into the cloud, eliminating the silos that exist in data centers, while also removing the requirements for purchasing and maintaining hardware. And now, the prestige becomes things like automation, AI and machine learning, which help companies use this data in innovative ways.

One of the prime enhancements the cloud offers is using AI and analytics to extract previously untapped value from existing data. It can also automate rote tasks that previously required manual input and were likely prone to user error. These are insights and workstream efficiencies that could not be achieved any other way. 

Ultimately, if companies are moving to the cloud but not taking advantage of the new properties and capabilities it offers them, then they’re only performing old tricks, not the dazzling prestige that offers a competitive edge.

Instead, they should be using data stored in the cloud to gain greater understanding of their business, and create data-driven competitive differentiators to drive the company forward. 


Opinions expressed in the article above do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Data Center Knowledge and Informa.

Industry Perspectives is a content channel at Data Center Knowledge highlighting thought leadership in the data center arena. See our guidelines and submission process for information on participating.

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