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Cloud Deployment of Analytics Becoming a Reality for All Enterprises

Originally published April 10, 2018

Ron Powell, independent analyst and industry expert for the BeyeNETWORK and executive producer of The World Transformed FastForward Series, interviews Marc Clark, director of global cloud sales enablement for Teradata. They discuss the challenges and benefits of cloud deployments.

Marc, since we talked last year, the cloud continues to reach new heights. Can you tell us what you are seeing with the cloud and analytics?

Marc Clark: Of course, Ron. It’s very interesting as you alluded to. Everything continues to move to the cloud at a rapid pace. Customers that we talked with last year barely wanted to talk about the cloud. Many of them now have cloud mandates. What a complete and total turnaround, right? Going from saying, “No, don’t talk to us about the cloud. We’re fine with what we’re doing on premises,” to all of a sudden saying, “We’ve got to get to the cloud as fast as we can.” It’s been a great transformation. But there continues to be a lot of misnomers and misunderstanding about the cloud. If you think about a lot of the folks that we’re talking to for analytics, they’re moving their analytics to the cloud for the first time. They’re not cloud experts. 

The cloud has been around for a long time – well over ten years – but these folks haven’t been involved in cloud. They have, in many cases, large volumes of data – tens of, if not hundreds, of terabytes and, in some cases, petabytes – that they’re analyzing. So the cloud really isn’t something that they’ve been thinking about. Now the rest of the organization around them has moved to the cloud for web applications, email, etc. – for non-large enterprise applications. Now the rest of the organization is starting to put pressure on the analytics part of the business and asking, “When are you moving to the cloud?” So these folks have had to come up to speed really fast, so we’re helping a lot of customers understand and navigate what can sometimes be rough waters when it comes to cloud because, as I said, there are a lot of misnomers and misunderstandings out there about what cloud is. They need someone to guide them. That’s my team’s role, and here at Teradata we’ve been able to help a lot of customers think about what the future looks like for them in terms of deploying their analytics in the cloud, on premises, or in a hybrid cloud. The great thing about our strategy is that our customers can deploy our solutions wherever they want.

I agree with you – a lot of companies were very resistant about moving to the cloud. Now many of them are there. Could you share with us some of your customer experiences with the cloud? 

Marc Clark: There are always things to learn. Learning is a good thing. For example, the first time we moved our largest customer and did a floor sweep to the cloud, there were lessons learned. Things like application latency – the fact that applications and even Teradata sometimes act differently in a cloud deployment. It’s the same code and we’re just going to cut, copy and paste, but now we’re going over WANs instead of LANs. One story is of a customer who did that, and we had moved dozens and dozens of customers to the cloud before we moved this one. Everything was going great, and all of a sudden our cloud success director was dealing with a difficult customer situation. Her desk is right next to mine, and I asked her what was wrong. She said, “This customer wants to cancel their cloud agreement with us and pull everything back to on premises.” I said to her, “What are you talking about? We have a project plan and everything is going great.”

What happened was that when they turned on all their applications that they kept on premises and then they were speaking to a cloud over a WAN – which is something they had never done before – their applications hadn’t been tuned to handle that. But now they are very happy. They’ve actually done quite a few customer briefings and use cases for us now.  So they went from being ready to pull the plug on the cloud to being very happy with the cloud. We partnered with them. We worked it out. We tuned their applications for the cloud.

Again, it’s important to remember that there are things that people just don’t know. Quite frankly, we had deployed dozens of customers without this problem, and then we experienced the problem. That’s some of the expertise and the battle scars that we bring to the table as we bring our customers to the cloud. We help them think about things they’ve not even thought about.

Mark, with regard to the future, are we seeing an even greater acceleration to the cloud and what will we see in the future with Teradata?

Marc Clark: Yes, there is definite acceleration to the cloud. Again, this is good but there’s some caution. A lot of what we’re seeing in terms of acceleration is folks wanting to move to the cloud and then also saying they want to move to one specific cloud. What ends up happening is that they’ve decided on the architecture before they’ve determined if that architecture and the tools that are going to give them the best value from their data will fit in that environment. An analogy I like to use is Cinderella’s slipper. Let’s say the public cloud is Cinderella’s slipper. It’s a beautiful thing. I’m not taking anything away from the public cloud. It’s gorgeous – it’s glass, it shimmers and shines! Then the duke brings it in and tries to put it on the stepsister’s foot. And it doesn’t fit. My point is that not everything just fits perfectly into the cloud. If you assume that it will fit perfectly, then you can have a potentially bad experience.

What I’m seeing now is an acceleration of people coming to us and saying, “Your stuff has to work here, at this scale, at this performance rate, at this reliability.” And, honestly, some clouds are still maturing to the point where they’re ready to handle massively parallel analytics. Many of these public clouds, quite frankly, weren’t built for that. But it’s good because we’ve partnered with so many of them, and now we’re going on this journey together. 

We’re seeing a lot of proliferation, a lot of customers wanting to move, at least test/dev and QA. There are a lot of great things that are happening with disaster recovery (DR) in the cloud. There are so many of our customers who as their analytics become more and more business critical have wanted a DR solution. But they’ve gone to the business and asked for a DR solution. The business typically responds that they don’t want to spend money on a DR system or on insurance, if you will, because it costs too much. By mid next year, we’re going to have some cloud options that are going to enable customers to have a real solid DR plan for their analytic solutions that doesn’t cost them an arm and a leg. So we’ll be providing the capability for customers to have the data in the cloud and spin the compute up only when they need it, thus only paying for the Teradata licenses when they use them. This is a great story, and I think in 2018 we’re going to see a huge move for so many customers moving to DR systems in the cloud at a reasonable price. It’s going to really explode and help our customers feel more safe and secure that if the worst happens, wherever their production systems live, they have another alternative to truly recover, keep doing business and get value from their data.

Great, Marc! Thanks for sharing customer cloud stories.  I’m looking forward to seeing what develops with the cloud in 2018.

  • Ron PowellRon Powell
    Ron is an independent analyst, consultant and editorial expert with extensive knowledge and experience in business intelligence, big data, analytics and data warehousing. Currently president of Powell Interactive Media, which specializes in consulting and podcast services, he is also Executive Producer of The World Transformed Fast Forward series. In 2004, Ron founded the BeyeNETWORK, which was acquired by Tech Target in 2010.  Prior to the founding of the BeyeNETWORK, Ron was cofounder, publisher and editorial director of DM Review (now Information Management). He maintains an expert channel and blog on the BeyeNETWORK and may be contacted by email at rpowell@powellinteractivemedia.com. 

    More articles and Ron's blog can be found in his BeyeNETWORK expert channel.

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