We tend to think about the hybrid cloud as a set of public and private cloud services for managing workloads. Indeed, many of the workloads is the data that is the heart of how applications operate in the cloud. There are many issues that organizations have to understand and deal with when it comes to managing and governing data. The advent of cloud data storage means that organizations are able to store and keep more data than ever. Many businesses are beginning to implement big data and advanced analytics imperatives that bring together data both in the cloud and in the data center.

The objective of this new generation of data analytics is to enable organizations to gain insights from data that eluded them in the past. For example, a retailer might want to understand the impact on weather on their sales over the past decade. The same organization may want to understand how changing demographics of store locations are impacting sales of specific merchandise. Furthermore, the retailer may want to track areas of a store where customers spend the most time.. To get these answers requires unification and integration of data sources using metadata definitions so that data elements can be brought together with the right context to make informed business decisions. It is no longer enough to report on data; organizations have to anticipate customer needs in order to gain a competitive advantage.

The advent of the hybrid cloud means that it is easier than ever to locate data in the best environment that supports analytics. It might be important to have some data close to the source of analytics. In other situations, it will be important to bring data into the same environment. Whatever the approach, it is key that all of the data needs to be protected and well governed. For example, if data is moved, the identity of customers needs to continue to be protected. There are risks that the security and governance that had been in place when the data was located in one environment will be inadvertently changed when it is placed in another application or deployment model.

Understand all of your data in context

While it is easy to store data in different deployment models, it is not as easy to manage that data in context. Do you really know the meaning of data that has its origins in different data sources? You may want to connect transactional data with customer data to understand what your customers and buying. You need to make sure the definitions are consistent so that you are making the right decisions based on where your data is leading you. Meta data management is a core part of helping you to make good business decisions.

Establish a data governance model

The highly distributed model of the hybrid cloud means that data will inevitably be distributed to the model that offers the best flexibility or the best price. However, to be successful there needs to be a consistent data governance model in place to protect the organization. While deployment models and data placement may change as circumstances change, the same governance practices need to be followed.

Protect your important data against intrusion

Keeping your data safe requires that you plan for change. While you may use a variety of security tools, you need to make sure that there is a consistent and predictable way to manage the security of your data no matter what tools are in place. You have to be able to analyze your overall security processes. Criminals often are able to detect areas where your environment is vulnerable to attack. Something as simple as a virtual machine with access to all data and applications can allow unfettered access to your valuable intellectual property. Without a well-orchestrated security plan and tools in place you put your company at risk. If your customers cannot trust that you will protect their data, they will move to other partners that they trust.

Leverage advanced data analytics services

With the wide acceptance and deployment of hybrid cloud services, it is easier and less expensive for organizations to store massive amounts of important data. With cheap cloud data storage, it is easier than ever to store massive amounts of data for analytics. Advanced analytics algorithms allow data scientists to gain insights into data in order to anticipate future customer buying patterns, detect errors before they cause harm. These advanced systems can help companies anticipate threats and stop them before they can impact the company. Being able to anticipate customer requirements before competitors can mean the difference between revenue growth and a competitive disruption.

Establish a plan to manage all of your data

Data is the intellectual property of your company. You need to have a strategy and plan so that it is managed in a way that ensures that data is consistent, well managed and predictable. You need to understand that your data is a core element in your overall hybrid cloud plan. You have to determine how and when you will move your data. You have to plan for when you leave data where it originates to have better protection and governance of that data. You need to address questions like are data elements that operate in unison placed in proximity to each other so that the right service level is maintained? Is the right metadata management in place so that analysis is clear and correct?

One of the outcomes of leveraging the hybrid cloud is that your data is highly distributed across many different platforms. Each data source needs to be managed and governed based on data confidentiality, volume, location, and integration. It is mandatory to have a well thought out strategy for managing all of your highly distributed data.

Conclusion

The hybrid cloud offers your organization incredible flexibility but without management of this data you will put your company’s data assets at risk. There is indeed a dichotomy with the speed and agility of the hybrid cloud. It offers flexibility and cost containment. But at the same time, you need to put a plan in place that enables you to harness its power to protect the company’s security and reputation of your company. A well-designed data roadmap will prepare you for a future where you can anticipate change and be prepared to embrace that disruption.