Managing Unstructured Data Across Hybrid Architectures

Unstructured data is being generated at an explosive rate. The scale has shifted from terabytes to petabytes. As a result, IT practitioners have some emerging challenges to consider. In the context of hybrid architectures, these challenges become bolder.

Hybrid cloud architectures combine private and public cloud environments. The private cloud represents on-site data centers. This means that data and workloads are shared between on-premises and public cloud environments. Such an approach offers many benefits that fit these uncertain times we live in, including flexibility and greater control over data capacity. 

However, control over unstructured data is much more complicated compared to structured data.

Unstructured Data

Thanks to the electronic devices around us, we constantly generate data — while commuting, scrolling social media, and exercising, among other examples. However, people are not the major source of data today. Machine-generated data dwarfs the data we produce. This can be credited to technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT). Cars, drones, fridges, and other smart devices generate astonishing volumes of data daily. Consequently, someone has to think about how such data is not only going to be stored, but also how it will be managed.

Considering the distributed nature of a hybrid cloud, moving and storing unstructured data in a secure, cost-effective, and efficient manner requires closer attention. Here’s why:

  •  The aggressive growth of unstructured data. Due to the vast amounts of data to be stored, an organization would need to have a long-term data storage strategy. As an IT decision-maker, you would need a strategy that would keep up with the rate of growth of unstructured data. Failure to anticipate such would run the risk of your enterprise playing catch-up to competitors.
  •  Analytics nightmare. Unstructured data is vast, challenging for data analysts to analyze and get actionable insights from.
  •  Protection and management. Using legacy solutions to protect and manage such data may turn out to be a costly affair.

Also read: What Is Hybrid Cloud Storage? Implementing a Strategy

Approaching Hybrid Cloud Data Management

Enterprises have varying processes and infrastructure to cater to their needs. As such, there are nuances to the approaches to data management in a hybrid cloud. These approaches are dependent on the unique aspects of the system. However, we can break them down to a few aspects to consider when developing a hybrid cloud approach:

  • Assessment of workloads and data. As an IT decision-maker, you would have to define several needs, including where the workloads would run. Would they run fully on the public cloud? Would they be run on-premises? Would it be best to run workloads on both public and private clouds? In what situations would you need to change how and where they are run? Who owns the workloads? What is the business importance of the workloads and what are the levels of access? Similar considerations would need to be performed on data.
  • Security and governance requirements. Since workloads and data exist in multiple places, you have to consider the security of the data. You would need to determine a framework for access management. This would involve identifying data that would require much more stringent security protocols. Authentication procedures would have to be defined. You would also need to establish what kind of encryption to employ, and where to do so.
  • Performance monitoring. Performance monitoring plays a huge part in a competent hybrid cloud approach. It involves a strategy to ensure the greatest standard of performance. It also ensures the availability of the hybrid environment. This level of performance is achieved and maintained through leveraging both on-premises and cloud resources. You may also leverage tools to monitor the performance and availability of the hybrid environment.
  • Service-level agreement strategy. Meeting user expectations is key to business success. You would have to define how to ensure your hybrid cloud meets the expectations of users. This would mean going beyond just offering acceptable performance.

Also read: Developments in Cloud Storage for IoT Data

Concerns Presented by Hybrid Cloud Management

Securing unstructured data 

We have mentioned that with unstructured data, we deal with great volumes of data. Such data on a hybrid cloud also alludes to a greater surface of attack. This is because data is not only on-premises but also on the public cloud. In addition to on-premises security concerns, public cloud security concerns apply to a hybrid cloud architecture. These concerns include data breaches and potential exposure to malware. As such, there are more bases to cover.

Tracking and accessing data

Unstructured data has many formats. These formats are inconsistent. Compared to structured data, unstructured data is much less organized. Having data available across a hybrid environment may make it difficult to track your data. And if keeping track of data becomes a challenge, access rules to said data become a challenge as well.

Redundancy 

Dissecting the great volumes of an organization’s unstructured data is sure to uncover that not all the available data has value or provides useful insights. For example, take an organization’s memos or surveys. They may prove hard to discard because they may contain sensitive information while providing no actual value. Maintaining such data in a hybrid cloud environment proves to be demanding.

Cost, cost, cost 

Normally, the more data you may have moving within a hybrid environment, the higher the costs of cloud computing. Now factor in unstructured data in such a distributed environment. The nature of the data itself may make it difficult to lower the frequency of movement of data. As such, costs may easily get bloated.

Performance

The speed at which data is transferred has implications for performance, especially when dealing with massive volumes and different formats of data. Transfer over the internet often introduces degrees of latency. Furthermore, the compatibility of different cloud setups has a telling impact on performance. Incompatibility may lead to delays and downtime. This is particularly sensitive in the context of honoring service-level agreements.

The Best of Both Worlds

Organizations will continue to use on-premise infrastructure for the foreseeable future. Public cloud infrastructures cannot yet accommodate all workload environments. Organizations will continue to find on-premises infrastructure fitting to handle their security, compliance, and regulatory needs.

However, this does not mean that organizations will ignore the public cloud. We are all transitioning to a post-pandemic world. Public cloud infrastructures have leveraged their resources to offer flexibility and openness to meet the unpredictable data needs of enterprises. Furthermore, enterprises are learning what work to automate and what to assign to humans.

In addition, the public cloud allows organizations to leverage analytics resources. Enterprises need to derive actionable insights from their data to avoid running the risk of falling behind rivals. As such, we can expect continued adoption of hybrid architectures to enjoy the best of both worlds.

Read next: The Vital Role of Data Storage in Digital Transformation

Collins Ayuya
Collins Ayuya is pursuing his Master's in Computer Science and is passionate about technology. He loves sharing his experience in Artificial Intelligence, Telecommunications, IT, and emerging technologies through his writing. He is passionate about startups, innovation, new technology, and developing new products as he is also a startup founder. Collins enjoys doing pencil and graphite art and is also a sportsman, and gamer during his downtime.

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