Large enterprises moving data to the cloud inevitably run into issues related to the concept of “data gravity.” IT expert Dave McCrory first coined the term data gravity to refer to the idea that as data accumulates, it builds a gravitational mass that attracts other services and applications to it, making it harder to move. The longer you run applications and services in an environment, the more data mass they accumulate and become “heavier.”
Accumulating vast amounts of data has opened up exciting opportunities. However, you have to consider the quality of the data you keep. Good data allows you to optimize your business – from better segmenting customers to customizing products more effectively. But redundant, obsolete, trivial, or even malicious data can exacerbate existing issues and limit success as you move to the cloud.
As you start to spread data, applications, and infrastructure across a hybrid or multicloud environment, various issues associated with data gravity might start to arise. Migration or modernization of applications becomes challenging and can be susceptible to latency issues. Moving data to, from, and in between clouds can be costly as some CSPs charge egress fees. And top of mind for most is the threat of a ransomware attack. If ransomware were to hit your data center or your cloud provider, it could impact a critically important data warehouse or data lake resulting in financial and reputational consequences.
Remember that your cloud data is your responsibility. If a worst-case scenario happens, you have little recourse against your cloud service provider under your end-user license agreement.
Let’s look at some potential impacts that data gravity can have on an organization:
Data gravity not only makes data harder to move, but it can also make data less available, make it more complex to manage, and – most importantly for the scenarios above – can impact your visibility into mission-critical data. If you can mitigate the effects of data gravity – think of the limitless possibilities of data and analytics to drive business value and competitive advantage.
Countering data gravity
The best way to negate the effects of data gravity and drive your hybrid multicloud strategies forward is to confront the underlying issues head-on. Fortunately, there are several best practices to follow.
Data gravity may be the biggest hurdle enterprises face as they pursue a hybrid- or multicloud strategy, and overcoming it requires data-driven and fact-based decision making. The good news is that once organizations understand holistically how data storage resources and applications interact and depend on each other, they’ll be well on their way to achieving seamless operations and data visibility across physical, virtual, and cloud.
Read more of our series of blogs on taking responsibility for your data.
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