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Beware of the BDaaS double boomerang

As big data increases, the ability to access and control that data becomes a power struggle for IT. Learn why BDaaS impacts inner company relations.

The rise in mobile computing, driven by apps that run on tablets and smartphones, has forced profound changes in the technology and who controls the data. Traditional, absolute control of data by IT is giving way to the marketing organization, yet there is a boomerang effect regarding cloud-based big data analytics that has gone largely ignored, said Nik Rouda, senior analyst for big data and analytics at the Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG), a Milford, Mass., market research firm.

"In the past, databases were managed by IT, but now we often see the marketing and sales departments getting tired of waiting for projects, so they jump over IT and do it themselves," Rouda said. "An increasing number of these projects are kicked off by data scientists; they spin it up as cloud-based DaaS, and get it running quickly and at a low cost."

That's exactly the point, said Sidney Minassian, founder and CEO of Contexti, a DaaS provider, based in Sydney, Australia. "BDaaS or DaaS is a great way to start, where companies can run proofs of concept, pilots without massive upfront investment, and without having to wait six months or more for a solution developed internally."

The boomerang effect takes hold later, after that project becomes a success. "These DaaS projects always reach a transition point where they come back to IT. The marketing people say, 'We built this and it's working great, when can you roll it out companywide?'" ESG's Rouda said. "IT puts its foot down, saying that it can neither support nor guarantee the solution, and asks how much it will cost and whether it is even secure." The result is a second boomerang right back to marketing "when IT says 'We're not Hadoop experts, maybe you are better off going with that third-party DaaS provider,'" he said. And just like that, IT is no longer in control.

While security of cloud-resident data remains a question for some, IT has other concerns when it comes to BDaaS.

"Customers need to consider if they want to be limited by where the data is stored and the services hosted, what open or proprietary solutions they are being locked into, and how transferable their architecture and applications will be if they decide to move the service back in-house or to another provider," Contexti's Minassian said. Brian Hopkins, analyst at Forrester Research in Cambridge, Mass., said a key concern is who is going to be liable if something goes wrong and the service is owned by the marketing department. He asked, "If there's a breach, who pays the price?"

Business tolerances for sensitive data should be a concern, too, according to ESG's Rouda. He points out that in the European Union, where data resides is tightly regulated and that data often cannot cross international borders.

Yet Rouda is bullish on DaaS: "Nearly everyone will end up doing big data in the cloud and analytics. The closer to bare metal you are, the easier it is to customize, but solutions that are less tunable make it much easier to get started."

In the end, it circles back to understanding the components of big data. "Choosing a solution needs to be based on the volume of data and on the velocity of data," said Jim Comfort, general manager of cloud services at IBM. "It's also necessary to understand the real-time nature (variety), accuracy and curation."

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