Am I a Dinosaur already?

November 3, 2009
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Last month I attended the 2009 CIO Executive Summit in Sydney. There were a number of interesting and challenging presentations, including the closing keynote by Andre Mendes, Global CIO of Special Olympics International.

Andre talked about a wide variety of topics and subjects from Genomics to Immortality, some of it quite challenging and all of it interesting and thought provoking. He also used a personal example of how he went from a young, determined and ambitious 24 year old to a 37 year old ‘dinosaur’ who suddenly started looking at the ideas from the 24 year olds in his team with a ‘that won’t work’ attitude.

I am now of that certain age and find myself being a bit grumpy about Cloud computing, something that naturally got a mention in Andres presentation. I don’t want to be a dinosaur – I genuinely believe the cloud has the potential to be disruptive and game changing and Teradata is already making moves into our cloud offer with Amazon EC2, but I have a couple of issues at the moment with some of the positioning around the cloud.

First security. I am getting increasingly concerned at the soundbite stating that security of data is the number one issue to consider around ..



Last month I attended the 2009 CIO Executive Summit in Sydney. There were a number of interesting and challenging presentations, including the closing keynote by Andre Mendes, Global CIO of Special Olympics International.

Andre talked about a wide variety of topics and subjects from Genomics to Immortality, some of it quite challenging and all of it interesting and thought provoking. He also used a personal example of how he went from a young, determined and ambitious 24 year old to a 37 year old ‘dinosaur’ who suddenly started looking at the ideas from the 24 year olds in his team with a ‘that won’t work’ attitude.

I am now of that certain age and find myself being a bit grumpy about Cloud computing, something that naturally got a mention in Andres presentation. I don’t want to be a dinosaur – I genuinely believe the cloud has the potential to be disruptive and game changing and Teradata is already making moves into our cloud offer with Amazon EC2, but I have a couple of issues at the moment with some of the positioning around the cloud.

First security. I am getting increasingly concerned at the soundbite stating that security of data is the number one issue to consider around Data Warehousing in the cloud. Second, I don’t think this is the ‘number one’ reason for discounting the cloud for Data Warehousing or Analytics. If it’s yours then you probably aren’t really considering a proper Data Warehouse or real Business Analytics.

That security soundbite makes it sound as though the technology is not capable of the required security. I’m happy to stand up and say that Teradata can be used in a cloud environment and the data in the Teradata database can be secured from unauthorised access. Indeed, our customers regularly use their internal clouds and secure data between business units and departments. Certainly we are more than up to the task of protecting any data and can be further encrypted using the capabilities that our partnership with Protegrity enables.

This is not the barrier that prevents organisations from moving into the cloud. The security worry is not a technical one, it’s a legal one. The small print of many cloud providers has to enable them to give up your data if they are mandated to by an authority that could be in a country that you were unaware your data had entered. I think this legal issue is the ‘security concern’. It’s important but not the number one issue.

On the second point I recall the numerous ‘lessons learned on outsourcing’ presentations I have attended in the last 5 years which all indicated that commodity business process is ripe for outsource but that IP and competitive differentiators should be guarded carefully. A Data Warehouse used effectively for actionable and operational business process carries both IP and requires strong service level agreements, neither of which put it in the ‘ripe for outsourcing’ category, nor therefore first in line for movement to the cloud. IP and service level guarantees are, in my opinion more important considerations for Business Analytics in the cloud.

When we talk about the 5 stages of Data Warehousing, we talk about a chasm between stages 1 and 2, and then between 3 and 4. This is a cultural and all too often a technical issue that organisations get into. Whilst organisations can consider some basic reporting as a commodity that could be put into the cloud, they need to be careful that they do not inadvertently trap themselves and make it impossible to move through to value adding Business Analytics and operational intelligence.

In his presentation, Andre Mendes talked about his use of the cloud. In the case of his organisation, there is likely a need for some operational intelligence but the IP conversation is probably less relevant in a not-for-profit than a commercial business. I think the commercial sector will be watching leading organisations such as his for the lessons learned and best practices in this field.

What is your experience in the cloud – what do you think are the main issues to be addressed?

Alec Gardner