The power of hybrid cloud from a data analytics perspective


Published August 2015

"The model that fits a company depends on the company, but by far what I’ve seen is that most large organizations we’ve surveyed are moving toward the federated model."
Rajesh Nagpal
Director of Business Operations and Programs


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How does an organization decide where to put data and how to use it? What’s the best strategy to balance sharing and mobility with the need for privacy and security? Data is such a valuable form of intellectual property that organizations are naturally concerned about moving it. Microsoft has had success using the 80-20 rule and telemetry data as it evaluates what data moves to the cloud and what data stays on site.

Deciding what goes in the cloud

For years, the computing and storage power of the cloud was mostly just fodder for discussion and prognostication. A wonderful idea, but still, ultimately, just an idea. Today it is an indisputable reality. New businesses are starting directly with cloud solutions, and more established businesses are deploying hybrid solutions, with part of their data and assets kept on-premises, and part in the cloud.

In these hybrid environments, organizations must develop a strategy and make smart decisions about how to sort things out. Rajesh Nagpal, Director of Business Operations and Programs at Microsoft, has carefully studied and surveyed the approach that organizations are taking to this question.

"What most enterprises right now are looking at is putting all the stuff that they want to share on the cloud," Nagpal explains. "This helps them to collaborate across geography and across departments." Cloud solutions have the further advantage that users don’t have to be connected to the corporate network, or connect through VPNs or RAS. Needing nothing but an Internet connection and authentication credentials, mobile and remote workers are able to be more productive wherever and whenever they are working.

Yet highly sensitive information may still reside in on-site data centers, including high-value customer data, revenue data, or intellectual property that is considered "top secret." The healthcare industry provides an easy illustration of the different types of data. X-ray images, for example, without any personally identifying information, could be stored in the cloud. But information about the patient would be kept on site.

The 80-20 rule applied to data storage

While most established companies do have a mix of data, the trend is to move about 80 percent of it to the cloud, with only 20 percent retained on site. Microsoft breaks it down as follows:

  • Data that the organization wants to share publicly.

  • Data that the organization wants to share across the enterprise.

  • Highly sensitive data.

The first two categories make up 80 percent of data for most companies. Data in the second category is protected by authentication restrictions and an understanding of the privacy settings offered in the cloud platform.

The third category, highly sensitive data, comprises the remaining 20 percent of data for most companies. Examples include credit card information, social security numbers, and payroll information.

Microsoft sees the hybrid cloud as an intermediate step toward a more completely cloud-based data storage solution for companies in the future. Not only are new security layers being added in Microsoft Azure, but companies are increasingly designing for security as they become more familiar with cloud platforms. They are taking a more deliberate approach to distinguishing the sensitivity of data (high, medium, and low), and implementing appropriate authorization accordingly.

Using telemetry to optimize cloud business intelligence

Much like a utility such as electricity or water service, the cloud is a pay-as-you-go service. Cloud platforms offer instrumentation data, so organizations can learn who is using data, who is querying for certain kinds of data, and who is accessing reports, among other things.

Microsoft recommends using this telemetry to understand what users in an organization are looking for and what data is useful to them. Instead of reacting to their requests, organizations can proactively make data available to them in the form they require. This means that users spend less time gathering and joining data together, and can focus instead on their core work (for example, marketing, sales, or finance).


The reality for organizations today is that moving data to the cloud isn’t a question of "if," it’s a question of "when." Data is such a valuable form of intellectual property that organizations are naturally concerned about moving it. Microsoft has had success using the 80-20 rule and telemetry as it evaluates the type of data it moves to the cloud. Over time, Microsoft will continue to move an increasing percentage of its data to the cloud to facilitate data-driven decisions in the future.


Video: How to Unleash the Power of your Data in a Hybrid Cloud

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