Friday, October 28, 2011

Free Your Data!

Much has been written in the blogosphere recently of Oracle's Public Cloud announcement at the recent Oracle OpenWorld, and what (according to Larry) it means for data portability and the integration industry in general.

Quoting Larry from his keynote, comparing with  "Our cloud's a little bit different ... our cloud is based on industry standards and supported full interoperability with other clouds. ... you can take any existing Oracle database you have and move it to our cloud.  Just move it across and it runs unchanged.  Oh by the way, you can move it back if you want to."  He went on to say that is the "roach model of cloud services" due to its use of custom/proprietary programming languages like APEX.  "You can check in, but you can't check out."

 This makes for entertaining press, but the subtext here is that all one needs for data integration is some open standard APIs and the ability to run an Oracle database instance anywhere.  In other words, it's all about portability.

Perhaps.  If you have chosen to delegate all of your data to an Oracle-only software stack, then knowing you are "free" to run that database pretty much anywhere you want may feel liberating, freeing you from the dark forces of vendor lockin.  In other words, avoid data lockin by ... wait for it ... consenting to lock in your data to one vendor's database?   Really? And this coming from one of the great industry consolidators of  the last decade, a strategy whose success depends on the maintenance revenue of customers keeping their data right where it is.

There is another way of thinking about this, and it may seem outright revolutionary to those whose business depends on lockin:  Your data belongs to you, and you alone.
Moreover, as volume, variety and velocity of data grows, i.e. Big Data, the opportunities for driving business results from superior integration, management and analysis of that data grow as well.  As mentioned in previous posts on this blog - All it takes is a little bit of imagination.  It takes understanding of *your* business and what its data might tell you about it.  This is a great opportunity, if you choose to defend your freedom to manage your data as your own.  If you consent to handing off responsibility for managing all of your data to one vendor, consent to give up that freedom, you limit that opportunity.

Indeed, this notion of freedom, of not outsourcing it to one vendor or one technology stack, isn't new in our industry.  The past several decades have seen successive waves of innovation initiated by moves from centralized models to distributed, from closed to open.  We've seen it with operating systems, with networks, with application stacks, and now we see it with data.  The winners are those who treat their data as their own, and choose the technologies and methods to extract value from data on their terms.  With whom are *you* working to ensure the highest possible return on *your* data?

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