From apps to data: the next IT frontier

By Pratyush Khare, Vice President, Systems Engineering for Asia-Pacific and Japan at Pure Storage

After grappling with the pandemic for the past two years, there are signs that 2022 may finally be the year we start on an upward path towards recovery. 

However, this is hardly the finish line for embattled CIOs who have fought to bring their organisations through the multitude of IT challenges that arose. 

Thanks to the increased pace of digital transformation and the rise of remote and hybrid work, we are now living irrevocably in a digital-first future. 

According to IDC, 65 percent of GDP in Asia Pacific will be digitalised by 2022, amounting to a total spending of US$1.2 trillion. 

Business and IT leaders must now focus on investments that help them return to growth in the new digital economy. 

Driving the gears of this digital economy is data. 

We’ve heard for quite a while that data is now the most valuable commodity in the world. However, not all organisations understand how they can extract the full value of their data.

Modern enterprises require infrastructure that supports rapid application development and deployment and which lays a foundation for automation, self-service provisioning and ubiquitous data access.

This is where data services come in. Also known as data as-a-service, they make it easy for DevOps teams, data scientists, and line-of-business users to access, explore and mine data for a variety of enterprise applications and uses. 

In a world that is largely driven by apps like Oracle and SAP, the next frontier for all businesses is making data widely available and easy to use for both employees and customers.

Innovators are recognising that the way to win with data is to feed apps with the best data possible, rather than simply having an app at all. 

The magic happens when businesses fuse their company’s proprietary data with external data all over the world, truly driving deep insights that fuel growth. 

Esri, a location intelligence SaaS provider, is an example of a company that has done that. It uses containers and Kubernetes to deliver its services to customers with massive data needs, for integrating mapping information for applications like COVID-19 tracking, fire mapping and disaster management.

The five key data pipelines

Clearly, CIOs must provide data services to support application development, machine learning projects, data exploration and other advanced data needs. 

What does this mean in a practical sense? 

In our view, there are 5 key “as-a-service” pipelines that apps access, which together form a comprehensive service catalogue. 

Users should be able to access each “as-a-service” data pipeline easily so that they can focus on what matters — their applications — rather than expending more time and resources to manually manage their infrastructure.

These five pipelines are:

  • Database as-a-service: provide scalable data repositories that are available across teams and applications
  • Data search as-a-service: for ad hoc queries, to understand usage and improve products and solutions
  • Analytics as-a-service: for business intelligence, using tools such as Tableau or even Excel spreadsheets
  • AI/ML as-a-service:, to provide intelligent, personalised services and understand usage patterns that tap into massive amounts of data using different tools (e.g. TensorFlow)
  • Streaming data and messaging as-a-service: to support apps that depend on real-time data to deliver information to consumers or operate machines (because data is now distributed, i.e. on the edge)

A key to enabling and delivering this comprehensive data services catalogue are open source databases like MySQL, MongoDB, Cassandra, and PostgreSQL. These databases are now seeing widespread adoption, and more CIOs will invest billions of dollars more in the near future.

For the past decade, the world has been inundated with apps. As we stand on the horizon of a new era marked by accelerated digital transformation and the explosion of data, heading into the digital-first future will require us to pay that same level of attention to our data as we did to our apps.