The Cloud and Content Management: A Snapshot and a Look Ahead

This article was originally published on CMSWire on April 26, 2018

Cloud adoption is on the rise. Forbes reports a recent study by LogicMonitor found 83 percent of enterprise workloads will be in the cloud by 2020. 

Aside from data storage, the most common use of the cloud is for content management and collaboration tied to that content. This affects enterprises of all sizes and a multitude of technology and advisory companies supporting them. So where do we stand today with cloud computing and content management, and what’s coming?

A 2018 Cloud Computing Snapshot 

Cloud data warehouse workloads are fast replacing on-premises ones

Because storage is so inexpensive in the cloud, and because it takes just a matter of minutes to create a new environment, a mass migration to the cloud is underway. With the cloud’s practically limitless capacity, there’s room to more easily classify and organize content. Today, content can be raw, structured and/or unstructured, and the cloud gives enterprises greater flexibility to organize and store that content. 

As one example, an autonomous data warehouse provided by Oracle enables enterprise customers to automatically patch, tune, restore and back up their content. Capabilities like this, in turn, have ramifications on the human resources front. Consider if you’re a large enterprise today, you might have 10 database admins making six figures each to address data storage issues. However, if you migrate to more automated cloud-based systems, you can save some serious dough (though you’ll still need some human attention — more about that below).

Artificial intelligence is already real in the cloud

Already, artificial intelligence (AI) is being used to rip through data on the cloud. Sorting through data used to require intensive human attention, but AI can handle that task effectively now — and at about 5 percent of the cost! This is indeed a case of choosing systems over people, and it’s gaining steam. I believe this trend is here to stay, and given the choice to either deny or embrace this emerging reality, I would advise everyone to opt for the “embrace” option.

A Look Ahead for the Cloud

AI and machine learning gain more traction

As cloud technologies and infrastructures continue to grow and change, we can expect AI and machine learning to help lead the way. There’s already clear evidence that AI can recognize or self-diagnosis varied content types. And as AI applies content analytics, it means that enterprises can identify, categorize and store more content more quickly than before. At a mechanical level, this means that “traditional” database machine logs can move into the cloud.

The cloud will accelerate content management

In a noncloud environment, if your enterprise needs a new content storage and management infrastructure, you generally first need to get budget approval. After that, you need a purchase order, and from there you evaluate vendors and eventually choose one. Then the vendor will often have to build, load and deploy the new infrastructure for you. This process takes a minimum of many weeks and tends to be quite labor-intensive. In the cloud, we’re very realistically talking about accelerating this entire process to 30 minutes! All you need is a credit card. No hardware, no operating system — just a credit card.

The cloud will change our workforces

As noted a bit earlier, consider the evolving roles of database administrators (DBA). In the cloud, there’s less of a need for a high quantity of DBAs, but you still need quality DBAs to plan and deploy cloud-based systems. In other words, the overall functions of DBAs will change as things continue to automate in the cloud. For example, the content patching and tuning tasks that DBAs handled in the past will be replaced by more strategic undertakings, like making decisions about architecture and network security. Bigger picture, your technology-focused workforce won’t be extinct (not by a mile), but people’s roles will evolve more quickly than ever and employees will need to learn new skills.

Roadmaps will become more important than ever 

“Why do we need three data centers?” is a question I’ve heard more than once, and with the cloud today, it’s more relevant than it was before. Depending on the size and nature of a given enterprise, I find myself advising companies to maybe maintain one data center and migrate other assets to the cloud. As noted above, enterprises are getting out of traditional data centers or asking, “What do I need to get out of the data center business?”

Time to Start Building a Cloud Roadmap

That roadmap should lay a foundation for moving content into the cloud, distinguish between critical and noncritical content, determine what role software as a service or infrastructure as a service may play, and set a staged sequence for content migration. Add some cloud-to-company (behind the firewall) options to that, and it’s clear that we’re in a very intriguing time for the cloud. Stay tuned!