An Open Letter To Chief Data Officers: It’s time to reinvent your digital factory.
The world is changing. From manufacturing to research and from health care to entertainment, everything that’s being produced is a digital creation.
The global pandemic has highlighted the need for new business models that require data accessibility on the cloud. This is driving enterprises to accelerate their digital transformations so they can innovate faster. Unfortunately, organizations without a digital data infrastructure to support a modern digital factory are falling behind.
That’s because legacy factories are bound by hardware. They run monolithic architectures on-prem, where storage and compute are bound together and have to scale together. That makes it really hard to experiment and try new ways to build with unstructured file data. The world is changing. From manufacturing to research and from health care to entertainment, everything that’s being produced is a digital creation.
In a modern digital factory, the pace of innovation is rapid and lead times are short. By moving your file data and workloads onto the cloud, you can separate file data from compute, meaning your data remains stable but your compute can change. You are free to experiment rapidly.
For example, in the field of entertainment, you can create content for R&D and test experiences like virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) — or try in-depth sports analytics on demand at live events. You can stand up virtual production crews and soundstages and produce content rapidly with performance and capacity scaled with your workloads on the cloud.
It’s time to reinvent your digital factory and free your people, processes and machines from legacy architectures. No matter what your data-intensive industry, there are consequences for humanity if you don’t. Here are some of the things we’d be missing without modern digital factories today.
- Genomics sequencing to develop new vaccines.
- Streaming video for movies and online gaming.
- Crash test video to design safer autonomous cars.
- Genetic testing in vitro for healthy pregnancies.
- Real-time video surveillance for on-site security.
Dealing With Massive Data
According to Gartner, by 2024, enterprises will triple their unstructured data stored on-premises or in the cloud, driven by digital transformation.
The amount of unstructured data in the form of all kinds of ﬁles and image data is growing unchecked, driven by applications, analytics, AI and machine learning, digital devices (machines) and the IoT.
Unstructured files from the IoT are growing at a massive scale, from the home and the enterprise to the edge, in the form of texts, emails, photos and videos, documents, audio and geospatial data. Every area of our connected world is generating digital data via billions of sensors — data that makes our digital factories smarter and more competitive if we know how to glean its value.
Digitize The Full Data Lifecycle
A modern digital factory innovates across the full data lifecycle by gleaning the value of unstructured data at critical stages. A digital data architecture ensures access to a single file lake that is available to users on hybrid and public clouds. Access to this unstructured data at a massive scale is the raw material of a modern digital factory. It’s connected, agile and transparent, so you can manage your data across the full lifecycle with stable data storage and ephemeral compute.
For example, the digital data architecture of a modern digital factory allows users to ingest unstructured file data directly from applications, including media, dense images, sensor data, video, geological and genomic data. Multiple users can read, write and transform that data across multiple file access protocols, locations and applications. You can share/publish that data for people to use it and collaborate across regions — on different machines. And you can archive it for later use or keep it forever.
Key Considerations For Designing A Modern Digital Factory
Rick Villars, who serves as group vice president of worldwide research at IDC said, “The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted that the ability to rapidly adapt and respond to unplanned/unforeseen business disruptions will be a clearer determiner of success in our increasingly digitalized economy. A large percentage of a future enterprise’s revenue depends upon the responsiveness, scalability, and resiliency of its infrastructure, applications, and data resources.”
There are a few steps you can take to get started today on designing a digital factory that gives you the flexibility to adapt. As a first step, reinventing a modern digital factory should start with a single file data lake available on both hybrid and public clouds. You can take advantage of cloud infrastructure for performance and capacity and innovate and automate with your raw data using cloud-native services like artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML).
To ensure you have maximum flexibility, your digital data architecture should be software-defined and your platform should be cloud-native — to streamline data migration and give you the utmost flexibility on hybrid and public cloud environments. Consider scalability, low latency, simplicity, security and redundancy when designing a data architecture for your modern digital factory.
For example, your modern digital architecture should be able to dynamically scale to serve petabytes of data, billions of files, millions of operations and thousands of users with cost-efficient storage that intelligently adapts to your growing needs. You can also use intelligent caching to significantly lower the cost of performance by enabling high-compute workloads with low latency for users working across several zones and multiple file access protocols.
Another consideration is data visualization, which enables you to data usage easily. You’ll want to manage your data in real time, with operational (ITOps) analytics.
All types of organizations are reinventing their digital factories to take advantage of file data on hybrid and public clouds and create new products faster, serve customers better and compete in the digital economy. In parts two and three of this series, I will dig deeper into what to consider when designing a file data architecture and provide examples of modern digital factories that are innovating with raw file data today.
Ben Gitenstein is a Forbes Councils Member. This Forbes Technology Council article was posted in May.
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