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Walmart, AWS, and the Importance of Data Autonomy

By Andrew Lampitt, VP Product MarketingJune 27, 2017

Imagine going through all financial and personal gymnastics of building your dream home, only to have your company say they’re transferring you across the country.

That’s the situation some of Walmart tech vendors are currently facing: having to rebuild all of their Amazon Web Services (AWS)-based data and apps because Walmart doesn’t want them to be using AWS anymore.

Incredibly enough, or not, Walmart has asked some of its technology vendors to stop using AWS if they want to keep doing business with them, and other large retailers are reportedly doing the same.

Amazon’s recent expansion into new markets is apparently ruffling competitors’ feathers and causing concern. As Walmart spokesperson Dan Toporek told CNBC in an email: “It shouldn’t be a big surprise that there are cases in which we’d prefer our most sensitive data isn’t sitting on a competitor’s platform.”

But AWS is not stopping with competitors. They’re also sending shockwaves through partners and customers. Indeed, no category appears to be safe from Amazon’s gaze, and speculation is running wild about Amazon’s foray into other new markets and what it will mean.

While Amazon Web Services is a great cloud option and one leveraged by DataStax Managed Cloud, your key strategic decision where cloud is concerned is to avoid cloud lock-in altogether so that you can deftly and seamlessly handle situations like these.

First, you need to always be in control of which cloud vendors are strategic to your business at any point in time. Second, you should face the reality that any giant cloud vendor is one acquisition away from suddenly competing with you.  And third, you cannot risk having your data held hostage given that data is what will drive your business in the future.

The Importance of Data Autonomy

You need to protect the crown jewels of your business, which is your data. This comes down to is data autonomy and having an agile data layer that can handle the characteristics of today’s cloud apps, which are:

  • Contextual
  • Always on
  • Real time
  • Distributed
  • Scalable

This means your data infrastructure needs to support all of the above, too, so that you can shift and adapt as your business needs.  

Today you have four main choices for your data stack:

  • AWS
  • Google Cloud Platform
  • Microsoft Azure
  • or your own data center/private cloud

(Platform-as-a-Service, or PaaS, is another overlapping option and consistent with the following points.)

The problem is that once you start using a database of any one of the above cloud providers:

  1. Your data must always reside on that particular public cloud; and
  2. The use of all the services associated with that particular public cloud makes it virtually impossible to extract the database without losing many other associated services.

The answer to this issue lies in your choice of a data management platform.

DataStax: The Data Management Answer to Cloud Vendor Lock-In

DataStax Enterprise (DSE) is the always-on data platform powered by the best distribution of Apache Cassandra™. It includes ease-of-use capabilities in both operational management and developer tooling, plus key additional services like integrated search and analytics.

Importantly, it can also handle mixed workloads (i.e., both operational and analytical workloads) at scale and in real time. And developers can choose from an array of data model strategies that fit their requirements: key-value store, JSON, tabular, and graph.

Most importantly, DSE is designed to leverage cloud infrastructures, but is cloud-agnostic. In other words, you can run it on any public or private cloud, or combination thereof, without having to worry about the underlying infrastructure.

DSE not only allows you to choose your own infrastructure – allowing your most sensitive data to rest completely within your control – it also allows you to configure where and how you want your data to be stored so that critical data can be on your own infrastructure while other data can reside within any of the above-listed cloud providers.

This makes it incredibly advantageous and beneficial in situations when you have to change your cloud provider. Because DataStax Enterprise is independent of the underlying cloud infrastructure, you can easily move it from one infrastructure provider to another without having to rewrite code and security privileges for each app, because all your apps already work against DataStax Enterprise.

Likewise, because DataStax Enterprise includes all of the key associated data management services (search, analytics, graph, security, etc.), there’s no danger of losing these key services when you move from one public cloud to another or even to a private cloud.  

Protect Your Most Valuable Asset: Your Data

If Walmart’s recent actions are instructive of anything, it’s the importance of data autonomy.

Having data autonomy means not having to worry about a competitor having access to your most critical and private data, or holding it hostage. It also means being agile and adaptable when market changes ask you to quickly switch cloud providers.

To avoid cloud lock-in, you need to make sure your data layer is portable across the public and private cloud and also across cloud providers.

With DataStax Enterprise, you have data autonomy and the ability to easily handle situations like these. In fact you don’t even have to worry about moving your home across the country or around the globe – we’ll move it for you.