Cloud computing is the outsourcing of hardware, software and networks, allowing us to view and change information through Web browsers. From a data perspective, I find the cloud concept fascinating. It is extremely challenging for most organizations to know where their data is and to obtain an enterprise view. What if the data is in the cloud, though? Are we going to need to expand the enterprise view to a universe view if the data can be anywhere? In other words, is the cloud going to make our data management jobs easier, harder or have no impact, and why?

There are three general types of cloud computing: infrastructure as a service, platform as a service and software as a service. IaaS is the offering of servers, software and storage space as a service. PaaS is the offering of tools for application design, development and testing as a service. SaaS is the offering of applications to end users (through a Web browser) as a service. The consensus from our Design Challenger responses is that our data management jobs are going to be easier in some ways and harder in others at each of these three levels of cloud computing.

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