June 14, 2017

Light-touch managed services

Cloudera recently introduced Cloudera Altus, a Hadoop-in-the-cloud offering with an interesting processing model:

Thus, you avoid a potential security risk (shipping your data to Cloudera’s service). I’ve tentatively named this strategy light-touch managed services, and am interested in exploring how broadly applicable it might or might not be.

For light-touch to be a good approach, there should be (sufficiently) little downside in performance, reliability and so on from having your service not actually control the data. That assumption is trivially satisfied in the case of Cloudera Altus, because it’s not an ordinary kind of app; rather, its whole function is to improve the job-running part of your stack. Most kinds of apps, however, want to operate on your data directly. For those, it is more challenging to meet acceptable SLAs (Service-Level Agreements) on a light-touch basis.

Let’s back up and consider what “light-touch” for data-interacting apps (i.e., almost all apps) would actually mean. The basics are: 

Cases where that doesn’t even make sense include but are not limited to:

On the other hand:

So we can imagine some kind of outside service that spawns analytic jobs to be run on your preferred — perhaps cloudy — Hadoop/Spark cluster. That could be a safe way to get analytics done over data that really, really, really shouldn’t be allowed to leak.

But before we anoint light-touch managed services as the NBT (Next Big Thing/Newest Bright Thought), there’s one more hurdle for it to overcome — why bother at all? What would a light-touch managed service provide that you wouldn’t also get from installing packaged software onto your cluster and running it in the usual way? The simplest answer is “The benefits of SaaS (Software as a Service)”, and so we can rephrase the challenge as “Which benefits of SaaS still apply in the light-touch managed service scenario?”

The vendor perspective might start, with special cases such as Cloudera Altus excepted:

When we flip to the user perspective, however, the idea looks a little better.

Bottom line: Light-touch managed services are well worth thinking about. But they’re not likely to be a big deal soon.

Comments

2 Responses to “Light-touch managed services”

  1. The data security mess | DBMS 2 : DataBase Management System Services on June 14th, 2017 9:21 am

    […] Keeping data out of SaaS vendors’ control altogether. […]

  2. The data security mess – Cloud Data Architect on June 15th, 2017 1:25 am

    […] And as was already acknowledged above, even putting your data under control of a SaaS vendor opens hard-to-plug security […]

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