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Fred Crehan, Regional Director – Middle East, Confluent, tells us about the importance of Data Streaming in successfully implementing hybrid cloud strategies.
Customer expectations are sky-high in today’s fast-paced, demanding consumer environment. People insist on high levels of personalisation and speedy, smooth, convenient experiences when it comes to everything from entertainment to shopping to finances. And if a company can’t meet those expectations, customers will quickly move on to one which can. 
The organisations which are being left behind are often those who don’t move with the times when it comes to their IT architecture. Conventional data centres have their role to play but alone will not meet today’s evolving customer experience demands – which is why most businesses in the UAE are transitioning to the hybrid cloud model.
In fact, more than a third of UAE businesses are already using private cloud infrastructure models, with 45% of new IT deployments expected to be hybrid cloud over the next five years, according to a new report.
Simply installing hybrid cloud infrastructure isn’t enough by itself. To meet the high levels of targeting and speed customers want, businesses must respond to real-time events at the time they occur. Data needs to be instantly and smoothly integrated between on-premise systems and the cloud. A new approach is needed. Integrating Apache Kafka®, the technology behind data streaming, into your hybrid cloud strategy could hold the key. 
Why hybrid cloud is so important
To provide a personalised, relevant customer experience, which is also slick, smooth and secure, there needs to be a switch up from traditional data centres. The hybrid cloud model enables companies to do this, so it’s little wonder that 47% of UAE businesses are currently investing in hybrid cloud solutions.
People don’t tend to realise that when they’re interacting with an app or website, there are actually a number of complex systems working independently and connecting to each other in the background.
Because of the rise in the number of apps and microservices that need to seamlessly integrate, there’s been a major corresponding growth in data requirements. Today, it’s not possible to self-manage apps within data centres – it isn’t cost-effective and can’t scale quickly enough. To succeed in the new environment, a company needs to deploy a hybrid cloud model, with a mix of cloud hosting and fully managed services. This provides companies with a combination of the value of on-premise systems with the scale and agility of the cloud and fully managed services.
For the industries that still rely on legacy systems, hybrid cloud is vital. New apps may be in the cloud, but they need to be able to interact seamlessly with data in data centres. At some point, it may be possible to move to cloud-first or cloud-only solutions, but it’s likely to be only in the distant future – if at all.
The challenges of data exchange for hybrid cloud
With many companies now choosing hybrid cloud, it’s never been more essential to ensure data can be shared and updated effectively between systems both on- and off-cloud. If it can’t, companies may well find their cloud hybrid approach doesn’t work effectively. For example, when updating customer details on the cloud – do the updates pull through automatically to where the on-premises data is held? If they don’t, it can cause serious problems.
Generally, the approach to data exchange uses the same principles as mainframe architectures – directly linking systems that need to talk to each other. This is reasonably effective if there are just a few systems involved, but when there are many, it becomes chaotic.
A new approach
To effectively solve the issue of data exchange, a new solution is required – and that’s where data streaming with Kafka comes in.It’s a fact that over 70% of the Fortune 500 use Kafka in some shape or form.
With data streaming, instead of directly sending data to every system and machine that might require it, data is added to a system that any machine can access, in real time. Incorporating event streaming through Kafka removes the challenges brought about by data exchange for systems running on large-scale microservices.
Because Kafka is open architecture, it can run wherever it is required – in the data centre, on the edge, or in the cloud. This means it can pull in data from all over the company, regardless of where it sits. Event streaming instantly links all company data, wherever it’s stored, enabling data exchange to smoothly and securely flow in large hybrid cloud solutions.
As customer expectations continue to rise and IT requirements become increasingly complex, businesses must do everything they can to prioritise integrated, effective solutions. And it’s not enough simply to choose and implement a new hybrid cloud model. Hybrid cloud is a smart way to provide the exceptional customer experience required today, but connecting, sharing, and integrating data from many different systems is a challenge that needs to be overcome. Embracing data streaming through Kafka can provide an effective solution that ensures businesses don’t get left behind the competition.
Intelligent CIO Middle East is a technology intelligence platform aimed at the enterprise IT sector to provide targeted updates and research driven data. As part of Lynchpin Media, this digital medium gives unparalleled advice to the regional community.
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