Time to cut through the many buzzwords floating around the tech space.

It’s difficult to accurately calculate just how much data is created around the world every day but our best estimates put it around 25 exabytes - or 2,500,000,000,000,000,000 bytes of data. This includes 306 billion emails, 200 billion tweets, and approximately 34 billion Instagram photos (though only as a tiny portion).

The vast majority of this 25 exabyte is generated by businesses. Why? Because data holds immense business value. From technical analysis on manufacturing processes and supply chain predictions to customer trends and customer loyalty program data. Every byte has valuable data.

Unfortunately, not all businesses benefit from data equally. Most small businesses aren’t able to leverage their own data because of the IT infrastructure required to not only store but also process large quantities of data. Thankfully, this is changing with Cognera, a fully managed cloud data platform.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at what exactly a cloud data platform is, how it differs from traditional data SaaS platforms, and the value it holds for small-medium businesses.

SMBs and Data Analytics

Businesses don’t deal with just organized data, they deal with heterogeneous data from different sources. The difference is that the latter contains different types of data, is generally semi-structured, and requires specific infrastructure and tools to process it. And of course, it is “more” in sheer size as well.

In the case of small mom-and-pop stores, data can be collected in a very organized manner. However, as things begin to scale, the control over data collection reduces significantly. This data exists not only within business records but also externally on the public internet - from reviews on social media and tagged tweets to official surveys.

A common misconception is that only large corporations deal with data but the truth is, small-medium enterprises have access to billions of gigabytes of data but often aren’t able to extract a competitive advantage out of it.

The first step to utilizing data and driving insights is to transfer data from the source and to a controlled environment where it can be aggregated and processed. This controlled environment is usually a data platform.

What is a Data Platform?

Every data conversation eventually arrives at the topic of data platforms. This is because data platforms are one of the most important aspects of a company’s IT infrastructure.

In essence, a data platform is a repository of data that makes copies of large amounts of data from their original sources and stores it in a secure environment while processing/analysis. Data platforms are so popular because it makes the management of data easy and makes it possible to be agile.

This means that businesses can store data without significant computing power or-and time. All it takes is to point the data lake in the right direction.

Cloud data platform vs On-premise?

A common question businesses have when dealing with data is whether to choose fully managed or in-house platform. It’s important to note that the answer depends on factors like scalability, cost, resources, control, and security. Each option has its use advantages and disadvantages and the “better” option depends on a business’s requirements.

Here are the key strengths and weaknesses of both:

On-premises data warehouses provide: * Complete control over the tech stack * Local speed and performance * Governance and regulatory compliance

Cloud data platform provide: * On-demand scalability * Cost efficiency * Bundled capabilities * Security * System uptime and availability

As a result, a on-premises is more expensive to get started with and also requires greater maintenance.

Why Do Businesses Use a Cloud Data Platform?

There are numerous reasons businesses choose cloud data platforms over in-house - let’s take a closer look at the top three reasons.

1. Versatility

Most small-medium businesses (SMBs) use cloud data platforms because it is simply a more versatile platform. While traditional databases store processed or cleansed data, modern data platforms can store semi-structured, unstructured, and binary data in addition to structured data from relational databases.

This versatility is crucial for SMEs with limited IT resources as it allows them to create a heterogeneous database consisting of multiple data sources and data types. More importantly, the data lake approach promotes the Single Source of Truth (SSOT) model, increasing transparency and reducing the potential for data duplication and errors which may lead to increased costs.

2. Cost

Maintaining a data platform is much more affordable for SMBs as it is a form of low-cost storage. By giving up the rigid structure and thus the speed of a cloud data platforms offer a much greater price-to-performance ratio. That said, cloud data platform storage still delivers very fast query results.

3. Scope

The biggest benefit of cloud data platform is that the lower prices and greater versatility do not come at the cost of limited scope or rigidity. Cloud data platforms still allow businesses to transform semi-structured & unstructured data into a schema as and when needed. Giving businesses the low-cost storage & computing to retain large amounts of information and the flexibility and scalability to analyze that information whenever needed.

In essence, cloud data platforms enable SMBs to leverage more data, from more sources, in less time, and at a reduced cost. The only thing left now is to deploy cloud data platform within the business.

What is a Fully-Managed Cloud Data Platform?

At its core, a data platform is just a tool which means there is more than one way to deploy it within the business. Traditionally, most SMBs prefer building their data platform on-premises. However, data platforms are perfect for cloud deployment. Unfortunately, the cloud, although extremely powerful, complicates the decision-making process.

Businesses need to evaluate the right cloud vendor, understand pricing, ascertain storage and computing requirements, and begin building the necessary data pipelines.

Thankfully, there is a way around this - through a fully managed cloud data platform.

As the name suggests, a fully managed platform takes the burden of configuration and maintenance away from the user and replaces it with a ready-to-use platform. This Service-as-a-service (SaaS) approach is becoming increasingly popular with SMEs as fully-managed platforms virtually eliminate administrative overhead and thus the need for additional IT staff.

A fully-managed cloud data platform not only brings the scalability, resilience, and cost benefits of the cloud to the table but also provides an end-to-end framework for ingesting, processing, and governing data.

What is Cognera?

Cognera is a fully managed cloud data platform with two unique value propositions. First, it is a no-code tool that takes fully managed data platform a step further by completely removing the technical barrier between SMEs and scalable databases. The goal of Cognera is to help businesses find value from their data quickly.

Secondly, Cognera is focused on data analytics. Traditionally, data platform are relatively simple databases for low-cost storage & computing. However, there is a lot of potential for data analytics, and Cognera provides the tools and functionality to do just that. Cognera provides an end-to-end data analytics experience that eliminates the need for more than a dozen data frameworks and technologies.

Benefits of Using Cognera

Cognera builds on the existing strengths of data platforms, extending their advantage and business value. Here are some of the main benefits that SMEs get by using Cognera.

1. Easy to build and maintain

Getting started with any technical endeavor is the most difficult part as it generally requires an expensive upfront investment, both in terms of time and money. In addition to this, making changes to the IT infrastructure can disrupt existing workflows as applications and employees switch to the new database type.

Cognera helps avoid all of these problems by creating a ready-to-take data platform where you can provision your own data platform within minutes. The UI is easy to navigate and designed for non-tech people. Most importantly, Cognera has zero upfront investments - businesses only pay once after the free trial period if they see the value out of their data.

2. Zero maintenance

There is no technical debt with Cognera - getting started quickly does not mean data analysts and IT admins will have more configuring down the line. Cognera remains code-free and maintenance-free throughout its life.

The platform receives its own security and system updates and automatically scales up or down depending on the needs. This significantly reduces administrative overhead, allowing your team to focus on more important things.

3. No need for separate tools

Setting up data pipelines usually requires setting up a wide range of different data analytics tools and connecting them before being able to get any meaningful information from data. On top of this, this setup complicates the job of IT admins as every tool requires monitoring and maintenance.

Cognera, on the other hand, integrates everything needed for data analytics on a single platform. Cognera makes separate software for data ingestion, data processing, and data governance redundant by offering similar capabilities in itself.

4. Security

Cognera is a major step towards data security. It follows the Single Source of Truth (SSOT) model by consolidating data in a single platform ensuring IT admins only need to monitor one location instead of dozens. Data does not need to be shared between different services for analytics as Cognera offers an end-to-end solution.

In addition, Cognera offers:

  • automatic server-side encryption
  • advanced access control to selective data
  • hashed personal data access

Furthermore, by leveraging the cloud, Cognera has different disaster recovery and continuity policies that increase the resilience of a company’s infrastructure.

5. Cost-effective

Cognera uses simple and transparent billing. In addition to this, Cognera has developed a file compression system that can reduce disk usage by up to 20 times. Cognera also automatically optimizes workflows for maximum cost efficiency.

6. Data Team Support

Our team of data experts help build your data stack from 1st day, so you can get value out of your data immediately.

Getting Started with Fully-Managed Cloud Data Platform

In-house data platforms no longer require complex solutions and extensive resources, thanks to Cognera - the fully managed cloud data platform offering SMBs a state-of-the-art data platform and data analytics solution in a no-code package. Test our value before you pay - reach out to get proof-of-concept for free today.