How the 7 cloud freedoms make Sonian possible

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How is your business taking advantage of the cloud freedoms?

Andy Jassy, senior vice president of Amazon Web Services (AWS), recently revealed the seven cloud freedoms at the 2015 AWS re:Invent conference. Sonian is an example of a “born in the cloud” startup; we embody what Amazon had in mind in the beginning days of AWS circa 2006 when Jeff Bezos and team had the idea to unlock the value of Amazon’s data center power and offer it to third parties like Sonian. We resonated with the original cloud value proposition (let someone else handle the undifferentiated heavy lifting) and made a big bet to go “all public cloud or die trying!” And we’re still alive to share our story.

I like the way Andy captures the positive attributes of the cloud and will highlight the many ways Sonian inherits and amplifies these freedoms to our customers. The seven freedoms are the essence of why Sonian does what it does, and why using the cloud is a perfect match for our workloads and customer use cases.

How the 7 cloud freedoms make Sonian possible

In case you missed Andy’s presentation, the seven cloud freedoms are:

1. Freedom to build what you want
2. Freedom to get real value from your data
3. Freedom to get your data in and out of the cloud easily
4. Freedom from bad database relationships
5. Freedom to migrate
6. Freedom to secure your cake and eat it too
7. Freedom to say “yes”

1 – Freedom to build what you want

Call this the original freedom. The cloud supports an unlimited number of applications, workloads and use cases. The sky is literally the limit when it comes to what can be created with the cloud. Never before has there been the ability for a small team to serve a worldwide audience by leveraging the cloud’s scaling and cost efficiencies. The next world-changing research, B2B or B2C service will be launched from the cloud. The cloud is unlocking exponential innovation and experimentation; I can’t wait to see what comes next.

2 – Freedom to get real value from your data

Sonian’s reason for existing is all about deriving business value from employee-generated content. Whether in the form of full text search of billions of documents and petabytes of information or using sophisticated text analytics to reveal trending topics in employee communications, our mission is to unlock the potential of communications data to help our customers save money or make more money.

Sonian’s is the cloud platform for a business to store, search and analyze its email, files, documents and discussions.

Our software running in the cloud gives us the on-demand horsepower to extract value from data by indexing, searching and analyzing billions of data objects and petabytes of content. We’re at the beginning of our analytics journey, and it’s only possible because of the cloud.

3 – Freedom to get your data in and out of the cloud easily

The cloud offers two primary ways to ingest data: Over the wire using simple and secure APIs or, for larger volumes of information, ship the data to the cloud using a storage device. Sonian takes advantage of both these methods to accommodate our customers’ preferences. In turn, we make it even easier for our customers to stream their email data to the cloud with an innovative “direct-to-cloud object store” feature that guarantees reliable delivery, audit and chain of custody controls. This is an example of how Sonian inherits a core cloud capability (in this case AWS S3,) and adds our special sauce to amplify the innovation to our customers.

Moving data out of the cloud is equally as important as moving data into it. Sonian, like the cloud, doesn’t lock a customer into the service. Customers can export their data in an industry standard format and migrate to another provider. The era of vendor-specific lockin that plagued IT is now over — and cloud thinking is the major reason.

4 – Freedom from bad database relationships

Like the cloud itself, the Sonian architecture has been continuously evolving since the beginning. In the early days, there were few database choices and we made do with what was available. In the past, if we wanted to use a NoSQL or SQL database, we had to provision and manage the software on our own compute and storage instances. Major distractions!

Now, we can “rent” many database types and benefit from pay-as-you-go pricing. Management hassles and extra expenses no longer distract us. It’s also an example of the “let someone else take care of the undifferentiated heavy lifting.” In this case, there is no value in Sonian DevOps managing a MySQL implementation on AWS. It’s a waste of time and denies us the ability to focus on customer features.

Today, there are cloud database services optimized for SQL, NoSQL, analytics and search: all are available as a service and play a major part in Sonian’s increased innovation cadence. All become the foundation for next-generation analytics and insights.

5 – Freedom to migrate

When we started Sonian in 2007, we imagined a future where there would be multiple public clouds. In 2015, we are living this reality. As a cloud ISV, first on AWS, and now on other clouds too, we originally architected for multi cloud and that decision proved prescient.

Today, Sonian operates a single reference architecture across multiple clouds, testament to the freedom to migrate from one cloud to another.

6 – Freedom to secure your cake and eat it too

Information security looms large over cloud deployments. The cloud has come a long way to provide many features to build secure applications. In many ways, the cloud can be more secure than an on-premises data center. When you factor in physical security and application security, a traditional data center has a lot of surface area to protect. A cloud app only needs to protect the public endpoints and there are many proven methods to do so, such as multi-factor authentication, identity and access controls.

From the Sonian perspective, security means two things with respect to customer data in the cloud: resiliency and privacy.

Resiliency means don’t lose anything. When Sonian (and the cloud we sit on) take the customer data, all safeguards are used to preserve the data until the customer wants to delete it.

Privacy means don’t expose data to unauthorized people. This is the second security axis. Since there is no physical relationship between a customer and their data in the cloud, we have to implement logical / virtual controls to ensure only the customer can see their own data.

The cloud offers the audit and lock-down controls; Sonian implements an additional security layer to ensure privacy is enforced at all operating layers (IaaS, Paas and SaaS).

7 – Freedom to say “yes”

IT has the recent reputation of being the department of “no.” It’s a shame because IT used to be the group in a company that would find new technologies to help the customer compete and better differentiate. Business managers, such as a VP of Sales, frustrated with year-long sales force automation implementations, went around IT to buy salesforce.com. The same for HR and Workday, Marketing and Marketo and Finance and NetSuite (these are just a few examples of the over 1,400 enterprise SaaS apps available.)

IT is in a fight for relevancy and needs to reassert its place in the executive board room as a value add, not just a legacy cost center.

With the cloud as an ally, IT can be the department of “yes.” IT can embrace the cloud, for the six freedoms cited above, and say “yes” to new analytics projects. Say “yes” to new collaboration services. Say “yes” to new high-performance databases. Say “yes” to experimenting with new ways to solve the old problems.

There are many waiting to be unearthed; IT, embracing these cloud freedoms, will be central to helping companies reveal them.

The ability to say “yes” is my favorite cloud freedom. What’s yours?


— Greg Arnette is the founder and CTO of Sonian. Follow Greg on Twitter for more information about email, collaboration, big data management, cloud computing, start-ups and more.


About Sonian

Sonian preserves, protects and presents the world’s information.

More than 25,000 customers in 43 countries trust Sonian’s secure proprietary platform to retain, retrieve and surface critical data and protect intellectual property.

Founded in 2007, Sonian is the only pure public cloud information archiving company, providing services that are easy, flexible, actionable and reliable for OEM partners and their end customers. Sonian allows companies to preserve, analyze and access their electronic communications for legal, regulatory and continuity purposes while gaining organizational insights.

Sonian is building the future and solving big data problems for companies, all while managing more than 20 billion objects in the cloud.

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