by November 3, 2011 0 comments










Andy
Mulholland, CTO,
Capgemini

As
long as we define it by traditional internal structured data it’s
really a game of more manipulation and more power to analyze what we
have better, and so more products and services are continually made
available for us to do this. However, the real challenge, indeed the
real value, is that most businesses want to figure out how to find
and use external unstructured data to make real breakthroughs in
seeing the ‘real’ world through using the data of others. The
questions are therefore: What are the external sources from which we
can get at least reasonably trusted data? How can we store the huge
amounts of data? How can we manage access to it all?


September
wasn’t a bad month for making progress on these issues as the Open
Government Partnership
held its first meeting in New York
supported by the United Nations with the following statement as to
its principles:
In
a world marked by so much turmoil, we need open government to build
trust and to revitalize the social compact between states and
citizens. Openness can bring governments and citizens together,
cultivate shared understandings, and help solve our practical
problems. It starts with sharing information.


The
participating governments, and increasingly local government units as
well, are signing up to the ‘open
data
‘ movement, meaning that they are making at least a
reasonable amount of their trusted data available to be used by
business or in the development of new solutions. Open data, the act
of making your data sets available for others to use without
copyright or other hindrance, has allowed some interesting new
services to be introduced. Google
Transit
Feed
is a particularly well known example tying a
metropolitan area transit authority’s data to Google maps and
feeding a new generation of apps for mobility devices such as
NextBus.


At
the root of this is a very serious point about ‘using’, in the
full sense of the word, open data, meaning both being able to find
and use new real-time feeds, as well as make some of your own data
available in this manner to encourage others to make your company
more ‘visible’ in the market. Open data requires an application
programming interface (API) to access the data and though this can be
defined and published to suit the open data set when it is made
available, it’s a really good policy to make sure that when
developing ‘services’ to make sure that the data set is separated
around its own API and that the service then consumes the data via
the API. Think of it as a valuable move towards all app developments,
and for more information on this in the government programs take a
look at the work of Code for
America
.


The
other interesting event was the release by the Storage Networking
Industry Association, SNIA, of the Cloud Data Management Interface,
or CDMI, the standard for providing virtualized storage in the form
of Data as a Service, or DaaS. In their own words from the standards
pages of their website:


CDMI defines the
functional interface that applications will use to create, retrieve,
update and delete data elements from the Cloud. As part of this
interface the client will be able to discover the capabilities of the
cloud storage offering and use this interface to manage containers
and the data that is placed in them. In addition, metadata can be set
on containers and their contained data elements through this
interface. This interface is also used by administrative and
management applications to manage containers, accounts, security
access and monitoring/billing information, even for storage that is
accessible by other protocols. The capabilities of the underlying
storage and data services are exposed so that clients can understand
the offering.


The whole point of
CDMI is to provide a ‘simple’, yet secure and reliable, interface
that will encourage the use of virtualized storage and enable the
access to data held in this manner, which of course is the link back
to open data! CDMI works for most types of data but is optimized for
REST, Restful State Transfer, as one might expect in building the new
generation of apps based on the Web Architecture with HTML5. CDMI
doesn’t just simplify accessibility and use, it also manages a
cohesive set of security measures — indeed these are comprehensive
enough that on their own they would justify adopting CDMI.


So, two big moves
that make apps for mobility clients, defined as new generation
capabilities that can be combined from data sources onto a Web model
and run from clouds, easier to deploy. BUT, as is generally the case
with this new environment, new development methods and standards are
all important!


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