Confluent: data in motion
Setting data in motion. That’s Confluent in a nutshell. For years, companies in the commercial and public sectors have collected data, then stored it, unsure or unable to unlock its true potential. Confluent was formed in Silicon Valley around seven years ago. It’s purpose? To set data in motion and bring insight where and when organisations and missions need it. This transformational process is something Confluent helps a variety of different clients with, not least the US Air Force, a project which sits under the wing of Public Sector CTO Will LaForest.
“I would characterize the US Air Force as early adopters in government,” he says. “It’s been somewhat liberating – Confluent (Enterprise Apache Kafka) happens to be really well aligned with the needs and mission of the Air Force. They have a ton of examples where they’re handling data in motion, so they need to rapidly process and react to data events in real time and they need to do this with globally distributed operations. We have a lot of data nerds who love this sort of domain, focusing on geographic data distribution. We love this sort of challenge.”
LaForest feels there has been a sea change in the government's attitude towards technology. It has started to more aggressively adopt lessons learned from the commercial sector “working to infuse some silicon valley DNA”. It has changed the way companies such as Confluent interact with the government. “They’re embracing this new norm, where they’re working closely with technology companies on the cutting edge. There is a much more collaborative atmosphere than 20 years ago,” he says.
One of the biggest changes for LaForest and his team is cloud. But, according to LaForest, it’s not all silver linings. “Cloud is awesome, but it’s introduced a second-order problem for government: the rapid adoption of managed services.” The rise of Anything-as-a-Service (XaaS) has taken Silicon Valley by storm, but it has the potential to create issues in the complex machinery of government. “We’re investing a lot of money in public sector and we have a product that runs on prem and in Kubernetes and on the edge and in the cloud. So that works for us, but there are many other awesome technology companies that XaaS only, and this makes it hard for the government to use their capabilities since current FedRAMP can only handle a small trickle of the total firehose of cloud companies that want certification. For many in DoD FedRAMP isn't even an option.”
“Getting back to the economies of scale, the experience we have of handling data in motion across complex environments that we’ve done in commercial and government should pay dividends for the various missions. It’s about continuing to build and make the joint efforts stronger.”
The difference between commercial projects and government work comes down, in LaForest’s view, to scale and scope. “Operations span the globe – land, air, sea and space – and the variety of infrastructure and networking available impose some tough challenges on how the data will flow. And then there is the critical nature of security on top of that. Confluent is really well positioned to address this because it’s at the heart of what we do.”
How can technology help cut business costs?
Businesses are always looking for ways to cut costs and help increase profitability. Choosing quick fixes that reduce expenses, such as redundancies, can often decrease quality, and also impede the company’s reputation.
Upgrading technology and how the company use it can improve the business, although it may require an upfront investment, it will help save money in the long run. We take a look at some of the different ways that technology can help improve business costs.
Time is precious when you have a business, every hour counts, and the budget accounts for each hour, whether that be operating costs or paying employees. Implementing efficient processes is a way to decrease delays, and make sure the business runs smoothly.
Technology can help to quicken everyday duties such as:
- Communicating with team members
- Accessing and locating files
- Scheduling meetings and tasks
- Monitoring progress and results
- Managing annual leave and absences
Going paperless is becoming more common, and there are many advantages of paperless environments in the digital age. It eliminates the need for physical storage solutions, so you don’t need to pay for using an off-site storage facility. If you usually keep files in the office, storing them digitally will create more space so that you can grow your team.
With a paperless system filing documents no longer means printing them out, then having to search for them manually later on. Digital storage can be done in seconds, and retrieval involves a quick computer search. The reduction in employee work hours spent on menial tasks is significant.
Moving to the cloud
The 2021 Flexera State of the Cloud Report shows that COVID-19 has had a significant impact on cloud adoption in 2020. The report found that multi-cloud continues to be the dominant strategy, adopted by nearly all surveyed enterprises, 92% of respondents reported having a multi-cloud strategy. 82% are taking a hybrid approach, combining the use of both public and private clouds.
With cloud computing, businesses can store and access data over the internet no matter where they are. It helps employees who are located in different areas to collaborate in a highly convenient and secure manner. Cost saving is one of the biggest Cloud Computing benefits. It helps you to save substantial capital cost as it does not need any physical hardware investments. Also, you do not need trained personnel to maintain the hardware. The buying and managing of equipment is done by the cloud service provider.
Running your business digitally gives you the option to operate remotely, full or part-time. With employees working from home, it enables businesses to downsize or remove the office altogether, to save on rent costs. With minimal staff onsite there will be other savings such as electricity and cleaning. Having remote employees could also reduce the cost of serving refreshments/catering, which some companies offer.
Ensuring your staff members can operate efficiently and safely from home is extremely important. Providing equipment such as laptops, monitors and mobile phones is essential, but to also make sure these devices are secure and have sufficient security measures.
The past year forced businesses to adapt quickly to remote working, and video calls become the norm. Zoom, a popular video call app, generated $2.6 billion revenue in 2020, a 317% increase year-on-year. Instead of paying for travel for client meetings, you can conduct them for free through a video conference tool. You can also access or host webinars through video conferences.