What is data gravity?

The effect of data gravity and the cloud

The term “data gravity” refers to the ability of data to attract additional data, applications and services as data sets grow. Data gravity is also related to the intensity of data growth. It highlights the importance of data in our modern economy. No matter the industry, data continues to grow within companies as they move forward and it is becoming increasingly strategic.

Dave McCrory, VP of Growth, Global Head of Insights and Analytics at Digital Realty, coined the term “data gravity” to describe how the attraction between data is directly proportional to the data sets’ “weight” or size, just as the Law of Gravity states regarding physical objects. According to this concept, large data sets tend to attract smaller data sets, as well as applications and services related to said data. So, to sum up, the larger the data set is, the greater its gravitational pull is and the more applications, services and data it is likely to attract.

The phenomenon of data gravity highlights the importance of analyzing how many applications, services and additional data might be attracted to a data set, to avoid issues like latency and portability in the future. By considering data’s potential growth, businesses will be able to design more accurate solutions to efficiently use that data.

How to face the negative effects of data gravity

Latency, portability, costs, security and regulatory compliance are some of the issues data managers will need to face regarding the data gravity effect. On this matter, choosing suitable cloud and connectivity solutions is critical for leveraging its benefits. Furthermore, to avoid the negative impact of data gravity, companies should locate data close to where it is created, processed, exchanged, etc.

Keeping applications close to data is especially important to avoid latency issues when working with large data volumes. The same way companies should design migration plans considering their data’s potential growth (instead of the data set’s current size). Since the larger a data set is, the more resources it requires to be moved. Moreover, security, costs and regulatory compliance should also be carefully considered all along the process. On this matter, private cloud solutions can help both keep applications closer to data and meet strict security and regulatory compliance requirements; as well as cost-efficiently scale resources as a data set grows.

Trends that amplify the data gravity effect

According to a Digital Realty’s report, there are five macrotrends that are amplifying the data gravity effect:

  1. The increase in the number of companies that are starting to manage its corporate data.
  2. The increase in company mergers and acquisitions as a consequence of globalization.
  3. The growth in number and importance of digital interactions.
  4. The criticality of data location to comply with data protection and sovereignty regulations.
  5. The combination of physical and digital security systems to improve cybersecurity.

To sum up, data has a huge potential to help businesses improve, grow and innovate. So, data management, governance and integration are essential to leverage the benefits of the data gravity effect, as well as to mitigate its negative impact.

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