Businesses on the fence about cloud adoption could stand to learn what those who have migrated to the cloud have already found out – the cloud is more than just a new technology. It's a platform for organizations to seriously address – and improve – their ways of doing business. The cloud is composed of many moving parts that are capable of providing the power and acceleration necessary for businesses to accomplish even the most demanding of projects.

One area that enterprise-class cloud computing can provide significant infrastructural advantages for businesses is in the realm of big data analysis. Big data is one of the most contentious issues in the tech world right now, in no small part because its potential bounty of insights is almost equally matched by the number of expert-directed ways to address it. LinkedIn contributor and McKinsey partner Josh Liebowitz recently wrote about this phenomenon by comparing the search for big data insights to the 1849 California Gold Rush. In both cases, there was money to be made and consumer demand to drive the mining. However, both have also generated a litany of frantic miners who abandon conventional wisdom or critical thinking in the effort to take a piece – any piece – of the action.

"New tools, new technologies, new data sets all offer promises of wealth and value that too often result in companies rushing ahead without thinking through whether the effort is worth it," Liebowitz wrote. "Big Data has been top of many CEO agendas for a while, but when it comes to determining what to do with data, you shouldn't take any steps until you clearly understand what it means for your customer."

Liebowitz's advice gets at the heart of the matter – without a sound strategy and clear objectives, all the unstructured insight in the world is hardly going to lead to concrete development and business growth.

IaaS clouds and SSDs give big data speed and direction
Many businesses have gone a step beyond the 'gold rush' stage of their development, identifying objectives and deciding that big data will contribute to core business applications. To do that, it's worth ruminating on another aspect that big data shares with the Gold Rush – the sieve. The famous tool of independent miners was useful for distilling gold from large quantities of mud and water. In a similar fashion, businesses need to have infrastructure and tools in place that can pan for insights while preventing useful data from getting too adulterated. 

Solid state drives (SSDs) are part of a larger solution provided by IaaS clouds. SSDs are more useful than conventional hard drive disks for big data usage because they are inherently faster, according to PC Magazine. SSDs improve on the capacity of hard drives in terms of processing speed, as well as resisting fragmentation, two important aspects when a massive amount of data is in play. Furthermore, SSDs can be used to launch cloud applications faster, and are more durable, as they have no moving parts and can survive in more hostile environments.