What is Data Gravity, and Why Does it Matter?

Michelle Stone July 25, 2019 3 min read


You may have heard the term data gravity floating around. Sure, it sounds a little buzzword-y, but there might be something to it if you’re hearing it on repeat in tech news circles. Data gravity is a term coined by Dave McCrory, a VP of engineering at GE Digital, all the way back in a 2010 blog post. The term is an analogy referring to the relationship between data and applications: they are attracted to one another, as in the Law of Gravity. Datasets are getting larger, which makes them more difficult to move (and, in terms of the analogy, have more “gravity”). This causes the data to remain stationary, while things that are “attracted” to the data (think applications and processing power) move to the homebound data. Basically, because the data has a larger mass, other things fall to it. 


For example, just think about Dropbox, which has been wildly successful and widely used. Initially, it was a file storage service. Now, third parties bend over backward to be compatible with Dropbox and are therefore sucked into its orbit, all because of the data it hosts – data gravity in action.


The Source of the Data Influx


Obviously, there’s a lot of data floating around – more than ever before! The Internet of Things is generating a lot of this data, and that is a sufficiently broad term to encompass almost all of this new data. All of this data has to be stored somewhere, so there, unsurprisingly, are storage systems. Things can get tricky, however, when different data is stored in different clusters. Data is not an easy thing to shift around, so it’s often easiest to just make other processes and systems shift in response to the massive gravity created by all of this data.


Creating Space for Gravity


The first step in creating space for large amounts of gravity is to simply acknowledge that the problem exists. Creating platforms that allow for larger datasets is crucial for innovators and users of said data. Experts predict that the key to this is an all-in-one, built-in approach that offers security, data protection, and cost-effective scalability to meet the needs of the ever-growing (but increasingly immovable) data ecosystem.


And even though data is… digital, it must be physically housed somewhere, so the location of data determines the location of money (for lots of different people). There are physical and digital considerations for the gravity of data, then: creating these spaces costs money, and moving data also costs money, so data storage centers are increasingly being approached as a sort of “forever home”.


Moving Data to The Cloud


McCrory, who coined the term, believes that data gravity is leading to an increased reliance on the cloud. Ultimately, this means that data tools are also becoming cloud-based. Cloud-based data and cloud-based tools offer lower costs, faster startups, and scalability that is easy to manage. When data is coming from more than one source, the cloud provides an easy way to consolidate processes and output.


Overcoming data gravity is a matter of speed, and wouldn’t you know it – the cloud is fast.


Fusion 360: Using Data Gravity for Your Benefit


The cloud offers a one-stop-shop approach to both data gravity and beyond, increasing developer productivity and making the issue of limited mobility nonexistent. Programs like Fusion 360 rely on quick access to tools and resources, enabling engineers to solve challenges collaboratively. Data might be harder to move than ever, but Fusion 360 gives you the flexibility you need to use that data however you need.


Users are utilizing data and designing for data, which means that there is a lot at stake. By using a tool that works quickly within the confines of gravity data, you’re able to complete a variety of tasks with a quicker time to market and design products that do the same.


Give Fusion 360 a try today.


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