If our world is connected like never before—and it is—what’s next? Every smart phone we carry, each comment we post on a social media site, each credit card swipe, every networked sensor, and countless other sources, are building a tsunami of data that’s sweeping the globe.

The technician who comes to fix your furnace is probably packing a smart phone. But today, it’s not just for calls. It’s also a pocket database and a place to store, analyze, document, and report your system’s performance. When the job’s done, the tech may even use it to swipe your credit card.

Now multiply this example by billions. Our connected world is different, offering unprecedented opportunities and challenges for businesses of every size and shape.

But what does it all add up to? That’s a key question we’re working to answer at AT&T Labs. We know there is value in this flood of data. But for our customers to see it, we need to help them sift, sort, and select the information they can use from among the rest.

It’s not just the growing volume of data that poses a challenge. The pace or velocity of data, and the brief instant we may have to effectively respond, gives us little time to act. And we’re not talking about data that’s slotted neatly into spaces on a spreadsheet. We’re talking variety—everything from a multi-hundred-word blog post to the single ping of a sensor.

As enterprises go to work on these issues, many are choosing to store and analyze their data and communicate the value they find using “cloud” solutions, instead of in-house data centers. Going to the cloud allows them to focus on their core goals. They don’t have to worry about obtaining real estate, buying servers, hiring staff, or a thousand other data center management minutia. The right provider will match capacity to need and deliver top quality, including world class business continuity and security.

Yet there is another performance factor that must be considered. The cost to transport data—to move raw data from a data warehouse to a separate location for analysis, processing, and visualization—can be significant. In one instance, a major government agency identified this data transfer expense as the single biggest cost of their cloud solution.

What’s the alternative? Instead of picking one cloud provider for storage and a separate operator for analysis, choose a cloud service provider capable of both providing storage and providing analytics on your information. This way you can capture important synergies. Data transfer becomes a minor issue—or none at all. And your enterprise can surf the global data tsunami like a pro.

What do you expect from your cloud provider? Could your organization benefit from a provider that’s capable of capturing, storing, analyzing, and finding value in your data?