Just how big is big data these days? According to IBM, we are creating 2.5 quintillion bytes of data every day—so much that 90 percent of the world’s data has been created in the last two years alone.
As companies look to the storage, management, security and analysis of large quantities of information, big data has become a hot topic in business technology. Recently, Todd Taylor, NetStandard’s Vice President of Hosted Technology, attended IBM Edge2013 in Las Vegas to see how IBM planned to address big data—and the big growth in cloud computing—in the coming years.
Here, Todd shares his key takeaways from the IBM Edge2013:
NetStandard: What were the major points of emphasis at IBM Edge2013?
Todd: I was there to understand IBM’s strategic roadmap for distributed computing in the coming year. The two major points focused on cloud and big data. For cloud, I think we are looking at the continual evolution toward virtualized infrastructure for all workloads and the resulting commoditization of infrastructure in the industry—in short, more companies will move their technology to the cloud. As we move forward with big data, I think we will see continued growth, evolution and security of the only “real” IT asset—data.
NetStandard: Why is there so much talk about big data?
Todd: The infrastructure evolution (virtualization, consolidation, cloud) is on auto-pilot and should be complete within the next five to seven years. The resulting “software-defined data center” will commoditize infrastructure (compute/network/storage) to the point where it becomes a utility.
What this means is that tasks that used to take a team of IT professionals a week to accomplish in 2005 are now accessible to everyone with the click of a button. That evolution has its own intrinsic coolness factors, but what it means to big data is nearly unlimited fuel for growth.
Data is the only real IT asset—it’s a simple yet profound fact. We used to think of data primarily as structured (i.e., contained in an organized structure, like a database). Today, data spans every data type and it becomes infinitely more useful as the various types of data are interrelated. Consider the information on your driver’s license, Facebook page, credit card statements, cell phone records, grocery store discount card and court records. Combine that information together, and it paints a pretty good picture of who you are—not just things about you, but who you actually are. The same is true of business data. Given the right information and an understanding of the interrelationships, business data will paint a true picture of business performance that goes beyond profit and loss statements or sales volumes to display real-time performance in a global economy.
NetStandard: What can a business do with big data?
Todd: Business leaders are talking about big data. They are trying to figure out how to access it, consume it, digest it and produce decision-making criteria from it. The enormity of the information being produced is staggering, and current data(base) management tools and techniques are insufficient to deal with it. Furthermore, the relevance of the interrelationships between data types is both amazing and a little frightening from a privacy/security perspective—deriving value from big data will require analytical tools and technologies that will open up many new markets, as will the Herculean task of protecting that data.
NetStandard: How will big data affect small and midsized businesses?
Todd: Most small and midsized business owners may not be immediately interested in big data as a new information and decision-making landscape—at least not for another several years. They should, however, be aware and conversant of its effects and impacts on IT. They should begin to evaluate their own data growth now so that they can consider data retention policies, archival and categorization strategies. This means beginning to manage their data growth now rather than after it has become unmanageable—if you are leading an SMB, start assessing your risks (cost, security, etc.) now, and consider if there is value to your business by investing in analytic technologies.
NetStandard: What are your predictions for the future of big data?
Todd: I have a few predictions:
1. Not having a data management plan, including categorization and retention policies, is not cost effective and dramatically increases corporate liability. The days of choosing the “easy” answer to keep everything forever are waning.
2. New distributed computing technologies, such as the open-source project Hadoop, will become mainstream to provide the mammoth computational workloads required to distill big data.
3. Big data is not a discussion about “storage” or data protection/backup. It’s a conversation about deriving business value from vast amounts of data.
4. Data security and compliance technologies will continue to evolve to support big data and will continue to be a focus in the C-level landscape.
Todd Taylor, Vice President of Hosted Technologies with NetStandard, has more than 20 years of experience in adapting and applying technology services for business environments, including web-based architectures, server virtualization, SQL Server administration, data center design and network engineering.