Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category
We’ve had some pretty BIG ideas launched in the last couple of decades that you just knew from the beginning could not possibly work in our lifetime. A couple of my favorites are the Star Wars Missile Defense System (it worked okay as a negotiating tool, but as an emerging technology?…not so much) and the Iridium Phone (the phone itself cost thousands of dollars, it had limited range because it depended on launching and locating one of 66 satellites, and you could only use it outdoors).
My favorite Star Wars project, though, is one called Project Stretch. A very long time ago (but don’t worry, this was still in our galaxy) Project Stretch was launched to improve the quality of weather prediction. The goal was to deploy thousands of weather monitoring stations around the country (this was before satellites of course), and then network them together to bring the data back to a single place, crunch all the numbers, and then predict the weather.
There was only one problem.
With the amount of data that needed to be processed, and the power of computers at the time, it was going to take three days of computer time to collect, analyze and then predict the weather for the next day.
It didn’t take long before someone made the fairly obvious suggestion that they could cut two days off the time required to predict the weather – wait 24 hours, walk outside, and look up!
Today’s Star Wars Project: Can I manage Big Data in the Cloud?
I felt an odd sense of déjà vu this week reading a Wired article on Big Data that focused on Google’s “breakthrough” with Dremel … “Google’s Dremel Makes Big Data Look Small. According to the article, the breakthrough that Dremel offers is that it can handle web-sized amounts of data at blazing fast speed, processing petabytes of information in 3 seconds.
Pretty impressive, huh? Even more interestingly, Wired goes on to say, you can use Dremel today — even if you’re not a Google engineer. Google now offers a Dremel web service it calls BigQuery. You can use the platform via an online API, or application programming interface. Basically, all you have to do is upload your data to Google, and it lets you run queries on its internal infrastructure.
And here is where Star Wars enters the equation. Like most readers, I’m sure, I was intrigued, but then I started to think… “Wait a minute. Did I just read what I thought I read?”
Ah, the bloom of Big Data is beginning to come off the rose isn’t it?
Part of the challenge for IT professionals today is to make ‘business sense’ out of Big Data. The interesting part of the conversations we have been involved in is that organizations are now beginning to surface and align Big Data around three very different sets of objectives. CIOs are now faced with an almost ‘Solomon-like’ challenge of how to view the perspective of ownership of Big Data.
Is it cost, risk or value?
Is Big Data just something that costs us a lot of money? Well, yes. We know that by the amount of it we have and how much we pay in storage and retrieval costs. We know that by the many cloud initiatives we have to offload expensive data storage to cheaper sources. In fact that cost is estimated at between $2k-$6k per TB per year.
Is Big Data a risk? Well, yes. There is information being stored that is old, no longer of value and undoubtedly proves a compliance violation, and that exposes a legal risk or maybe even a competitive exposure. The average amount of data that is of no current value is estimated at 69% of the total of each enterprise. You can rest assured that somewhere in that vast unwashed information set is a problem you’d rather not be around when the lawyers or regulators start digging in to your data.
Does Big Data have value hidden it? Well, yes. In fact, most analysts would tell you that your data is now a major ‘asset’ of the business. Robert Zoellnick, President of the World Bank recently stated that their data is more valuable to the bank than the money kept there. Imagine all the nuggets of gold contained in employee, customer and partner communications that define a blueprint for running a better business.
So, how do CIOs resolve these three very different forces? To some, it may seem that the presentation Dilbert’s boss makes is not that far off. Since we don’t really know the difference between what data should be kept or discarded, the natural fall back position is to keep it all! And, therefore make our companies subservient to the Big Data storage vendors who house it all behind gates that only they control.
Paying is one strategy of course (and one which is a continual drain on the balance sheet each time a new request to provide data emerges…from lawyers, compliance or the business). But, there are also now better options available:
To understand, classify, manage and govern your data like an asset.
Leading-edge companies are right sizing their repositories and building corporate management policies that appropriately ‘balance’ cost, risk and value. With the continued pressures of a tough economy, their proactive approaches are having significant bottom-line impacts.
The Bottom Line
Getting out in front of the Big Data tsunami sure beats standing still and being overwhelmed by it. Balance your approaches to maximize the value and you’ll likely see much lower costs, less risk and higher business value.
Sometimes, you just have to stare a big problem in the eye and be thankful for it. Like how in the world am I ever going to eat all of this dinner? But, we do.
So it is with Big Data. As we enter the Thanksgiving holiday, we thought it might be useful to consider the top 10 reasons why we ought to be thankful for Big Data.
1. It doesn’t byte. It’s just data you know.
2. Most people don’t know it exists or what it is. It’s easy to become an expert fast in ths space as there are no reference models or standards anywhere in sight.
3. Lots of cool new storage devices to play with. Love all the announcements from Dell, Oracle, IBM and others about how to house all of this stuff … feels like the DataCenter days all over again!
4. Hadoop, where would we be without a new technology to play with? Every paradigm shift deserves a new open source tool to fuel it.
5. Lawyers settle before I have to go find it. It would be a real problem if we had to actually be defensible in our data collections.
6. It’s a full employment act for IT! There is no way anyone can come in here from India, China or anywhere else and make sense out of this mess.
7. Buried treasure hunts. Who doesn’t love a challenge? Finding the data someone is looking for reminds me of Willy Wonka and the Golden ticket.
8. Visions of Jack Bauer dancing in our heads. Wouldn’t it be cool if we could have all of our field folks armed like Jack was on 24? Data on demand!
9. It’s justification for our budgets for the next five years. It’s really not that hard to do the math. If you want to avoid fines or even jail, pony up.
10. It will be 2x the size of IT by 2020 … and it’s all ours! We’re going to have a digital universe of 35 zetabytes by then. That’s right zetabytes. If ever there was a trend to sink our teeth in to, it’s Big Data.
Can’t wait to tell everyone over dinner Thursday about what I’m doing this year. Sometimes bigger really is better.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
If you put Big Data on your balance sheet would it be an asset or a liability? Or maybe even more to the point, do we have any way of quantifying the value of Big Data?
At our Customer Advisory Board meeting last month one of the big topics of conversation was how to sell the value of managing Big Data to executives of the business. We talked about a whole range of justifications for action that related to cost, risk and just the growing reality that there is not enough storage or people to keep track of it all. Then we dug in to the real issue that was compelling … value.
How do you value Big Data? This week, we read a very similar summary from a group of C-level executives in a computing roundtable on Big Data. They asked the critical question of how to get this on the CEO’s radar and came to the same conclusions we had.
Quantify data as best you can and put it on the balance sheet!