Back into the swing of things, …now with a Big Data focus
It has been a busy summer so far, just getting back home from San Diego the other day for last week’s TDWI world conference. As usual it was a great event, but one thing that was quite apparent at the event was the advent of ‘Big Data’. I don’t mean just the addition of Hadoop based companies to the mix (ie Hortonworks and the like) but most every vendor had some sort of Big Data story to tell. Even SAS had their booth just plastered with Big Data messages, and does not offer any specific ‘Big Data’ product.
For full disclosure, I’m partial to this growth of Big Data promotion in the marketplace, as I recently migrated my professional focus at IBM to this specific area. There is a level of excitement that surrounds Big Data that I have not seen since the early days of Linux adoption. Folks are clamoring to get in on this technology and surrounding buzz. From developers through consultants, many of my warehouse discussions had some sort of ‘Big Data’ piece to it.
So what is ‘Big Data’? That is a question that I hear left and right – not just at the conference, but in general day to day business. In my limited layman type approach to the definition, I refer to ‘Big Data’ as the challenge organizations and professionals have to start using ALL of the data available to them to make better decisions. Are you using all of it – even the stuff you normally throw away.
Does Hadoop help this? – sure – it is a key enabler in the movement.
Does streaming technology ?– absolutely – decisions in motion – awesome.
Data Warehousing? – uh of course – what do you do with all of this Hadoop based data once you sort through it and deem it ‘relevant’?
Look the list goes on and on here, but the fact is that in my opinion ‘Big Data’ is a part of a larger information ecosystem. It is the challenge to leverage all of your data available to you – not just the items that are placed in front of you, but also the ‘digital/data exhaust’ (great term that was created that I openly support) that to this point in time you have not had time to analyze.
I would suggest that part of the issue of understanding is that every company that has a dog in this fight has crafted the message to suit their own needs. Many vendors only have a subset of the products that make up an exhaustive Big Data platform and skew the definition to support this.
At the end of the day – regardless of definition, the question that you have to ask yourself is ‘Would you be better off leveraging ALL of the information that is available to you, to make better decisions?’ If you desire to be an analytical competitor, your answer is definitely yes. This is why Big Data is big …and why the hype is warranted.