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Is Big Data a Big Problem or Big Opportunity?

The Smartest Companies Are On Top Of It -- Is Yours?

Hadoop and NoSQL are entering more conversations about enterprise IT and Cloud Computing. Mongo is now more than a guy who "like candy" and is "only pawn in game of life." The usual brilliant explosion of innovation is ongoing in this space, which is both a sympton and a driver of the new era of Big Data.

Facebook reports it now handles 30 petabytes of data (or 30 million gigabytes). Other numbers of that magnitude are appearing all over the place, along with estimates of daily data flows that seem to increase by a magnitude every few years.

All this should be good for manufacturers of chips, storage, and networks, even as the general principle of Moore's Law relentlessly drives per-unit prices down. It should be good for software developers as well, as multiple newish skills come to the fore.

The parent company of Cloud Computing Journal has announced it will be co-locating the First International Big Data Expo to Cloud Expo New York June 11-14. The announcement came before the doors even opened at the recent Cloud Expo in Silicon Valley, as the company's far-seeing chairman took in key input from his sponsors and advisors.

Big Data and Cloud Computing share some part of each other's circle in a Boolean diagram - specifically how much is not important, although Captain Obvious tells me that Cloud Computing is more important to Big Data than Big Data is to Cloud Computing.

In The Year -1 BCE...
Enterprise IT is really somewhere around Year Zero or Year One with Cloud Computing, even as all vendors are offering Cloud-something by now. We are thus at Year Minus-2 or thereabouts with the new conception of Big Data.

The coming year promises to be a boon for the private cloud, as companies seek to virtualize and optimize, track usage more effectively, and integrate proliferating mobile devices into the mix.

Meanwhile, simultaneously, those pesky mobile thingys - smartphones and tablets - are helping to create the modern-day Big Data monster. Yet they are not the real culprit per se. Rather, let's point our fingers at online transactions/interactions, point-of-purchase scans, and especially, all the fascistic monitoring software embedded in our browsers and phones.

The key differentiator is that cloud is something you do, but Big Data is something you have. The smartest technology companies such as Google, Amazon, and Facebook understood the implications of mass scaling from the get-go, and have had rare glitches in serving continuously expanding mass data to the masses. Walmart has also kept on top of things as the Big Data generated by about 1 million transactions per hour has evolved.

But what about everybody else? How prepared are most of the Fortune 1500 and the millions of SMBs for the Big Data that's flowing into their IT departments? Add social networking to the mix - the need to address, respond, and cultivate online communities who are blasting their informed and uninformed opinions your way every second - and Big Data emerges as a Big Problem. Or is that Big Opportunity?

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More Stories By Roger Strukhoff

Roger Strukhoff (@IoT2040) is Executive Director of the Tau Institute for Global ICT Research, with offices in Illinois and Manila. He is Conference Chair of @CloudExpo & @ThingsExpo, and Editor of SYS-CON Media's CloudComputing BigData & IoT Journals. He holds a BA from Knox College & conducted MBA studies at CSU-East Bay.

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