Instead of asking, “What’s the big deal with Big Data?” try asking, “What’s the big dream?”
David Hodgson, March 26, 2015
The best ventures start with a big dream and big dreams come in different sizes. In the world of data analytics this might be cracking a top secret code, growing your business, detecting fraud in real time or successfully making purchasing recommendations based on profiles and patterns. However big your dream appears to other people, it is important to you and the goals you want to achieve, so it is worth planning properly and equipping yourself with the tools you need.
In my last few blog posts, I’ve been talking about the challenge of gaining a competitive edge for your business with all the data that is available to you, structured and unstructured. This is the Big Dream.
The importance of creative experimentation and diversity
The growth and transformation of data analytics in recent years has generally been fueled by the interest from lines-of-business (LOBs) within a company – not by the central IT department. The LOBs have wanted to experiment with tools they thought might give them a competitive edge, an extra business insight. This experimentation is an essential ingredient of success and LOBs must be allowed to empower themselves by choosing the tools and services they need.
This revolution has been enabled by the availability of commodity compute power (on-premise and cloud) and the emergence of open source tools driven mainly by the Apache foundation. The diversity of tools that has emerged is incredible. Hadoop is not one thing, but a stack of technology surrounded by an ecosystem of supporting tools that allow you to build the solution you need. I wrote about this explosion of creativity in an earlier blog post. There are multiple distributions of the stack with proprietary code added for different advantages. And then there are numerous NoSQL databases, Cassandra, MongoDB and probably 30 others, that are suited to different sorts of analytic operations.
This creative experimentation and diversity is still incredibly important. We have not yet seen the end of the tool evolutions and are just beginning to realize the potential of these new technologies and the ways businesses can transform themselves in the application economy.
How can IT help?
IT’s big dream is to be more than a cost center and align to the business to be an essential ingredient in the recipe for success of a company’s goals. In the fast proliferating ecosystem of analytical tools and components, LOBs must have the freedom to experiment with the latest technologies. We are past the point when IT can control and limit software usage for their own convenience. To remain relevant, the IT department must support the new big data playbook and be the experts who learn the latest technology.
But how can IT do this and control costs? Even as a driver of business success, the IT department cannot run amok past the boundaries of their budget. So how can they both encourage creative experimentation and contain costs? How can they find all the skills they would need to use all the different tools?
A Big Data management strategy
CA Big Data Infrastructure Management (BDIM) is now being demonstrated and may be an answer for IT departments as they seek to help LOBs with analytics. CA BDIM provides a normalized management paradigm for different Hadoop distributions and NoSQL databases. It is a tool that will scale with your growing analytics implementations and will allow the LOBs to easily switch tools or platforms.
This single unified view approach will help reduce operational costs as experiments scale to production operations. With automation, productivity is increased and the differences between Hadoop distributions becomes no problem. For IT, the potential is a single management tool to manage all clusters, nodes and jobs. For LOBs, the potential is an IT partner that can take the burden off of production operations while leaving them the freedom to easily change direction.
CA BDIM will be on display at the Gartner Business Intelligence & Analytics Summit, March 30 through April 1, 2015 in booth 525 in Las Vegas. This first release is targeted at early adopters while we aim to deliver new functions and support every 60 days and evolve the product to deliver the maximum value for those that want to use it.
Is the Big Dream just big hype or your next key move?
While some analysts might say the industry is climbing up one side of the “hype cycle”, I don’t believe the one curve fits all phenomena. Real results are being achieved by innovators in this area. While many others still don’t understand the full potential, might be confused and can sound like detractors, this noise does not indicate hype on this occasion. We are in the middle of a paradigm shift where old technologies and practices will be left behind and the new is adopted.
Companies with aspirations of winning in the application economy will take advantage of the new analytics and partner with their IT department to move ahead and succeed. A few weeks ago, in North America at least, we adjusted our clocks to spring-ahead into brighter, longer day times. Check out CA BDIM and try for yourself to see if the product could help your company spring ahead of the pack to realize your Big Dream of success.