Big data’s analytical power is generally spoken of when talking about its ability to improve efficiency and generally do what it is supposed to do – namely handle ever-increasing volumes of information for a variety of businesses.
However, this Forbes report illustrates the way in which online auction house eBay managed to take the concept of big data and apply it in an unusual way in order to save itself significant sums. At EMC, we think that this type of thinking is the new normal. The unusual becomes the usual.
Tens of millions of customers around the world and an incredibly complex infrastructure of online services mean that eBay is generally required to manage huge volumes of data on a daily basis. However, it also needs a significant IT infrastructure made up of various hardware components housed in disparate locations, all of which pull together towards a common goal. But this also costs the company significant sums of money (and significant means more money than you might imagine).
In the recent past, eBay decided to turn its knowledge of big data analytics on to this IT infrastructure itself and pulled information from every single asset and component, so that it could see which areas were operating efficiently and which servers might not be making best use of their resources and being exploited to the fullest extent.
I was fascinated to read recently that analysts at Gartner have reported on the nature of hype in the IT market. (Yes, my plane journey was that dull.) They looked specifically at cloud computing and the various technologies and services that are related to it.
Researchers have actually developed a life cycle which reflects the current state of particular buzzwords, such as big data and the cloud, and then considers which point on the scale a technology has reached and what the future might hold for it.
Big Data and the Cloud: Should You Believe the Hype?
At the moment, Gartner believes that big data is one of the most heavily publicised and talked-about technologies, both in terms of expectations and what it can actually deliver. So that’s reassuring, since I work in that field.
Interestingly, if big data follows the standard life cycle then this peak will followed by a trough, during which time expectations are adjusted and realities assessed as businesses and users acclimatise to the actual capabilities of a previously over-hyped platform or service. Don’t believe me? Well, think back to the great dreams of Java (write once, deploy everywhere – remember that?)
Studying the climate is one of the most important tasks currently being undertaken by scientists across the world, since it allows them to analyse patterns and form accurate predictions of what the future holds. Regardless of your feelings on climate change, understanding of the climate remains essential.
This is particularly crucial at a time when more and more evidence of human-influenced climate change is being unearthed. But with the mountains of data that is being generated in the search for answers and solutions to climate problems, it is necessary for researchers to turn to big data and cloud computing to give them the support and infrastructure they need to carry out accurate and wide-ranging work. EMC is a world leader in both areas, and its great to know that I’m involved in a (very) small way with furthering this research.
In a recent ZDNet report, a number of scientists outlined the different ways in which big data and the cloud were helping their cause. Those of you who watch the Discovery Channel (and yes, I’m addicted!) will shortly see some of the technology mentioned in this article on that channel. Big data is even helping insomniacs by contributing to some great TV for us to watch at 2am!