Big Data is definitely a big topic right now. And I’ve got to say, it’s just part of the continued evolution of IT. Just like servers evolved into virtualized systems, which evolved into shared services, which are now evolving into Cloud, our use of data is changing. Remember when IT was called Information Management Systems? Mainframe data bases evolved into distributed systems, which evolved into Enterprise Data Warehouses (and data marts), which evolved into Business Intelligence, which is now evolving into Big Data.
Okay, maybe in the case of data, evolution isn’t the right word. It’s really an expansion, since up until Big Data it’s all been about structured data; now we are developing capabilities that allow us to better analyze unstructured data.
IT has always strived to turn ones and zeroes into information to improve business decisions, and the business has become more and more dependent on our analysis. They want it faster, better, and more often. But are we really ready for Big Data? I’d say not quite; at least, not everyone is ready.
I think, just like with the adoption of Cloud technologies, that Big Data is great for some companies and some applications – but it is not a silver bullet. It’s definitely an interesting and powerful technology but I think, like with anything new, you have to decide when you want to jump on the bandwagon.
Big Data means big storage, it means new and bigger data collection tools and processes, and it means new applications and software (Hadoop anyone?) Before you start investing all the money required to capture, store and analyze the data, make sure your business can really benefit from the effort. It’s the latest in buzzwords, and it’s in all the trade magazines, which will drive your users to want it. But do they need it? If so, absolutely, invest the money and start ramping up. If they want it, figure out how to manage their excitement. That’s a big part of our jobs in IT. Not saying “no,” but saying “not now.”
Big Data is here, and its potential impact on us and our businesses is huge. Research it, test it, learn about it, and invest in it when there is a real benefit to your business.
Learn how HP helped one company prepare for massive increases in data volume without adding IT staff (369 KB, PDF)
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