Data Center Journal

Volume 32 | June 2014

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24 | THE DATA CENTER JOURNAL Have you seen the latest monitoring solution from ? 3022_uec_dcjournal_two_page_c_Layout 1 5/15/14 10:21 AM Page 1 Several big technology names, however, have placed big bets on big data. Chris Grossman, senior VP or enterprise applications for Rand Secure Data, says, "Not only is big data yielding profitable results for companies, but it has been the single biggest driver of technology over the past five years. If you look at almost every acquisition and merger that has occurred in the technology space, they were all done with big data in mind. What's more, if you look at products from some of the largest companies worldwide—Google's corporate search tools, Microso's Office 365, Amazon's cloud-computing services—they were all put in place because of big data, both on the corporate and personal side. Big data is driving the core profit- ability of some of the largest compa- nies in the world." Big sCope or little niChe? Naysayers will point out that although big data conceivably offers all manner of benefits, the question that only time will answer is whether these benefits can be obtained in a manner that yields a good enough return on the investment. Part of the challenge is dealing with the growth of data that cannot be neatly categorized or searched. "One of the trends we're seeing, and there's no reason to think it will slow down, is a much larger percentage of the data being created is unstructured," said Grossman. "Unstructured data is information that doesn't reside in a traditional row- column database. ese are files such as Word documents, videos, photos, audio files, presentations, and more. Managing and analyzing this infor- mation can be difficult and complex, necessitating tools such as archiving and e-discovery to index, search and extract relevant data." Dealing with this flow of data requires powerful tools, but with cloud computing bringing scalable IT resources to a variety of business sizes and sectors, these tools aren't neces- sarily reserved for the big boys. "We are witnessing an ongoing evolution, where big data started out in com- panies with the engineering talent, compute resources and culture that were required for success," said Chad Meley, VP of unified data architecture marketing for Teradata Corporation. "Note that size has not been a critical factor, as many startups have the tal- ent and culture, coupled with the fact that big data soware and hardware is affordable and can be deployed on cloud-based models that remove capex barriers to entry. e talent gap is shrinking as more people are at- tracted to careers in big data, and most importantly the technology in terms of soware and hardware becomes easier to deploy and use." Meley also thinks that each major industry has its own information value that big data could tap. priVaCy: Big nosiness? Business users and consumers share (wittingly or unwittingly) all manner of information about them- selves, through the photos and updates they post on Facebook or Twitter, the searches they enter on Google, the items they buy on Amazon and so on. Add to that myriad other electronic and non-electronic interactions from credit-card purchases to appearances on surveillance cameras, and even the most privacy-conscious individuals create a flood of data. Grossman notes, "People have shown time and time again that privacy will not limit their creation of electronic data. For exam- ple, when Facebook created additional policies on how they could employ user data, there was a huge uproar and massive protest in the online commu- nity. However, the usage of Facebook continued to increase exponentially." Clearly, the potential for abuse abounds. At a minimum, privacy may be a lost cause—at least for now—ac- cording to HP Autonomy's Chris Sur- dack. "In the war for privacy the first battle is over. We lost. e toothpaste cannot be placed back in the tube, and those organizations that are collect- ing and leveraging consumer data are not going to relinquish this ability any time soon. Similarly, we as consumers are not going to revoke our participa- tion, because who can imagine giving up their smartphone or the Internet and still survive in today's world. And the benefits that we receive from be- nevolent use of these technologies are compelling." Part of the difficulty with maintaining privacy is the fact that even what appears to be abstract and anonymous data can actually be per- sonally identifying information (PII). Dr. Olly Downs, chief data scientist and CTO of Globys, summarizes this predicament: "What big data does is gray the boundary between PII and non-PII. e power of the 'variety' element of big data is the diversity of connections that can be made with it, oen unexpectedly. About seven years ago, researchers at Microso Research published a fascinating paper demonstrating how easy it was given limited-granularity location data and publicly available location data (from a search engine) to identify individuals by name and home address. e net of this is that under big data, more data can have a privacy-impacting effect." Teradata's Chad Meley is optimis- tic regarding the business side, how- ever. "Putting future legislation aside, most companies we talk to aspire to use personal data in such a way as to create a mutual value exchange, where customers implicitly consent to shar- ing their data and digital footprint in return for a better experience. Compa- nies are acutely aware that exploiting customer data can go too far and turn

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