Monday, May 12, 2014

What’s next in Vegas!

Big wheels! Big shows! Big events – it’s all happening in Vegas and it’s only going to get hotter in the coming weeks and with that, it’s getting even harder to ignore Big Data!

Leaving Las Vegas! Yes, after spending a couple of days there – well, on the outskirts actually and far from the strip – there’s only one word that best sums up everything about Las Vegas and that is Big! It’s oversize, loud, and even a little outlandish and yet it continues to draw a crowd no matter the time of year. If only Disney could drop the proverbial dome over the whole thing, it could be air-conditioned 24 x 7 and sold as the adult equivalent of Disney World complete with every imaginable theme park!

Yes, and when it comes to big, there’s nothing bigger than the recently opened Ferris wheel. At 541 feet high it’s about 10 feet taller than the Singapore Flyer that in turn is bigger than the London Eye that measure a puny 443 feet. Together with some lads from the offices of ACI, Margo and I rode the London Eye but as yet, we haven’t hoped aboard the High Roller, as this big new Vegas attraction is called. Given that 2014 HP Discover is only a few weeks away, perhaps it’s an time to put on the activities list – now who could I impress from a seat this far above the crowd.

Big has been on my mind a lot of late. You would have to have awoken from a Rip van Winkle sleep to have missed the noise Big Data is generating of late. There’s rarely a day go by without one headline or the other telling us something extremely important about Bid Data. While doing background work on Big Data for the latest post to, For business managers today, situation awareness is critical … I googled Big Data conferences and I got 100,000,000 + results.

What triggered my recent interest in Big Data was a post to Technobabble a blog site well worth visiting and hosted by an old friend from my time spent at Nixdorf Computers, Kim Brebach. The particular post that caught my eye was the post of April 18, 2014, BigData for Marketing – Separating Hype from Hope Yes, any post whose heading included Big, Hype and Hope just seemed to fit with a trip to Vegas. However, what I found particularly interesting was some of the observations Brebach provided.

For instance, in the opening paragraph Brebach tells his readers that, “from search engines to social networks, banks and credit card companies, they (marketing) know our buying habits and the destinations of our travels on the internet. There is nowhere to hide unless you get off the net altogether.” More significantly, Brebach notes how, “Big Data is really about the ability to launch big queries, which until recently required massive and expensive computing arrays. Big Data typically refers to volumes of 10-100 gigabytes or more. However, it’s not just about massive amounts of data but about a variety of data from different sources.” 

Brebach brings this all down to earth with another simple observation, and one I included in my post to – “The hold-up is that you can’t simply go out and buy a solution to analyze the Big Data you’ve collected.” And when it comes to launching big queries, “To do that, you have to build your own tool set, starting with a platform.” Furthermore, “It seems the big IT vendors are selling big data analytics solutions but, when you dig a bit deeper, they’re telling you to ‘invest in a big data and analytics platform.’”

Even more telling, “you need some IT types to put all this together and make it work, but that’s only the beginning. You also need data architects, statisticians and data scientists to make Big Data Analytics produce intelligence form the mountains of data you’ve collected and/or bought. Specialists like these are thin on the ground, and the few that exist have been snapped up by the military, the intelligence agencies and the big consulting firms.”

Against this background, I decided to check in with a couple of vendors familiar with NonStop. After all, surely with the transactions NonStop processes, in real time, there would be some interest among vendors to tap all that’s taking place on NonStop. Perhaps the platform is not one where we will see big data laying down roots but even on the periphery, there must be something going on. “Realistically, we don’t expect OmniPayments ever to be driven by Big Data, but rather, it will be a contributor to populating Big Data databases,” said OmniPayments, Inc. CEO Yash Kapadia.

“As stated in The Connection magazine last year, we fully expect that OmniPayments will be required to participate and our architecture lends itself to such pursuits. However, not only will OmniPayments be populating Big Data databases but support new products coming to market that aggregate Big Data and transactional data in real time. This is only natural for us to consider as it makes little sense to us that pseudo batch processing will remain an option for many of our customers – they will want to look for relevant information in real time. As it happens and as their customer is interacting with their services.”

In in way, it’s highly encouraging to read of observations like this. If Big Data is already on the radar with vendors like OmniPayments, then there’s every chance that among the middleware vendors more NonStop system specific work is being down. If batch is on its way out as even the most complex of big queries needs to be satisfied in real time, then surely NonStop will play a role? “Our product is WebAction Real-time Big Data Server (RTBD)," said WebAction, Inc. cofounder Sami Akbay. "It runs on Linux and Windows, scales out and up well. As for NonStop, running WebAction RTBD Server on NonStop isn’t part of the plan and yet, we recognize that it’s a key source for real time transaction data and we include it as a source we connect with.”

All the same, “There is clearly a need to capture data that’s an intersection of transactional data with both reference data and historical data, and to do so in real time. Providing meaningful information from the data is important for users as the time to act is often as a client is interacting with a system – when he walks away, it’s an opportunity lost.” This observation is critical to those running NonStop systems. Big Data is applicable in that at the time transactions are initiated, companies want to be able to correlate current transactional data with both reference and historical data to detect even the smallest insight as to what might happen next.

The value of information has such a short timeframe for much that is transacted in real time. After the fact is definitely of interest to strategists but when it comes to making money right now, it’s the ability to derive a sense of what is motivating a buyer that’s important. As the transaction currently being undertaken completes, the customer will move on and getting them to consider something additional, while at a kiosk or terminal, is vital to the health of any company. The likes of Yash at OmniPayments may in time be depending on the presence of technologies from companies like WebAction to better grow the payments business.

Are there other vendors within the NonStop community also looking at Big Data? Some of what I have written here has been referenced in the post to already referenced, so what are we seeing from Integrated Research (IR)? As the leading provider of monitoring products aimed at meeting the needs of IT operations staff, anticipating what is to come surely must be every bit as important as data of a different type is to business folks?

IR has been evolving monitoring to provide greater Business Insight (BI) – collating and aggregating a plethora of events, as they occur in real time, so as operations staff can quickly spot developing trends as well as escalating incidents. Observing a network component about to fail and being able to switch to a more appropriate resource before any customers are even aware of an imminent failure is every bit as important to operations staff as selling additional merchandise is to the business.

According to IR Director Key Account Sales - America's Jay Horton, “Yes, it’s at vendors like IR where you will find the data architects, statisticians and data scientists that can decipher what’s taking place from the myriad of events coming from multiple sources. Not just the solutions, but the frameworks, software stacks and the operating system so many at times that they often mask real problems, and if missed, trigger the crisis companies work hard at avoiding. The Business Insight provided by IR, is as big as the customers want it to be, and is limited only by their perspective on what is important to measure.

In his post, Brebach made it clear that the data architects, statisticians and data scientists have indeed been snapped up by the military, the intelligence agencies and the big consulting firms and this includes vendors well known to the NonStop community. When it comes to excellence, reputations and leadership, this shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone and the fact that products and services applicable to the NonStop marketplace are well advanced, should equip all associated with NonStop to better educate their IT peers.

Next month, we will have 2014 HP Discover in Las Vegas. I am planning on being there and will provide coverage of all that is promoted by HP. So what should to see happen next? It’s clear to me that formerly announced focus areas of Mobility, Security, Big Data and Clouds will continue to gain the lion’s share of attention but as to its inclusion of NonStop, that will prove interesting. But the fact remains, whether HP overtly promotes NonStop as part of any of these initiatives may not be all that important – more than enough vendors within the NonStop community are already on board and are working hard to ensure NonStop plays a role. And perhaps, that’s the biggest story of all as we leave Vegas!

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