The IT industry has seen technology come and it has seen it go. Sometimes the hype is all about nothing, but sometimes it produces lasting changes to the data environment.
But in virtually every case, actual deployments do not keep pace with the breathless headlines about data revolutions and radically new computing paradigms, and, more often than not, the technology in question is tailored to meet the needs of user requirements, not the other way around.
In this regard, Big Data and the Internet of Things (IoT) are not much different from the legions of data initiatives that have come before. True, they have the potential to affect quite significant changes, but first they have to make their way into existing production environments.
According to a recent survey of Oracle users by Unisphere Research, there is still plenty of caution when it comes to deploying critical functions not just on Big Data and IoT platforms but more established technologies like cloud computing and data mobility as well. In the view of ZDnet’s Joe McKendrick, who helped design the study, these initiatives are not hitting the enterprise like a tidal wave as much as a series of wavelets. This strategy allows organizations to implement new technologies carefully and at targeted applications without running the risk of massive disruption to established business processes.
This is a little tricky with something like Big Data which, by definition, has to be big or it loses its transformative value. As Forbes’ Adrian Bridgwater notes, the very nature of webscale architectures needed to support Big Data runs headlong into established IT architectures, lack of resources, poor understanding of the analytics process and a host of other resistance factors in the enterprise. None of these are expected to be fatal to the movement, of course, but it does mean that IT and line-of-business executives are not about to do anything rash, no matter how many news stories are published about the need to transform right away or risk losing all to an app-driven competitor.
And also true to form, those pushing Big Data and IoT platforms have already identified some of the major concerns among the user base and are working to address them. A key issue is resource consumption, which Splunk is targeting with the new version of its Enterprise 6.4 and Cloud releases. The company says it can drive down the cost of analytics by as much as 80 percent through new customized visualization techniques and an open library that dramatically reduce storage requirements and boost query performance, security and other functions. The new version also features an enhanced predictive analytics engine and tighter integration with Azure and AWS to speed up the analytics process and drive greater value from results.
But probably the biggest speed bump for Big Data and IoT is cultural, rather than technological. As Ajay Khanna, VP of app developer Reltio, points out to Information Management, proper alignment between business managers and IT is the most crucial ingredient to a successful deployment. All too often, either the business side compels IT to create a new platform without understanding what it is or how it works, or IT starts creating systems on its own without understanding the business imperatives behind them. As difficult as it may be for entrenched interests within the enterprise, there is more to be gained through collaboration than the current hive-thinking that has taken root in most organizations.
Truly profound change rarely happens overnight, of course, and when it does it is never pleasant. But while implementation issues remain for Big Data and the IoT, the vision is still clear: greater functionality, improved business processes and, for the very innovative, entirely new business models and revenue streams.
Arthur Cole writes about infrastructure for IT Business Edge. Cole has been covering the high-tech media and computing industries for more than 20 years, having served as editor of TV Technology, Video Technology News, Internet News and Multimedia Weekly. His contributions have appeared in Communications Today and Enterprise Networking Planet and as web content for numerous high-tech clients like TwinStrata and Carpathia. Follow Art on Twitter @acole602.