By Rhea Galsim, Expedition PR
In June I had the opportunity to attend the International Cloud Computing Expo 2012 in New York. The flagship theme was Big Data & Cloud Computing. The four-day event was packed with speaker sessions and learning tracks, along with floor exhibits where IT and cloud vendors presented their latest services and products to attendees from 48 countries.
This was the first time I attended a cloud expo as a volunteer. Part of my volunteering job was to help with registering the attendees for the speakers’ sessions. I was also given the freedom to attend any speaker sessions and mingle with other IT and cloud professionals. My ultimate goal was to learn about how cloud and big data were changing the tech industry.
It was amazing to see the scene at the Jacob Javitz Convention Center. The trade show floor was buzzing.
The keynote sessions were held in the “big room”—often packed with standing room only to spare. Suits, ties, skirts and sneakers were all present. Cool blue lighting that set the mood for attendees.
The first speaker was John Engates, CTO at Rackspace.com, a firm specializing in enterprise hosting services. He talked about the incredible growth of cloud technology since 2001. Calling to attention the first Windows OS, he illustrated the type of platform computer technology was: basic, simple, and were there really any apps? The Windows OS also couldn’t run on faster speeds because of slow broadband. After 2001, Engates believes technology began to innovate at a faster rate. Cloud and Big Data were on the horizon, but businesses and IT professionals were risk-aversive to it. This has changed since then.
Engates believes cloud technology will change how companies compete with one another. A company with a strong IT infrastructure that harnesses cloud technology has a comparative advantage to other companies. Companies using OpenStack, a cloud software platform where developers create and manage storage through a network of data clusters. OpenStack software is beneficial to cloud technology since it is a free code and an interconnected network of OpenStack developer and Cloud user communities who regularly update the code collaboratively and support one another. The code liberally provides a rich ground of development for building and reshaping public and private cloud issues.
Another key topic in the sessions was IT’s future as a service industry. Rich Taggart, Lead Partner for SHI’s Strategic Consulting, believes that IT is a mechanism for creating innovation and growth. Operating Cloud as a shared service or a ‘community Cloud’, certain platforms like IaaS or ‘Infrastructure as a Service’ allows the development of other services from using multiple sources of data. The scale of virtual data is extraordinary, especially as data is expected to grow quickly with the increasing usage of mobile devices and social media. Taggart believes that virtual data is only 0.5% virtualized and we have only uncovered a cusp of it.
Tony Hamilton, Enterprise Marketing Manager at Intel, shares a similar view. According to him, cloud is uprooting the limits of IT and transforming the entire industry. As mobile applications and social media continue to converge with cloud as a propeller, data is morphing with insight and analytics as being necessities for all types of businesses. Keeping data and storing it according to capacity, efficiency, performance metrics and the management of data, remains an ongoing challenge for IT and cloud users face
My personal favorite was a breakout session with Anjul Bhambri, Vice President of Big Data & Streams at IBM. With a packed room in front of her, Bhambri’s analysis of Big Data was distinct, and her presentation persuaded the functionality and relevancy of the convergence of cloud and data. She outlined the difficult issues that often hampered investment into the cloud, such as how firms can monetize from the cloud, issues of privacy and security, and scalability. Highlighting these challenges, she presented thoroughly the applications of data services to specific clients that she and IBM handled. Her experience with these clients led her to examine what is the best route to capture value with large portions of data? Capturing value through Big Data can only be grasped by first understanding Big Data as part of a “big picture” since data is always expanding. What firms must do is capitalize data as a platform for building applications like SaaS that are secure, deployable and geared towards being a performance driver for a firm. Firms must remember that data should not lose its value while it is stored prior for app creation. Transforming data while it is being stored can lose valuable insight –which ruins the point for gathering data in the first place.
All of the attendees during this session were immersed with information on what makes Big Data and Cloud technologies vulnerable as an investment but also the benefits from capitalizing and using such technologies.
At the end of the day, a panel of Cloud and IT leaders argued humorously on virtualization and what their experiences were of Cloud and Big data as an innovation vehicle. While privacy and security will remain a challenge, I left the event enthusiastic about by the potential data centers have on a company’s organization and data analytics.
The future of Big Data is bright. According to Thomas H. Davenport, frequent writer for Harvard Business Review and distinguished professor of IT and Management in Babson College, Massachusetts, believes Big Data will change how organizations from all industries view their company’s challenges and find solutions. “Every company has big data in its future and every company will eventually be in the data business,” he says.
This was also my key take away from the Cloud Expo: Big Data will be a trigger to new forms of innovation, not limited just to enterprise IT and software firms, but for all industries, like what is seen in internet companies today. Getting into big data then is just the start. Companies need to examine how Big Data will work for their organization, how it can be utilized to create value, beat competitors, optimize business processes, and unearth insight that previously was undiscovered.