RESEARCH & RESOURCES

That Was the Year That Was: Major Data Warehousing Events of 2014 (and Predictions for 2015)

All seven predictions the author made last year came true. What's ahead for 2015? Here are seven new predictions for the New Year.

As 2014 draws to a close, it's time to once again review some of the major events of the year and speculate on what might occur in 2015. First, let's review my predictions from last year.

Results of Last Year's Predictions

In December, 2013 I predicted that the following would occur in 2014:

Industry consolidations will continue: My prediction about additional consolidations proved correct. Companies large and small continued to acquire other companies in order to gain complementary technology (in particular cloud and big data) and/or additional market share. See the "Major Data Warehousing Events of 2014" section (below) for details. However, my most likely acquisition target, Informatica, once again continued to remain independent.

Desktop virtualization will experience high growth: As server virtualization (both on-premises and cloud-based) is now well established and widespread, many organizations have moved to embrace desktop virtualization as well. Several market research companies have estimated that it is now a multi-billion dollar market with an expected 25 percent (or more) annual growth rate in the next several years.

BI tools will work with more data types: Almost every business intelligence vendor now emphasizes its ability to work with NoSQL data structures as well as traditional relational databases. Many NoSQL database vendors now highlight their "SQL-like" interfaces. Most BI vendors have expanded their capabilities beyond HDFS to, for example, embrace non-key value NoSQL data structures such as Graph and Document data structures. Major data warehouse database vendors (including Microsoft, Oracle, and Teradata) have products that allow SQL queries to run against both relational and non-relational data structures.

The Internet of things will expand: One of the most hyped topics in 2014 was the Internet of things. It is now accepted wisdom that almost all I/O devices and machines will be linked together via the Internet. As I predicted last year, the Internet of things is rapidly moving towards the "Internet of everything" as devices (including automobiles and home appliances) joined televisions, tablets, smartphones, and sensors (including medical and fitness devices) to become Internet-enabled.

Privacy and data security will become very important: This prediction proved correct as numerous data breaches and privacy violations exposed in 2014 have made privacy and security a primary concern among both IT and business communities (as well as consumers). In almost all data warehouse environments, privacy and security are now critical implementation requirements.

Analytics will expand, even if IT budgets don't: This proved true as illustrated by the sheer number of press releases and announcements of data warehousing vendors emphasizing their analytic capabilities and the market demand for personnel with data scientist skills and experience. Almost all organizations now recognize their need to deploy predictive analytics.

A government database will suffer a major security breach: This prediction also proved true as 2014 saw numerous new malware and virus attacks on business and governmental websites. One of these was a July attack on Healthcare.gov, the Affordable Care Act website that I named as a likely target. Although the hackers successfully uploaded malicious code to a test server, it was reported that, fortunately, they were not able to access personal consumer data. Other 2014 data breaches included hackers accessing unclassified White House, unclassified State Department, and U.S. Postal Service computer networks.

Major Data Warehousing Events of 2014

Continuing industry consolidations: Among the consolidations in 2014 were IBM's acquisitions that included open source NoSQL vendor Cloudant, cloud security service vendor Lighthouse Security Group LLC, and identity and access management vendor CrossIdeas.

Teradata made several big-data-related acquisitions, including consulting and training vendor Think Big Analytics, data lineage and metadata management vendor Revelytix, and SQL- for-Hadoop vendor Hadapt. Tibco acquired open source BI vendor Jaspersoft and a few months later announced that it was going to be acquired by private equity firm Vista Equity Partners. Google purchased Nest Labs, a maker of smart thermostats, to augment its Internet of things capabilities.

IBM slims down: In addition to employee layoffs, IBM spun off its X86 Server business to Lenovo, the company that acquired its IBM's PC business in 2005. In October, IBM also announced that it will pay GlobalFoundries $1.5 billion over 3 years to take over its computer chip business.

Some technology companies believed that the sum of the parts is greater than the whole: Although IPOs of data warehouse vendors such as Tableau were popular last year, this year several established public vendors such as Hewlett-Packard, IBM, and Symantec have announced plans to spin off some of their business units in an effort to enhance shareholder value. EMC 's board of directors is under pressure from a major investment firm to spin off its majority stake in VMware.

Predictive analytics and data scientists rule the big data world: The technical advances (in both hardware and software) that led to the ability to analyze massive amounts of data have served to enhance business intelligence capabilities and functionality -- in particular as related to predictive analytics, a term highly evangelized by SPSS since 2003 (even before it was acquired by IBM) for applied data mining. This has also led to a shortage of individuals who understand statistics, analysis of big data, and the business domain their organizations operate in. Individuals with all these skills are in high demand as companies trying to establish a "big data" strategy actively seek to hire them. Although many individuals may have Hadoop skills, I don't believe that this alone makes someone a data scientist.

President Obama states that broadband should be regulated as a utility: The battle over net neutrality, which would prevent broadband providers from charging content providers a fee for preferential treatment, goes on with President Obama clearly supporting it. His attempt to have broadband regulated by the FCC will lead to further battles between suppliers and their users as well as political battles between Obama and his opponents. The ultimate outcome will likely affect almost all data warehouses that rely heavily on the Internet for data sourcing and results delivery.

IBM commercializes Watson: With a billion-dollar investment and the creation of the Watson Business Group, IBM successfully transitioned and enhanced its Watson technology and its underlying data retrieval, massively parallel processing, natural language processing, and artificial intelligence, from a Jeopardy game show champion novelty to a commercial business unit.

My Predictions for 2015

Industry consolidations will continue: Industry consolidations will continue as larger vendors try to augment their capabilities in order to deliver more pieces of a total data warehousing solution platform, including data integration, database technology, business intelligence, and, in some cases, hardware. I expect vendors that still lacking "big data," social media connections, and cloud solutions will seek out and acquire vendors that do.

User interfaces will rely less on mouse clicks: Although the mouse was a vast improvement over command-line interfaces, arrow keys, or even joysticks, it will continue to be supplanted by other technologies, including touch screens, hand gestures, and voice commands.

Quantum computers will leap closer to reality: Quantum computing, with the ability of a quantum bit (qubit) to exist in multiple states simultaneously (superposition), promises to exponentially increase computational capabilities. However, the technology currently exists only in laboratories and only with just a few qubits linked together. Companies including Hewlett Packard, IBM, and Microsoft, as well as several government agencies, are aggressively experimenting with this technology and I expect that breakthroughs will be made in 2015 that will enable limited commercialization of quantum computers within a few years.

Watson-based cloud applications will rain from the sky: In early 2014, IBM announced it was making a more than one-billion-dollar investment in a newly formed Watson Business Group. This included earmarking $100 million for companies developing Watson cloud applications. This should lead to a multitude of analytic and operational Watson-based applications.

Data warehouse automation will thrive: Data warehouse architecture and implementation has transitioned from an art to a science. When combined with the increasing demand for analytics and user frustration with delays, automation will drive the development of new and/or additional products to automate the data warehouse life cycle, including design, creation, operations, and change management.

Windows 10 will cause an uptick in PC sales: User acceptance of Microsoft's Windows 8 and 8.1 operating systems have been disappointing. The expected release of Windows 10 in the second half of 2015 will likely put a damper on PC sales during the 2014 holiday season. However, once Windows 10 starts to ship with new PCs and other devices, I expect pent-up demand to cause a minor surge in new PC sales.

The battle over net neutrality will not be resolved quickly: The debate over equal Internet delivery speeds for all should be decided on technical, legal, and economic issues. However, President Obama's declaration that the Internet should be regulated as a utility will turn it into a political battle between Democrats and Republicans that likely will not be resolved until after the 2016 elections.

I'll report on the accuracy of these predictions next year, when I make new ones for 2016.

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