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Big Data and the Public Cloud

TDWI just released my newest Checklist Report, Seven Considerations for Navigating Big Data Cloud Services. The report examines what enterprises should think about when evaluating the use of public cloud services to manage their big data. The cloud can play an important role in the big data world since horizontally expandable and optimized infrastructure can support the practical implementation of big data. In fact, there are a number of characteristics that make the cloud a fit for the big data ecosystem. Four of these include:

  • Scalability. Scalability with regard to hardware refers to the ability to go from small to large amounts of processing power with the same architecture. The cloud can scale to large data volumes. Distributed computing, an integral part of the cloud model, works on a “divide and conquer” plan. So if you have huge volumes of data, they can be partitioned across cloud servers.
  • Elasticity. Elasticity refers to the ability to expand or shrink computing resource demand in real time, based on need. This means that you have the potential to access as much of a service when you need it. This can be helpful for big data projects where you might need to expand the amount of computing resources you need to deal with the volume and velocity of the data.
  • Resource pooling. Cloud architectures enable the efficient creation of groups of shared resources that make the cloud economically viable.
  • Self-service. This refers to the ability of a user to run a set of cloud resources via a portal or browser interface. This is different than requesting it from your IT department.

For instance, you might want to use a public cloud to run your real-time predictive model against high volumes of data because you don’t want to use your own physical infrastructure to do so. Additionally, some companies are using the public cloud to explore big data, and then move certain information to the data warehouse. In effect, the cloud extends the data warehouse. There are numerous use cases emerging for big data in the cloud.

TDWI is starting to see an uptick in interest in the public cloud for BI and analytics. For example, in our recent quick survey of users who attended our Las Vegas World Conference, only about 25% of respondents said they would never use the public cloud for BI or analytics. The rest were either currently using the cloud (about 18%) or were actively looking into it or considering it as a possibility. We saw a similar response in a quick survey we did at our Boston conference in the fall of 2013. This will be an active area of research for TDWI this year, so stay tuned!

For more on big data in the cloud, also refer to Big Data for Dummies.

Posted by Fern Halper, Ph.D. on March 3, 2014


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