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Big Data Isn’t About the Database, It’s About the Application

An exclusive Q&A with Steve Knodl, Director of Product Management at NextIO

"Big Data analytics will shape the form of nearly every process going forward in time, from the color of the latest fashions, what the candidates say in one town versus another to the chemical composition of the latest super drug," noted Steve Knodl, Director of Product Management at NextIO, in this exclusive Q&A with Cloud Expo Conference Chair Jeremy Geelan. "Whether these are considered "new" products," Knodl continued, "or continuous improvement on previous processes is largely in the eyes of the beholder."

Cloud Computing Journal: Agree or disagree? - "While the IT savings aspect is compelling, the strongest benefit of cloud computing is how it enhances business agility."

Steve Knodl: Disagree. The cost savings is what brings agility to the masses and grows the market. Without both aspects, cloud computing is just expensive outsourcing. Large cash-rich firms could always (grudgingly) spend on IT to get business results or create a new service. Now this opportunity is open to everyone.

Cloud Computing Journal: Which of the recent big acquisitions within the Cloud and/or Big Data space have most grabbed your attention as a sign of things to come?

Knodl: Oracle's purchase of Vitrue, a cloud-based social-media engagement platform, shows that Big Data isn't about the database, it's about the application. There is a lot of hype around the Big Data platforms and providers, but in the end applications will rule the day.

Cloud Computing Journal: In its recent "Sizing the Cloud" report Forrester Research said it expects the global cloud computing market to reach $241BN in 2020 compared to $40.7BN in 2010 - is that kind of rapid growth trajectory being reflected in your own company or in your view is the Forrester number a tad over-optimistic?

Knodl: This is completely realistic, especially when you consider private cloud, which simply shifts the same server sold into a corporate data center into a new category due to the software platform it's running. The net is that there is going to be a lot of growth. Defining the specific segments where that growth occurs will be more difficult.

Cloud Computing Journal: Which do you think is the most important cloud computing standard still to tackle?

Knodl: The need for standards needs to be balanced against the potential lock-in and loss of innovation that can occur if they are set too early. Market consolidation should help to "set" standards that do not become rigid in the wrong places.

Cloud Computing Journal: Big Data has existed since the early days of computing; why, then, do you think there is such an industry buzz around it right now?

Knodl: Never before has it been so easy to both collect and analyze large amounts of data (structured and in particular non-structured) by anyone outside of the very-large web destinations and highly funded organizations. Removing these limits opens the doors to many new applications.

Cloud Computing Journal: Do you think Big Data will only ever be used for analytical purposes, or do you envisage that it will actually enable new products?

Knodl: This is a matter of perspective. Big Data analytics will shape the form of nearly every process going forward in time, from the color of the latest fashions, what the candidates say in one town versus another to the chemical composition of the latest super drug. Whether these are considered "new" products or continuous improvement on previous processes is largely in the eyes of the beholder. People still have to ask "Big Data" what they want to know.

More Stories By Jeremy Geelan

Jeremy Geelan is Chairman & CEO of the 21st Century Internet Group, Inc. and an Executive Academy Member of the International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences. Formerly he was President & COO at Cloud Expo, Inc. and Conference Chair of the worldwide Cloud Expo series. He appears regularly at conferences and trade shows, speaking to technology audiences across six continents. You can follow him on twitter: @jg21.

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