Finally some substance to the rhetoric

Why Big Data matters in 2012

Chris Mayer

Big Data is big business. We preview the upcoming Big Data Con London 2012 conference, where the hype will become something much more tangible

Yep, Big Data is ubiquitous and while you might be sick of hearing the term, this year its charged up the enterprise agenda, as companies from the smallest startup to the largest multi-conglomerate all search for the latest methods to handle the mass of data they’ve accrued.

At the same time, the term Big Data has for some become a dreaded buzzword. Does anyone actually understand what it’s about? Is every solution that remotely deals with data get chucked into the ever expanding collective? To many people, this Dilbert cartoon sums up the Big Data movement – all rhetoric, no substance.

But this is far from universally true: as Gartner’s Hype Cycle for Big Data 2012 recently put it: “Big data is big money. And big confusion. As with every new term that creates excitement in the market, every vendor is marketing ‘big data solutions’.”

Whatever you think of the rise of data solutions, one thing is clear – you just can’t ignore them.
Yet hardly any of these solutions are new – most of them having received extensive tinkering for years. For example, the data processing framework MapReduce was introduced at Google in 2004.

The centre point of Big Data is data crunching platform Apache Hadoop. Its 1.0 release in December 2011 gave the jolt the area needed to permeate the enterprise world, and paved the way for other emerging frameworks and datastores to generate interest. Within Hadoop, a number of smaller projects such as Hive, Pig and HBase are thriving, expanding the platform’s potential and coming together to form a cohesive unit.

From scalable NoSQL solutions Apache Cassandra and MongoDB to graph database neo4j, a number of technologies are finally seeing the traction they deserve as the vendor arms race towards building big data-focused stacks begins.

With JAX London, just around the corner, we felt the time was right to start our own little Big Data revolution with Big Data Con London 2012. After a successful debut at JAX 2012 in Mainz, we’ve bringing the conference to Ol’ Blighty on the 16th October 2012 to try and make sense of the world of Big Data and help you make the most out of these technologies

With only two tracks to fill as part of JAX London, as track organiser I had a difficult task fitting in as many processing and storage topics as possible, whilst also attempting to provide a general overview of the sector.

Personally, I’m most excited about hearing from Hadoop creator Doug Cutting, now Architect at Cloudera. He’ll provide the day’s keynote Unlocking the Power of Big Data with Hadoop’. You couldn’t really ask for a better guide to unleashing the power of the yellow elephant than from the man behind the hugely successful project.

If that wasn’t a big enough draw for you, how about Tom Wilkie offering some invaluable approaches to real-time analytics applications built in Cassandra? Or Brendan McAdams exploring the relationship between MongoDB and the JVM? Perhaps Lars George’s introductory talk to HBase, followed up some more advanced stuff?

Or hear another side of the story from Basho’s Ian Plosker, who tells us Why Big Data is a Problem, not a Solution, and introduces us to the concept of Critical Data, where only the most important stuff matters.
If that’s whet your appetite somewhat, why not head over to the Big Data Con website to find out more?

As more revolutionary technologies appear, the real acid test for Big Data is entering every enterprise in some shape or form. We’re beginning to see the term enter the mainstream media too, suggesting that hype is much more tangible than previous.

An extra treat for you – if you weren’t sure of how Big Data’s shaping the world, check out this excellent presentation from Rick Smolan on The Human Face of Big Data…

Rick Smolan – The Human Face of Big Data from Steven Dean on Vimeo.

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