Big Data is the New Black

August 22nd, 2014 by - 1,278 views

Many fans would argue that the Netflix original series “House of Cards” is the perfect television show – it has a fabulous production team, compelling leading actor, and stories of drama and betrayal that keep viewers on the edge of their seats. Turns out, this was no happy accident – this and all other Netflix series have been engineered with the use of Big Data and cloud computing to create the ideal television experience. So how does it all work?

How big data creates some of our favorite products today.

How Big Data creates some of our favorite products today.

Netflix’s bright idea in delivering content
As New York Times contributor David Carr pointed out in an article on the development of how we receive entertainment, executives analyzing viewer data to inform future programming choices is nothing new.

“Film and television producers have always used data, holding previews for focus groups and logging the results, but as a technology company that distributes and now produces content, Netflix has mind-boggling access to consumer sentiment in real time,” Carr explained.

What is new, however, is how specific this information can get thanks to data willingly provided by the millions of users who make up the cloud hosting giant Netflix’s clients. Boiled down, here is how the American version of “House of Cards” came to be – analysts recognized that David Fincher, the show’s director, was a popular director on the site and unlike most videos, viewers tended to watch his work from beginning to end. When examining which actors appeared frequently in movies or television that users would stick with for the duration, Kevin Spacey fared well as did the original British version of “House of Cards.” Although there were other successful artists on the table for the project, Netflix narrowed its scope down to these three major contributors to inform its programming decision, to great acclaim.

When it began to produce its own shows as a part of the video platform, Netflix had plenty of user-provided information to draw upon. With more than 30 million video plays logged each day in its cloud infrastructure, the company employs analysts to make note of emerging trends, both to inform future products and help identify “You May Also Enjoy” options for fans of a certain genre. The company also examines which devices are most popular for streaming and which don’t encourage further watching to decide which they will continue to develop.

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Infographic: Keeping Up (and Standing Out) with Managed Services

August 21st, 2014 by - 1,927 views

Even if you haven’t yet used managed services in your industry, you’re sure to run into one of the newer offerings that promise to do everything but butter your toast. The reality is that demand for managed services is steadily increasing across all industry verticals. Take, for example, the cloud-based managed services (telephony, conferencing, messaging, and contact centers) developed to support the emerging Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) market where telephony providers are already jostling for position. Leading telecom providers like Ericsson are routinely inking managed services deals for maintenance of telecommunications infrastructure that includes both fixed and mobile networks, with the goal of “raising the quality and efficiency of [the customer’s] network.” And former infrastructure-as-a-service provider Rackspace has even announced its decision to exit the IaaS marketplace and focus on its “managed cloud” business as a way to rise above the noise—and the competition.

Why all this attention on managed services? Wikipedia defines managed services as “the practice of outsourcing day-to-day management responsibilities and functions as a strategic method for improving operations and cutting expenses.” Sounds good, right? I mean, what company wouldn’t want to improve operations and reduce costs? But if you take a step back to look at the current trends in managed services shown in the infographic below, it’s clear the advantages go beyond just saving money or becoming more efficient.


With so much at stake, how can you find out if managed services could prove to be your secret sauce? The best way to start is by choosing a managed services provider that can capitalize on 4 characteristics of tomorrow’s business landscape:

1. Customization

2. Insight

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Big Data to Assume a Major Role in 2014 Hurricane Season

August 20th, 2014 by - 931 views

Part of what makes Big Data such a unique technological development is its adaptability to a number of different industries, transitioning between fashion analytics and cancer statistics without missing a beat. Although some companies are making use of Big Data to compile more accurate marketing statistics, others are using the cloud computing technology to predict what major weather events are on the horizon in any given area.

How big data can tell you when there's a storm afoot.

How Big Data can tell you when there’s a storm afoot.

Forbes contributor Lisa Wirthman wrote a recent article on how Big Data will assume an important role in this year’s impending hurricane season. In it, she explained how Big Data could be used to help those preparing for such storm thanks to analytics that could save their homes this season.

How does Big Data help predict the weather?
Ever since humans began studying thousands of weather patterns in an effort to better predict what was coming their way, analysis has been at the heart of efficiency when it comes to weather predictions. Technology has done a great deal to help forecasters predict anything from the smallest rainstorm to a monumental tornado, with varying degrees of accuracy.

The growth of Big Data meant that even more data could be collected, although the industry continued to focus mainly on aerial technology to predict developments of interest to readers and viewers. In recent years, as Wirthman explained, “hurricane hunters” have been able to get closer than ever to predicting the specifics of a particular storm.

“Although manned Hurricane Hunters can fly straight into the core of a storm, they typically don’t fly below 5,000 feet,” the source explained. “The Hunters can drop small cylinders into this low-level danger zone to gather data about temperature, humidity and pressure, but they only stay in the air for a few minutes before hitting the sea below.”

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Selecting a Provider and Infrastructure for Running an In-Memory Database

August 19th, 2014 by - 746 views

The need for database speed is always a given. Recently, application response time has been shown to not only provide customers with a better experience, but also directly impact the bottom line. Think about companies running mobile advertising networks that are paid for delivering an advertising impression to users swiping away at their mobile phones to flip to the next screen. If the ad doesn’t load, well, that equals lost revenue. For these customers, response time is mission-critical. A common solution for applications that require fast response times is to run the database in memory, also known as an in-memory database (IMDB). You can easily do so in the cloud; however, selecting the appropriate infrastructure and even the appropriate provider can be tricky. Depending on the provider, for example, there may be hidden charges, less-than-ideal network topologies, and in many cases, a poor selection of virtual machines.


So how do you choose a reliable provider? And do you know what you’re looking for in terms of infrastructure? There are 3 key requirements that will help you get started:

1. Know your database memory requirements

2. Identify your cloud provider requirements

3. Understand your infrastructure requirements
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How Big Data Can Affect the Way We Learn

August 13th, 2014 by - 1,366 views

There’s no doubt that Big Data and cloud computing have the ability to transform the way we look at our jobs, our social habits, and each other. If recent research is any indication, this trend will continue as the technology begins to weave into the way the next generation is educated. Examples of data-based applications and concepts range from students learning how to read to their college graduation are growing more significant every day and promise to exert an even greater influence in the years to come.

How big data stands to change the way the next generation learns about the world.

Big Data stands to change the way the next generation learns about the world.

Emerging uses of the cloud in education
According to a recent piece from Wall Street Journal contributor Lisa Fleisher, Big Data doesn’t just track how quickly a student is learning and his or her deficiency patterns, but can also direct teachers and publishers toward more effective systems. One of the shining examples of this increasingly common practice is the “Teach to One” program underway in New York City public schools that uses digital data to track how well students are learning math concepts.

“The amount of data collected is expected to swell as more schools use apps and tablets that can collect information down to individual keystrokes, or even how long a student holds a mouse pointer above a certain answer,” the source explained.

The program is also testing effective learning environments for students. Of the data collected, each user is tested in the typical classroom, after a one-to-one teaching session, and after taking a lesson online to determine which setting is best for cognitive development. With data now available on millions of students across the country, there is more insight than ever into what works (or doesn’t work) for today’s students.

Another productive use of cloud hosting that has emerged recently is the crowd-funded Reading Rainbow application, which garnered over $5 million on the Kickstarter platform this past spring. Based on the long-running PBS television series starring LeVar Burton, the app provides reading and teaching resources aimed at children just beginning to read at a low price for elementary schools that struggle with program budgets. Although the software is still in development, the Reading Rainbow educational platform will be deployed primarily on tablets for students and on larger displays for teachers in lieu of a chalkboard.

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