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Developments Show Big Data is Here to Stay

Thursday, June 12th, 2014 by

Big Data detractors, listen up: several recent developments indicate that use of cloud hosting and Big Data continues to increase, with tangible results. In spite of any setback, more and more businesses are adopting cloud technology and the security options required to keep their information safe, and those opting to use cloud storage for high volumes of data are beginning to see results. Not only is the system becoming more popular, it’s becoming smarter, too.

Big data detractors, step down - a number of recent developments indicate that use of cloud hosting and big data continues to increase, with tangible results.

Big Data detractors, listen up: several recent developments indicate that use of cloud hosting and Big Data continues to increase, with tangible results.

Big Names Endorse Big Data
InformationWeek writer Doug Henschen published a recent criticism of media coverage on Big Data, implying that a lot of reports are intended to scare off potential users in the interest of keeping older, less-efficient and less-secure systems in place.

“Media coverage of Big Data tends to fall into two broad categories: stories that are abstract, philosophical, or speculative about what Big Data is all about and how it will or won’t change the world; and more-concrete analyses about specific new capabilities or actual projects delivering results,” he wrote before providing readers with a long list of facts about why the detractors had the wrong idea.

Unsurprisingly, the use of cloud hosting providers has created positive changes in a number of major fields, many of which Henschen cites. The Weather Company, a large organization responsible for the all-popular Weather Channel and all its applications, is in the process of moving its massive information database to a cloud server not only to reduce the cost and risk of in-house data management, but also to increase the efficiency of its service. The cloud-based service will let The Weather Company take in more than 20 terabytes of data to analyze weather patterns every day and provide optimal speed for delivering the information to consumers.

A similar success occurred in the health sector when startup company Hadoop was able to harness cloud storage to analyze large volumes of cancer research to expedite the development of a potentially effective vaccine. When dealing with the issue of large amounts of data that are contained in massive files, the use of Big Data is a win-win for an organization’s bottom line as well as the for consumers that stand to benefit from the products.

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Supply chains belong in the cloud

Friday, June 6th, 2014 by

Transportation experts already use bar codes and radio transmitters to keep track of outbound and inbound materials. However, third-party logistics providers may need to employ cloud computing to keep pace with a clientele that primarily consists of nationwide retailers.

A commercial truck transports goods on an interstate highway.

A commercial truck transports goods on an interstate highway.

Merchandisers have realized that aggregating data from numerous sources and then transcribing it into actionable information is a process that will allow them to remain competitive. A portion of that intelligence is collected from hundreds of thousands of daily eCommerce orders, which is then transferred to supply chain professionals in charge of shipping each item to customers across the country.

Leveraging surveillance 
The aforementioned process enables logistics experts to accurately predict future consumer demand and initiate deliveries the instant an order is made. Distributing that huge amount of tangible capital from region to region requires comprehensive, real-time oversight to optimize efficiency and stay one step ahead of criminals interested in stealing freight. This high level of surveillance is provided via Internet-connected devices installed on each asset (trucks, forklifts, pallets, individual packages, etc.).

According to Tech Radar, a report conducted by Gartner suggested that the number of mechanisms capable of communicating with the Web will reach 26 billion by 2020, 25.1 billion more than the amount that existed in 2009. The firm noted that although this growth presents a great opportunity for companies to obtain a wide variety of information, it also will pressure on-premise data centers trying to adequately handle an expanding amount of data at a faster pace. Aside from the amount of intelligence that’s projected to become available, the sophistication of such devices must be put into perspective, noted Gartner’s Managing Vice President Michael Burkett.

“Some IoT [Internet of Things] devices are more mature, such as commercial telematics now used in trucking fleets to improve logistics efficiency,” said Burkett, as quoted by Tech Radar. “Some such as smart fabrics that use sensors within clothing and industrial fabrics to monitor human health or manufacturing process are just emerging.”

Applying them to logistics 
The fact that distributors are already using IoT is definitely a step in the right direction, but many are still stuck with on-premise technology that’s preventing them from using more Internet-connected devices. Moving to cloud hosting will enable logistics companies to make the most of their data collection efforts and provide them with an environment capable of supporting complex analytics programs.

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Moving past data centers: Public cloud storage

Monday, June 2nd, 2014 by

Managing data volume and storage using an in-house data center isn’t necessarily the cheapest endeavor. Between equipment maintenance and variable energy costs, obtaining information from these stores is pretty expensive and can weigh heavily on any IT department with less than a dozen people.

Data center employee works with a server.

Data center employee works with a server.

Scrutinizing categories
To reduce overhead costs, many organizations are choosing to invest in cloud storage, which allows companies to access intelligence more fluidly. According to IBM Systems magazine, there are three main categories of data enterprises handle on a regular basis:

1. Hot – information that’s needed most frequently and requires faster access
2. Warm – information that viewed fairly often and is stored on slightly slower storage
3. Cold – information that’s rarely accessed and can be stored on the slowest units

Traditionally, organizations have to factor in rack space, power supply energy requirements, redundancy, and recovery capabilities when prioritizing data center tasks. Certain algorithms are used to allocate workloads between servers to deliver higher performance. Each data category requires a different protocol and set of rules so that tasks can be managed efficiently.

Ascending into the cloud 
HostReview contributor Steve Jen noted that migrating data storage responsibilities to cloud servers eliminates much of the tediousness associated with in-house access and data processing. There are a few key reasons companies have decided to make this transition, the main one being a significant reduction in expenses. By moving to the cloud, IT departments can also realize other advantages such as eliminating the need to invest in tangible infrastructure like hard disks and cooling units or constantly maintaining those assets. By eliminating such administrative tasks, IT professionals can dedicate more time, energy, and resources to implementing business-changing applications, improving processes, and focusing on value-added services.

One of the most popular features of cloud computing is that it enables employees to access information when not in the office. This capability helps enterprises keep up with an increasingly mobile workforce, freeing staff from physical location and allowing them to build and maintain customer relationships on a more flexible schedule. In addition to viewing files from a home office, employees can store, collaborate, and synchronize documents and other data in near-real-time.

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Not headed to the cloud? Your employees are!

Friday, May 30th, 2014 by

Even if an enterprise isn’t yet ready to make the transition to cloud computing, there’s a good chance its employees have already made the investment. Because the technology allows easy access to files and other common forms of data, it lets professionals have more flexible work lives that often involve remote access. If an IT department doesn’t respond to that trend, however, it can pose a potential risk to an organization’s network infrastructure.

Two business professionals solidify a working relationship.

The old-fashioned way of solidifying a relationship.

Unfortunately, many tech professionals working behind the scenes are unaware of the situation and therefore can’t take the necessary measures to ensure security. It doesn’t help to blame employees for using cloud storage or even company leaders who haven’t yet recognized the needs of their subordinates.

Solidifying a relationship 
Before the current wave of cloud adoption, it was relatively easy for enterprises to keep their IT departments on the back burner. As long as the in-house system operated the way it was supposed to, that’s all that mattered. However, the 21st century added a number of ways for employees to obtain information, from smartphones and tablets to Web-based file sharing. As a result, a schism occurred between IT professionals and the rest of the company, according to Computerworld.

“There’s a tug-of-war tension in the enterprise right now,” said Gartner Analyst Lydia Leong, as quoted by the source. “IT administrators very rarely voluntarily want to go with the public cloud … The people who are pushing for these services are not IT operations people but business people.”

This tension has created an environment that isn’t constructive for adapting to current IT trends. Computerworld acknowledged that when Human Resources, Marketing, and other departments pursue cloud investments without sharing those plans across the company, IT personnel can’t figure out what information is moving through the environment. This operating model also disables the CIO’s ability to knowledgeably form a beneficial service level agreement with a cloud hosting company.

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How does Big Data fit into marketing?

Tuesday, May 27th, 2014 by

Even midsize businesses looking to cast a wider net are integrating Big Data into their marketing strategies. Make no mistake: Human insight will never become obsolete in the face of analytical marketing. An organization can have the most advanced analysis program on the planet, but if those reviewing the information can’t make heads or tails of it, then there’s no point in using the system.

Diagram of a brand promotion strategy.

Diagram of a brand promotion strategy.

Possessing a robust Marking operation goes far beyond searching for the latest and greatest analysis platform. Although it may lead to success, Marketing isn’t the be-all, end-all solution to every problem. Making the most out of any system is a two-way street: a company’s human assets must regard it as a technological assistant and support it with the appropriate environment.

Move into the cloud
To receive thorough, well-detailed reports, organizations want to be able to aggregate as much digital information as possible. Instead of cramming all  this data onto predefined, legacy platforms, professionals should strongly consider investing in cloud computing. When enterprises decide to move toward remote access, concerns like overworking a system, general server maintenance, and load-balancing are eliminated. The scalable environments can be accessed from almost anywhere, enabling marketers to easily obtain files stored on cloud servers and make decisions wherever they are.

Provide insights
Once an adequate support system has been established, CMOs can begin launching analytics programs to figure out how customers consistently interact with their brand through multiple channels. The question is, how do companies manage such a relentless flow of data? Jason Bowden, a contributor to Business 2 Community, claimed that it all depends on the company’s angle. Gaining insight from a large amount of intelligence doesn’t need to involve feeding it to an unwieldy, self-automated machine in the hope that actionable insights will come out the other end.

Instead, marketers should set clearly defined goals. Do they want to know why a certain product on an e-commerce site isn’t receiving hits? Are they trying to determine how in-store item placement affects customer decisions? These are just two of the many scenarios they may face. Bowman acknowledged a few ways to handle data appropriately:

  • Percolate the information and identify which aspects of a digital marketing campaign can generate greater leads.
  • Filter applicable metrics that will display practical ways to reinforce products and services to entice consumers to invest.
  • Leverage data to create a pattern of how to chart weaknesses, enabling employees to pinpoint the source of issues.

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