|By Eric Tschetter||
|September 21, 2012 10:00 AM EDT||
It's become increasingly clear that Big Data, and the tools for manipulating, visualizing and analyzing it, are transforming the business landscape. McKinsey released a report in 2011 that projects 40 percent growth in global data generated per year. This is all well and good, but more and more companies are finding that their toolbox for dealing with all of this data is antiquated and confusing.
Indeed, 58 percent of enterprise decision makers surveyed in March 2012 by DataXu felt they lacked the skills and technology required for marketing analytics. Marketers should be chomping at the bit to fruitfully employ the data they have. Successful marketing requires proper segmentation of the customer base to create more targeted campaigns. Real-time insight into the performance of existing campaigns and a clear grasp of where to redirect efforts can also turn a campaign that would have failed into a success. These are the promises made by the drivers of the current "data movement." The unfortunate reality, however, is that the accumulation of data just adds to the costs of an organization as it struggles to merely store the incoming torrent of data, let alone harness it and allow non-technical individuals to explore and understand it.
Luckily, this isn't the first time that industries have experienced this type of problem. The data movement is just like any other one that starts out as a niche interest to a select few people, eventually growing into a commoditized marketplace that competes on usability and ease of access.
Of all metaphors to pick for this process, the restaurant is an apt one. Cooking is something everyone can do. Mix up some batter, put it on a hot skillet, and you'll get pancakes. Add some eggs and a glass of orange juice and you've either got your brain on drugs or a complete breakfast. You can also go to your local IHOP and order the same thing. If you make it yourself, you know everything that's in it and can control the various aspects of the meal. But you also have to deal with acquiring the ingredients, having the facilities to cook, and doing the cleanup. If you go to a restaurant, all you have to do is show up, tell them what you want, and pay.
Similarly, the analytics space has two types of offerings. You can choose to do it yourself or you can use a hosted service to take care of things for you. As with cooking versus going to a restaurant, there are costs and benefits associated with both, but my biased opinion is that a hosted solution is the best choice for tackling the current influx of data.
Economies of Scale
Restaurants provide the benefits of economies of scale to their patrons, allowing customers to consume and enjoy foods that they normally wouldn't be able to at home. High-quality tuna is rather expensive and generally comes in quantities that no individual person could ever consume before it goes bad. Yet, you can go to a sushi restaurant and get various parts of the fish. This is economies of scale in action. The restaurant can afford to put down a significant sum of money to acquire the whole tuna and resell it in pieces to its patrons.
Hosted analytics presents a similar case. A hosted analytics provider is able to pay more money upfront for hardware than any one of its customers would. The reality of data processing is that there are physical limitations to the amount of data a computer can process given a certain amount of time. This problem can only be overcome with more and better hardware.
Because it serves multiple users, a hosted system is actually incentivized to provision enough machines to answer questions quickly. The compute resources are only required for the duration of a query against the system. The faster a query gets answered, the quicker those resources are freed up to answer someone else's query. Responding to queries fast enough to free up resources for the next query is actually the only way to achieve high levels of concurrency. Because the hosted provider is building their business on the idea that multiple customers will share the same infrastructure, they have to support more than just one query at a time and thus are naturally forced to provide their users with a faster querying experience. Economies of scale work to the users' advantage.
Integration of Diverse Data Streams
Another benefit of hosted analytics systems is that they can provide overnight integration with other data sets, both public and private. Taking this back to the restaurant analogy, restaurants add new items to their menu on a regular basis. If they find a supplier that will give them Alaskan king crab for the same price as a lesser form of crab, patrons will all of a sudden start eating better crab without having even known it was coming. The hosted analytics case is similar in that users can take advantage of new data sets that the provider has integrated.
Consider the following scenario. A marketer might normally have access to customer profile and engagement information through their analytics system. Companies like Amazon Web Services offer up data sets from the human genome, the U.S. Census Bureau, and Wikipedia. If a hosted analytics company integrates a public data set like one of these, they can then expose it to all of their clients. This means that if there are 1,000 customers of the hosted offering and only one of them asks for the integration of the public data set, 999 customers get that same integration overnight. All of the participants reap the benefits of having more data sets available. Through the process of overlaying various data streams, marketers can learn more about their customers and their behavior in order to better target their campaigns. This is just one more benefit hosted offerings provide to ensure that companies can maximally leverage the value of their data.
Analytics are only good if they are understandable and actionable, just as restaurants are only good if their food is edible and delicious. There are thousands of ingredients that could be mixed in with fried eggs, but some will taste delicious and some will just result in an inedible concoction. As patrons of many restaurants, we often come to a consensus on what various restaurants do well, personal taste notwithstanding. This knowledge can be employed to eat only the best meals. The same mechanism of collective understanding will play itself out in the hosted analytics space.
Any company that provides hosted analytics to a variety of businesses wants to give its customers only the most useful analytical metrics and functionalities. Marketers may not have the specific training to pinpoint exactly which analysis methods to leverage for maximal effect. That's where the multi-tenant properties of hosted analytics work to your benefit. The hosted analytics provider will be sensitive to which of their tools are providing the most value across their entire customer base. In other words, the individual customers all come together to form a collaborative filter to ensure that the less useful analytics features will be cast aside in favor of those that yield valuable insights. As with the integration of public data sets, this filtering mechanism ensures that benefits cascade throughout the entire system of analytics users. Even for features that do not seem to be immediately relevant to your company's success, as a customer of a hosted provider you can rest assured that once your company turns that corner in its business growth, the hosted provider already knows the kinds of analysis you'll find yourself needing and has the tools available. Newcomers to the platform are thus quickly able to reap the benefits of an analytical toolset that has been vetted by the crowd.
In the past few years, Big Data has exploded in importance. Marketers must learn how to take away useful, actionable insights from the mass of data at their hands in order to create a competitive advantage for their companies. Hosted analytics systems will truly prove themselves to be a staple choice for deciphering the increasing amounts of data that companies have to deal with, just as restaurants are a ubiquitous presence in our current lives.
In closing, we can stretch the restaurant metaphor just a little bit more. In both a restaurant and a home kitchen, there's an able cook who knows how to turn raw ingredients into a delicious meal. Similarly, the future still includes analysts who understand the intricacies of your business. You will, however, achieve much more efficient use of your analyst's time by leveraging the benefits of a hosted analytics provider: improved performance, "free" integration of external data sets, and collaborative vetting of the analytical feature set.
Small teams are more effective. The general agreement is that anything from 5 to 12 is the 'right' small. But of course small teams will also have 'small' throughput - relatively speaking. So if your demand is X and the throughput of a small team is X/10, you probably need 10 teams to meet that demand. But more teams also mean more effort to coordinate and align their efforts in the same direction. So, the challenge is how to harness the power of small teams and yet orchestrate multiples of them...
May. 6, 2016 06:00 PM EDT Reads: 653
As enterprises around the world struggle with their digital transformation efforts, many are finding that innovative digital teams are moving much faster than their hidebound IT organizations. Rather than struggling to convince traditional IT to get with the digital program, executives are taking advice from IT research firm Gartner, and encouraging existing IT to continue in their desultory ways. However, many CIOs are realizing the dangers of following Gartner’s advice. The central challenge ...
May. 6, 2016 06:00 PM EDT Reads: 288
Much of the value of DevOps comes from a (renewed) focus on measurement, sharing, and continuous feedback loops. In increasingly complex DevOps workflows and environments, and especially in larger, regulated, or more crystallized organizations, these core concepts become even more critical. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 18th Cloud Expo, Andi Mann, Chief Technology Advocate at Splunk, will show how, by focusing on 'metrics that matter,' you can provide objective, transparent, and meaningfu...
May. 6, 2016 06:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,251
The goal of any tech business worth its salt is to provide the best product or service to its clients in the most efficient and cost-effective way possible. This is just as true in the development of software products as it is in other product design services. Microservices, an app architecture style that leans mostly on independent, self-contained programs, are quickly becoming the new norm, so to speak. With this change comes a declining reliance on older SOAs like COBRA, a push toward more s...
May. 6, 2016 05:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,769
In a crowded world of popular computer languages, platforms and ecosystems, Node.js is one of the hottest. According to w3techs.com, Node.js usage has gone up 241 percent in the last year alone. Retailers have taken notice and are implementing it on many levels. I am going to share the basics of Node.js, and discuss why retailers are using it to reduce page load times and improve server efficiency. I’ll talk about similar developments such as Docker and microservices, and look at several compani...
May. 6, 2016 03:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,000
In the world of DevOps there are ‘known good practices’ – aka ‘patterns’ – and ‘known bad practices’ – aka ‘anti-patterns.' Many of these patterns and anti-patterns have been developed from real world experience, especially by the early adopters of DevOps theory; but many are more feasible in theory than in practice, especially for more recent entrants to the DevOps scene. In this power panel at @DevOpsSummit at 18th Cloud Expo, moderated by DevOps Conference Chair Andi Mann, panelists will dis...
May. 6, 2016 12:45 PM EDT Reads: 1,190
SYS-CON Events announced today that Peak 10, Inc., a national IT infrastructure and cloud services provider, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Peak 10 provides reliable, tailored data center and network services, cloud and managed services. Its solutions are designed to scale and adapt to customers’ changing business needs, enabling them to lower costs, improve performance and focus inter...
May. 6, 2016 10:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,534
Many private cloud projects were built to deliver self-service access to development and test resources. While those clouds delivered faster access to resources, they lacked visibility, control and security needed for production deployments. In their session at 18th Cloud Expo, Steve Anderson, Product Manager at BMC Software, and Rick Lefort, Principal Technical Marketing Consultant at BMC Software, will discuss how a cloud designed for production operations not only helps accelerate developer...
May. 6, 2016 08:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,400
Last week I had the pleasure of speaking on a panel at Sapphire Ventures Next-Gen Tech Stack Forum in San Francisco. Obviously, I was excited to join the discussion, but as a participant the event crystallized not only where the larger software development market is relative to microservices, container technologies (like Docker), continuous integration and deployment; but also provided insight into where DevOps is heading in the coming years.
May. 6, 2016 07:00 AM EDT Reads: 309
Wow, if you ever wanted to learn about Rugged DevOps (some call it DevSecOps), sit down for a spell with Shannon Lietz, Ian Allison and Scott Kennedy from Intuit. We discussed a number of important topics including internal war games, culture hacking, gamification of Rugged DevOps and starting as a small team. There are 100 gold nuggets in this conversation for novices and experts alike.
May. 6, 2016 05:30 AM EDT Reads: 1,082
The notion of customer journeys, of course, are central to the digital marketer’s playbook. Clearly, enterprises should focus their digital efforts on such journeys, as they represent customer interactions over time. But making customer journeys the centerpiece of the enterprise architecture, however, leaves more questions than answers. The challenge arises when EAs consider the context of the customer journey in the overall architecture as well as the architectural elements that make up each...
May. 6, 2016 04:15 AM EDT Reads: 2,117
Admittedly, two years ago I was a bulk contributor to the DevOps noise with conversations rooted in the movement around culture, principles, and goals. And while all of these elements of DevOps environments are important, I’ve found that the biggest challenge now is a lack of understanding as to why DevOps is beneficial. It’s getting the wheels going, or just taking the next step. The best way to start on the road to change is to take a look at the companies that have already made great headway ...
May. 6, 2016 02:45 AM EDT Reads: 570
In 2006, Martin Fowler posted his now famous essay on Continuous Integration. Looking back, what seemed revolutionary, radical or just plain crazy is now common, pedestrian and "just what you do." I love it. Back then, building and releasing software was a real pain. Integration was something you did at the end, after code complete, and we didn't know how long it would take. Some people may recall how we, as an industry, spent a massive amount of time integrating code from one team with another...
May. 6, 2016 01:30 AM EDT Reads: 1,175
From the conception of Docker containers to the unfolding microservices revolution we see today, here is a brief history of what I like to call 'containerology'. In 2013, we were solidly in the monolithic application era. I had noticed that a growing amount of effort was going into deploying and configuring applications. As applications had grown in complexity and interdependency over the years, the effort to install and configure them was becoming significant. But the road did not end with a ...
May. 6, 2016 12:30 AM EDT Reads: 803
I have an article in the recently released “DZone Guide to Building and Deploying Applications on the Cloud” entitled “Fullstack Engineering in the Age of Hybrid Cloud”. In this article I discuss the need and skills of a Fullstack Engineer with relation to troubleshooting and repairing complex, distributed hybrid cloud applications. My recent experiences with troubleshooting issues with my Docker WordPress container only reinforce the details I wrote about in this piece. Without my comprehensive...
May. 5, 2016 11:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,112
As the software delivery industry continues to evolve and mature, the challenge of managing the growing list of the tools and processes becomes more daunting every day. Today, Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) platforms are proving most valuable by providing the governance, management and coordination for every stage of development, deployment and release. Recently, I spoke with Madison Moore at SD Times about the changing market and where ALM is headed.
May. 5, 2016 07:45 PM EDT Reads: 1,655
Much of the discussion around cloud DevOps focuses on the speed with which companies need to get new code into production. This focus is important – because in an increasingly digital marketplace, new code enables new value propositions. New code is also often essential for maintaining competitive parity with market innovators. But new code doesn’t just have to deliver the functionality the business requires. It also has to behave well because the behavior of code in the cloud affects performan...
May. 5, 2016 03:15 AM EDT Reads: 1,530
Struggling to keep up with increasing application demand? Learn how Platform as a Service (PaaS) can streamline application development processes and make resource management easy.
May. 4, 2016 09:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,280
If there is anything we have learned by now, is that every business paves their own unique path for releasing software- every pipeline, implementation and practices are a bit different, and DevOps comes in all shapes and sizes. Software delivery practices are often comprised of set of several complementing (or even competing) methodologies – such as leveraging Agile, DevOps and even a mix of ITIL, to create the combination that’s most suitable for your organization and that maximize your busines...
May. 3, 2016 07:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,969
Digital means customer preferences and behavior are driving enterprise technology decisions to be sure, but let’s not forget our employees. After all, when we say customer, we mean customer writ large, including partners, supply chain participants, and yes, those salaried denizens whose daily labor forms the cornerstone of the enterprise. While your customers bask in the warm rays of your digital efforts, are your employees toiling away in the dark recesses of your enterprise, pecking data into...
May. 3, 2016 04:45 PM EDT Reads: 1,179