Managing the big data explosion

Digital transformation is disrupting legacy business models and creating new and exciting opportunities. At the heart of this transformation is explosive data growth. Dell EMC Government Account Director, Gavin McCarthy writes.

Exposed by increased big data and internet of things workloads, the following points present an interesting challenge for the modern data centre:

  • 80 per cent of new data is unstructured and it’s doubling every two years;
  • by 2020, our accumulated digital universe of data will grow to around 44 zettabytes, (or 44 trillion gigabytes) from 4.4 zettabytes in 2015;
  • 73 per cent of organisations have already invested or plan to invest in big data this year; and
  • currently, less than 0.5 per cent of all data is ever analysed and used. The potential is significant.

At Dell EMC, we see many customers today making a clear choice to keep big data ‘on premises’ because the workload and the project is so very closely coupled with key business outcomes. This data driven project will often bring immediate data challenges into the data centre. For the organisation as a whole, the cost of doing nothing is akin to conceding ‘we are going to lose business, reduce our customer satisfaction, ignore cost savings and run inefficient supply chains compared to our competition’. Saying no is not an option. For so many organisations, becoming a data driven business is a survival issue.

Technologies borne out of the Google era, such as Hadoop, allow new ways to manipulate and use data as well as bringing serious cost reduction for traditional storage. One of Dell Technologies companies, SecureWorks, provided a case study a few years ago for our Hadoop supplier, explaining how we increased our ability to process massive volumes of data but reduced the storage costs by 80 per cent. Compelling in so many ways – more for less. However, whilst technology can be virtualised and costs reduced, the footprint of the data machine is likely to expand inside the data centre. We see how almost every company that embraces digital transformation and data driven business reap large rewards both in terms of making money and saving money. However, data has a very strong propensity to grow. In fact, many of the best data driven businesses (including Dell EMC’s own operations) advocate using more data, never less data.

Intrinsically, data collation does not merely inform the construction of enhanced tables and graphs for senior management teams to study each morning. The modern data driven organisation is already seeing value in techniques that have been around for a long time but are becoming economically viable for almost every business. You may hear about machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI). The broad scope of machine learning is now being used every day within companies and organisations that utilise it to better support positive customer experience, create highly automated and effective supply chains and speed up simple decision systems that help customers connect to your organisation.

Consider the simple automated messages such as those distributed by the Hailo booking app – ‘your taxi is four minutes away’ – a feature which users love. This attribute is massively data and machine learning driven and provided in real time into the app. It is a fundamental differentiator from the traditional taxi that is ‘always 10 minutes away from you’. This ensures happy Hailo account holders due to data, massive cost prevention through the automatic and efficient delivery of information and accuracy which is trusted by the user. It means that Hailo does not need to pay for a call operative to repetitively read from a screen. It is a perfect example of how and why data and real time information, machine learning and at-scale data management or use can introduce cost savings and operational efficiencies into any organisation, regardless of what sector it operates in. The data centre then becomes a cost savings or revenue generating tool and ultimately drives customer satisfaction and loyalty. That changes the way the organisation views the data centre. As data grows and the organisational dependency on this expands, scale has the potential to create challenges.

“The modern data driven organisation is already seeing value in techniques that have been around for a long time but are becoming economically viable for almost every business.”

Dell EMC have a number of ways of addressing the potential scale-impact. Technology will help you manage scale. For example, software defined platforms are effectively designed with scale and agility in mind. However, we need customers to plan for a platform that assumes a scale not previously known. This often needs data centre management and IT operations management to re-think some of the traditional ways of doing things. The data centre now sits at the centre of the thought process behind many of the key business projects, whether they are revenue generating or costs savings driven. Some of the more interesting conversations, often driven by scale, come from the experience of the modular hyper-scale sites, where the data centre is now just a building, or sometimes even just a wall, containing a number of modular data centre components. Other conversations turn to software defined data centres and platform based services.

Additionally, we have seen a significant uptake in interest around the offerings from another Dell Technologies company, Boomi. This is essentially a multi-tenant integration platform that can be implemented within weeks, sometimes even days, and delivers rapid time to value for the integration of multiple databases with no software or appliances required. Industry analysts, ISVs, and businesses alike have endorsed it as the leading cloud-based enterprise integration solution due to the combination of its powerful architecture, design for ease of use, and extensive, global community.

Together with our partners, we are working closely with various Government departments and state agencies on a number of transformative initiatives. These will ultimately deliver enhanced information for decision makers in the public sector as a whole. Such initiatives include the Build to Share strategy on infrastructure and applications, alongside a more integrated, shared and digital environment for citizens, business and public servants.

The data centre is changing and, at the same time, revitalising some existing ideas with fresh impetus. Dell Technologies provides the essential infrastructure and associated software/solutions that support the data centre of today and tomorrow. It is essential to operate on an open standards basis where the decisions you make today should not dictate the decision you have to make tomorrow.


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