Where is the Big Data?

MountainGiven our focus at HOSTING on building and operating high performance clouds for midsized enterprises, I occasionally get asked the question, “Do you do a lot of Hadoop?”  The short answer to that question is “No”.  How could that be?  Isn’t big data the NEXT BIG THING?  Well, it might be for large enterprises, or it might be in certain niche markets such as the hedge funds in financial services. It might even be big on self-service IaaS platforms such as AWS.  However, the Big Data wave does not yet seem to have washed up upon the shores of the midmarket.

Midmarket companies are in an interesting position where they are big enough to compete with much larger players, but they don’t have anywhere near the IT resources that their competitors have.  One ramification of this is that they don’t have resources to experiment with new technologies.  Instead, they often let their larger (and sometimes smaller) competitors figure out how to apply new technologies to their businesses.  Once the experimentation is complete and relatively standard practices and solutions emerge using the new technology – and the price comes down — then the midmarket jumps in.

Big data is clearly “not there yet” for the midmarket.  I was at a midmarket CIO conference earlier this year that featured workshops with several analysts from Info-Tech.  I attended a packed session on Big Data.  The only person in that room actually doing big data was a person from a hedge fund manager who described how the technology was changing so rapidly that they implement new tools every six months or so.  I also met with a GigaOM big data analyst (Paul Miller) at GigaOM’s Structure conference in San Francisco.  He confirmed that big data is still in the very early stages and that the technology is not yet “ready” for conservative markets such as the midmarket.  So, Big Data will probably have its day in the sun in the midmarket someday, but that day is not in the foreseeable future.


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