Don DeLoach's CEO Blog
If you read the Cisco report from last year, you understand the expectation is that there will be more than one mobile device for every human being on Earth by 2015. If you think back to the mid-1990's, when "car phones" were exploding, it was cool to have one, but the idea that EVERYBODY would have not just a car phone, but a (relatively) tiny cellular phone that also kept your calendar, did emails, took pictures, and allowed you to see what your friends were fixing their kids for dinner would have seemed crazy to most people. Star Wars stuff, you know? But more and more, scientific research and exceptional engineering around the globe has made crazy idea after crazy idea move from improbable status to practical everyday reality. Think about it, everything from low cost flat screen TVs to computers in your car to sensor technology that allows you to locate your kids based on their telephones, which in and of itself is a little mind boggling. From a technology standpoint, the wholly accepted reality of today is like a TV show from 15 years ago. And the rate of change is accelerating.
Take, for example, gene sequencing and our understanding of the human body. The progress in the last several years has been greater than in all of history combined. And the idea that we can make far reaching and incredibly accurate predictions about our bodies by taking a blood sample is not far fetched, it absolutely will happen. No question. I know almost nothing about this, and yet I know enough to know this will become a reality.
What else? How about computers that are tiny, and viewed on a screen integrated with glasses? To a large extent, we are already there. What about devices that take biometric readings and look for thresholds, and automatically activate a Bluetooth connection with your cell phone and contact a central monitoring facility when you are in an alert state? Check. We're there too.
But let's move from the individual to society at large. What about the cities of the future? What about a world where your car talks to the traffic system and drives you to work. Not routes you... DRIVES you. The guidance system on your car gets the route as well as the optimum path to take to your destination, while sensor technology in the car detects other cars and objects around you as well as the traffic signals. What about your home energy system that recalibrates based on the temperature outside, the occupants, or lack thereof, inside, and ideal energy usage, up to and including interacting with the energy grid system when needed to conserve energy across the grid. We are there as well. The idea that machines will talk to machines is not far fetched at all, it is a reality today. And just like the manifestation of the reality of cellular technology had a reasonably low and crude penetration rate at first, but has become near universal now, so will these machine to machine (M2M) communications.
Tim Berners-Lee (author of the model for the World Wide Web) has been driving the evolution of the Semantic Web. Whereas the World Wide Web allows people to find DOCUMENTS on the Web, the Semantic Web definition is meant to allow users of the Web (people or machines) to find DATA, and to interact based on that data. Now some people agree, and others disagree as to whether the Semantic Web organization's (WC3) approach is the right one, but nobody following this discussion disagrees that Machine-to-Machine communications, or put another way, Systems talking to Systems, will become a mainstream reality. It will happen.
A world where machines are communicating with machines requires underlying technology optimized for such an environment. We do that today at Infobright, and the use cases deal with machine-generated data. Our users range from telco OSS providers to financial institutions to adtech companies to online gaming, virtual reality, and large scale log analytics applications (like you have heard so much about recently in the wake of the Splunk IPO). And the demands for storing and analyzing machine-generated data continue to grow today. But what is certain as well, is the world of machines interacting with machines will explode that demand tomorrow.
Mathematically speaking, the progression to that world is certain. It is going to happen. And what a cool world that will be.
One of the things I like most about my job is being surrounded by a lot of very smart people. I am forever amazed at how innovative our developers are. Even more amazing is watching what our customers build using our software. In fairness, I like looking at and learning from the competitive offerings out there as well. The Big Data industry is filled (more so each day) with very clever people and companies.
That said, what was absolutely right yesterday may not be absolutely right today or tomorrow. As technology changes, there are generally macroscopic implications that often call into question the "best practices" of yesterday. A great example of this is the approach to data models. Bill Inmon is a giant in the database and data warehousing world. No question about that. But there are those who have a religious devotion to star and snowflake schemas based on how appropriate they were for conditions yesterday that may not match the conditions of today, especially in the world of Big Data. There is a fantastic presentation by David Walker, a data warehousing consultant in the UK, that can be viewed in Slideshare by linking through this link. Dave points out, for instance, that the basic assumption is that the database being used is a row store database and not a column store, and that users will be running reporting tools and OLAP cubes to access the data. While these can sometimes be true, neither will necessarily be true. The presentation is definitely worth a look.
And the rather obvious point is that in the fast changing world of Big Data, there are implications everywhere. The business problem we are trying to solve has changed. The tools to solve the problems have changed. And the way the tools are used to solve the problems, more and more, need to change as well.
And by the way, as far as the smart people I interact with, Dave is among the best.