Don DeLoach's CEO Blog
I will be going to Barcelona next week for Mobile World Congress for the third year in a row. If being in a crowd at the Meadowlands makes you uneasy, then don't consider going. It is a mad house. Last year, there were around 75,000 people. It is absolutely insane. But to me, it's insane in a good way. Here are my top 5 reasons why I am going to this year's Mobile World Congress.
- It is the epicenter of where technology is going. This alone justifies it for me. If you look at where technology was in the late 90s, the tech boom fueled by the Internet was evolving. Anything that looked like a "capturing the essence of the Internet" was in the thick of the transformation. I truly believe we are on the verge of the next tsunami of technology, marked by the "Internet of Things", but also sometimes heard under the moniker of "M2M" or "The Industrial Internet" or "The Semantic Web." And you will most assuredly find all these and more in Barcelona. They all really refer to the world ahead of us, where billions of interconnected devices - combining more and more sophisticated sensor technology with more and more sophisticated communications technology - create a very real world of smart energy delivery, mobile health, smart traffic systems and smart vehicles, and much, much more. A connected world. Or more accurately, with kudos to IBM for catching the nuance - a connected "Planet." The remainder of the universe is largely unconnected… as far as we know.
- It is an unbelievably good learning opportunity. The Mobile Network Operators, for painfully obvious reasons, are in the center of the movement described above. But, from these roots the reach of this wave is growing, and almost all of the participating players are in Barcelona. So if you enjoy learning about how sensors, sewn into the elastic bands of underwear to hold the sensor tight to your skin, activates your bluetooth link to alert out-of boundary-conditions related to your wellbeing; or if understanding how the mobile network operators will simultaneously accommodate a vast increase in high-density video while providing a delivery platform for short intermittent messages for monitoring the delivery of electricity to a home; then this is the place. It is a masters degree crammed into eight buildings and a week.
- It has many our our customers in one place. Since this is what we do, specifically, more and more of the attendees at this show are our customers. It gives me a chance to catch up with them, some of them now good friends, all in one place. It is both efficient and rewarding. This also, in and of itself, justifies going.
- It has thousands of other companies who (in my view) clearly need to become our OEM partners! The reason we are experiencing growth in this space is very, very simple. While we absolutely do not try to be all things to all people, and do not portray Infobright as a general purpose database, we are uniquely suited as an embedded database for the "Internet of Things" revolution. We offer high load speeds, great performance including tremendous capabilities for ad-hoc, investigative analytics, with compression ratios that are almost hard to believe, but all with little to no database administration required. If you are a solution provider in to the world of the Internet of Things, these characteristics - especially the low touch, easy deployment - are extremely attractive. In order to do this, we make certain assumptions about the data structure. This may not be so good as a standard general-purpose data warehouse, and there are many clever technologies out there we regard highly that are, but it is great for OEM solutions servicing the Internet of Things. And again, this starts with the cottage industry around the Mobile Network Operators. There is no larger gathering of these companies in the world than at MWC in Barcelona.
- It is one of the most interesting gatherings of people imaginable. It is, I would argue, even more interesting than the crowd at the Meadowlands, or the people you see at Heathrow on a Monday morning in the customs line (although both are arguably quite interesting as well). At MWC, it is a gathering of old and new. It is also almost ostentatious in its international presence. This is not a European conference - it is truly, truly global. There are tightly controlled, heavily manned booths with very dry technical presentations. There are glittery new things being shown by the device providers. There is a palpable buzz in the app pavilion, where the average age inside seems to drop 15 years from the buildings on either side and jeans are more the rule than the exception. There are the obvious and very compelling pavilions by the likes of Cisco and Nokia Siemens Networks and Ericsson and Alcatel Lucent, but there are the equally compelling, but otherwise obscure booths of start-ups with few people but fabulous ideas and a world of promise.
If you are planning to go and have not been before, you are in for a treat. If you have been before, then you know what I am talking about. It seems to be getting better and better at this point, especially given the trends we are seeing. And if you want to get together while you are there, reach and and let us know. We welcome the discussions.
We issued a press release last week announcing the Yellow Pages Group (YPG) as a customer of our newly introduced Infopliance. We are delighted with having YPG as a customer for the Infopliance. However, in the body of the announcement there was a reference to Infobright’s ability to manage a Petabyte of data on a single node. This statement needs clarification and correction.
The way the sentence was phrased, while conceivably possible, is not something we would ever recommend. Rather, the statement should have referenced how the Infobright can, and has, supported Petabyte instances across multiple nodes. Moreover, our single node scalability is quite impressive. We can support in a single node instances of Infobright approaching 100TB, and in a single node Infopliance, up to 150TB. The scalability is impressive, and the costs associated with establishing and maintaining that environment is exceptionally aggressive.
I am unbelievably proud of the progress we have made in the past couple of years at Infobright. In additional to substantial momentum in the Adtech space and an increasing number of customers using Infobright as a really cool abstraction layer on top of Hadoop or MongoDB, we count some of the largest OEM providers in the Telco space as customers. We are intimately aware that the capabilities we provide there are indicative of our ability to deliver unique value to the vast growth in the M2M/Internet of Things world.
And while I want us to state, again and again, why we have so much faith in the value we bring, I don't want us to overstate anything, hence the correction here.
I have a number of friends who are either industry analysts or financial analysts. I think some of them are really, really good. Claudia Imhoff and the work coming out of the Boulder BI Brain Trust is certainly insightful, although at times more candid than some would like. But that's what they do, and it has great value. I think Curt Monash has great insights. Peter Goldmacher from Cowen and Company was really in front of the Big Data wave, and does a great job. They all look at trends and are forever making predictions, public or not, and they are all good at what they do. Me? Not so much. I pay close attention to the markets we are involved in, but as for predictions, I rate myself more as a novice. So I guess this is my way of a disclaimer that much of what I am about to say can be taken with a grain of salt, but it made me think. And if it makes you think, that's never bad. So here goes…
One: The Internet of Things will become the New New Thing. Many people would suggest it already has. But in fact, the amount of money and resources currently being put into this is expected to pale in comparison to where it will be by 2015. For a while, the most visible sign of this was the IBM Smarter Planet initiative. Now go out on YouTube and search for "Internet of Things" and see what you get. It is clear that this is not a fad. It is also clear that the terms used still vary, but are beginning to converge. In addition to the "Internet of Things," you will hear "Industrial Internet," "Machine to Machine" or M2M, the Semantic Web and more. And while the key names leading some of these initiatives for some of the more heavily invested companies or industry groups, like Tim Berners-Lee of W3C will tout the nomenclature of their main affiliation (in his case, the Semantic Web), they are all converging around the central thesis that we are moving to a world of connected devices where auto-generated information will become pervasive, and the world as we know it will change. And while people have begin to talk about this, my prediction is that by the end of 2013, everyone will be talking about it.
Two: Machine-Generated Data will become more universally recognized as a key fuel for the future. Now, some may question my objectivity here as Infobright is really a platform for Machine-Generated Data. In that sense, I plead guilty. And yet, as a function of what we do, I would argue I spend a disproportionate amount of my time focused on this topic, and as such, I'm in a position to recognize this trend ahead of some. This trend is as logical as any basic mathematical progression. If A = B, and B = C, then A = C. If Machine-Generated Data - the data which is generated (and often consumed) by devices that will enable the Internet of Things - and The Internet of Things comes into its own in an undeniable, widespread way, then Machine-Generated Data will become universally recognized as the key fuel for this wave.
Three. Smart Grids will amp up. Granted, we have been hearing this for a while. Green this, Smart that. The buzz "from the left" was all about eco-friendly renewable energy sources and vastly improved transmission and distribution systems. The buzz "from the right" was that "green initiatives" are over-hyped and over-rated. I am not weighing in here, other than to say that most of these initiatives require large-scale infrastructure investments and, as such, are logically going to take longer. But here's the thing. As the broader, Internet of Things market ramps with more widespread appeal, it attracts press, talent, resources, and money. Follow the money. It's what some call the "shiny penny" syndrome. People are naturally attracted to the "shiny penny." In the mid- to late-90s, the shiny penny was anything with a dot com label; in the mid-2000s, it was any Saas company. Going back to prediction one, it looks like it is, with good reason, becoming the Internet of Things or M2M (or the Semantic Web), along with "Big Data" with non-traditional database platforms used for specific use cases. Smart Grids are a very specific use case. It is not, by the way, renewable energy. It is managing the transmission and distribution of energy (and more) using a combination of sophisticated sensors working in conduction with mobile communication technology. That also largely describes the Internet of Things, and Smart Grids are a prime example of that. So I think people and organizations are hearing the call to action, and the result will be a dramatic increase in efforts around Smart Grids.
Four. Mobile Health may not be prime time, but will move beyond a glimmer in the eyes of a few startups. Mobile Health can take many forms, almost all are really cool. The ramp I expect to see in 2013 is also due to the rise in the Internet of Things and related technology to enable these services, and the money that stands to be made from these initiatives. If you Google "Mobile Health" or "Smart Health Technology" or other variations on this theme, you will see a variety of use cases ranging from senior-living monitoring tied to social networking to diabetic monitoring systems up to and including sensors embedded into underwear (held close the the skin by the elastic) which can activate a bluetooth link based on threshold alerts. Really, really cool stuff. And this will save a lot of money, and quite possibly, lives. And other examples run far and wide.
Five. Big Data does become mainstream, with wholesale changes with the dominant players. IBM, Oracle, SAP, Microsoft, SAP, EMC and to some extent Dell, Red Hat, and others will, because of many of the trends cited above, leave 2013 looking very different than they start it. There are many cool NoSQL startups that have next to no revenues but a growing base of followers and customers and a bright future. Companies with low revenue but high valuations have that for a reason. The momentum in Big Data is growing. A quick read of some of the great reports from the analysts I mentioned above provide great insight here. And while the conventional wisdom might suggest that this trend will eat into the bigger players revenues and margins, I have a different view. The impactions of Big Data are profound, for certain. It is absolutely true that Big Data solutions (like MongoDB, for example) could replace some instances of traditional installed databases. However, the big companies like Oracle and IBM are big for a reason. They have exceptionally large installed bases with exceptionally large revenues tied to that base and so much to lose by not paying close attention to this phenomenon. And these are not run by stupid people. IBM was quick to embrace Big Data, and clearly the Internet of Things. Oracle cannot afford not to engage, and they are. Same for Microsoft, EMC, and SAP. Dell is clearly looking to increase their margins by expanding their software efforts. This is no secret, and they seem intent on moving forward, and not as constrained by legacy database revenues that might make this more difficult for them. Red Hat is is a great place, as much of the Big Data wave is via open source offerings, and they cracked the commercialization code on open source. In short, this prediction is a function of the basic idea of following the money trail. This is where the money will be. As such, the big players will drive Big Data into the mainstream, because the have to. It just makes sense.
I could go on, but this is a blog, not an eBook. I will admit that most of my predictions are probably obvious to anyone who flows the industry. In that sense, it's more of a commentary than a set of predictions. But more than anything, it is a sea change in the evolution of technology. And in my mind, it's really, really cool.
From time to time, I participate in panels or give presentations about Infobright specifically, or trends in technology on a more general basis. While I truly love talking about what we do here at Infobright, my favorite scenario is a legitimate panel discussion. Noting that use of the word "legitimate" has become more controversial, perhaps I should explain further. Some panel discussions are opportunities for three or four people to give interspersed infomercials thinly veiled as a topical discussion. They often come across like playground banter I recall from the fourth grade: "Oh, yeah, well I can do that, only better". When this happens, it's clearly disappointing. It diminishes the panelists and insults the audience. "Legitimate," in my view, means a focus on various elements of a topic without the bias of a vendor view taking precedence. I find the open-source companies and their executives particularly inclined to these discussions, which is, in part, why I am so optimistic about the upcoming event.
This Wednesday night in Chicago, I will have the pleasure of participating in a panel discussion alongside 10Gen, MapR, and Sears Holdings in a discussion moderated by Peter Goldmacher of Cowen and Company (who has been covering Big Data for some time now) about demystifying Big Data. I can hardly wait. I am expecting the discussion to explore the specific use cases of when and where certain architectures lend themselves well, and the interplay between various technologies that can range from conflicting to synergistic. I think the importance of architecture itself will be discussed. I also think we will explore examples of where pursuit of Big Data has not panned out as well as expected and why. The event is being hosted by The Illinois Technology Association and will be in downtown Chicago. If you happen to be nearby on Wednesday evening, come join the discussion.