CEO Blog: Big Data. Big Brother. Big Issues.
This is the beginning of the series on the Top 10 area to probe when considering the Internet of Things. I am going in reverse order on the list, which turns out to be very timely given the news in the United States this week. And my apologies for the length of this. It's a hard discussion to address in an average-length blog.
Number 10. What are the key ethical considerations and political considerations regarding the Internet of Things?
This week it came out that the US government has been operating alongside nine very large and important companies (that we know of) in the world of online and mobile communications to track information about email and phone calls and other online activities. This subject brings back a raft of controversy surrounding the USA PATRIOT Act, and the subsequent warrantless wiretapping and evasion of the FISA court provisions. More than that, though, it calls into question the very nature of how each of us interacts with others and how much information about our private lives is exposed. I am not here with answers, but rather a growing list of questions. Here are the ones that immediately come to mind:
Just how much data and what specific data is being collected? While I am sure some people know this answer, I am not one of them. I do know the most basic answer is "a lot." Nothing in the recent reports suggest anything other than that the most aggressive views of what has been collected is probably less than what is actually being done. We know there are phone records: who you called, who called you, from where, when, for how long. It probably includes things like what type of handset you use, where you were during the call, where they were during the call, the carriers used, and more. This data probably then contributes to further analysis about the frequency of your calls with particular people, others who interact with the same people, where they are, etc. The data in itself is the fuel.
Why is the government doing this? The value is in the analysis of the data, which is really the stated goal anyway. Having data about what happened in the past is one thing. Using that data to determine what will happen in the future—unless some intervention takes place—is another. While one can question the sincerity of what is being communicated, it is quite plausible that information being gathered about phone calls, internet usage, emails, and file transfers can be used to detect patterns of behavior and predict future behavior. So to the extent that the NSA (or any agency or organization attempting to provide security or defense) can detect threats, they are able to provide greater security and protection.
Will The Internet of Things make the world safer or less safe? It is easy to conclude both. Again, the NSA, the CIA, and similar organizations around the world can make a case for making the world a safer place by understanding this information. If you are in the business of protecting anyone or anything, the more you know about potential threats, the better job you can do against them. That said, the world being more or less safe is really a function of who is gaining this information and what their motivation is. To say "knowledge is power" certainly applies in all directions. If a government, a company, or some other non-state-sponsored group decides they want to do harm and understands how to gain considerably more information and analyze that information, then aren't we less safe as a result? It would be hard to argue otherwise. This conclusion points out the imperative of safeguarding data. Furthermore, this discussion concerns phone records, emails, and file transfers—which are, arguably, a small subset of the scope of data which will be generated going forward with the Internet of Things. So, take the pontenial threat and magnify it…significantly.
Who else is doing this? Absent from the discussion regarding these NSA revelations is the question of who else might be collecting and analyzing this type of data. Why would one assume it is only the US government doing this? Or just governments, for that matter. The mega-players, ranging from the large mobile network operators to Facebook, Google, Apple, and others, all clearly can amass huge amounts of this type of data. And I think most people would be surprised by the amount of browsing and other online or mobile data that be collected by almost anyone. Look at the hundreds of companies in the adtech space that are doing online advertising, mobile advertising, online auctions, brand management, and a variety of other use cases consuming this data. Most are clearly motivated by the desire to make money rather than by a desire to inflict harm or invade privacy. Yet, the data is the data. In some countries, it is governed more strictly than in others; but accessing and analyzing this type of data is hardly the exclusive domain of the NSA.
What data can and might be collected in the future, and what are the tradeoffs associated with this data? This is where it gets really, really interesting. If you are spooked by call data records, then what about your energy usage, or your driving and walking habits, or your buying habits, eating habits, whatever? One of the things that is cool about the Internet of Things is that the world can become somewhat tailored and much more efficient to you as an individual, because the data can be understood and interpreted in the context of what makes your life better— from energy management to transportation to shopping and more. But in order for this to work, the data has to be there. And in the hands of the wrong people or organizations, it can certainly pose an increasingly large problem.
Will the Internet of Things allow markets to flourish, and in turn, people to flourish? Or will it allow the concentration of power and resources at the expense of many? There are many ethical and geopolitical issues associated with natural resource utilization and, I imagine in many ways data will be viewed as almost another natural resource. So controlling this data will be somewhat akin to controlling oil reserves or farmland or water access. The internet is filled with debates and examples regarding the disenfranching of people from their land and their rights to the land's riches. It is quite plausible that control of data will be viewed in a similar light. Will this fall to the more powerful governments? Will this be the domain of the mega-corporations? I am already beginning to find myself in conversations where the notion of the democratization of data is coming up. There will likely be much debate around how data is accessible, and by whom, and for what purposes. It has been said that "data is the new oil." I think that has a great deal of truth to it. And as with oil, there will be posturing, strong-arming, and certain power struggles around how data is controlled, utilized, and who the main beneficiaries will be over time.
Will it enhance the quality of life for all people, or a fraction of the population? This is the next obvious question following the discussion above. One could ask if all mankind benefits from more efficient energy delivery, or if all people enjoy longer lives due to increased mobile health capabilities. Will the average person gain back quality time due to more efficient traffic grids and smart cars? They should. But then again, many would argue that the poverty rates and the number of indigent people should not be near what they are in some of the wealthiest countries in the world. So, how the benefits of The Internet of Things are realized will be interesting to watch unfold. I can only hope that those beneficiaries run far and wide. In fact, in some ways, those who benefit the most could well be those in the world who have the least now. As energy delivery, healthcare delivery, food production all get better, one could argue that this should lead to a better world.
I hope it does. And I sincerely hope that we can play a small part in making that a reality.
CEO Blog: The Top 10 Areas to Explore When Considering the Internet of Things
I love lists.
50 ways to lose weight without trying. Top 10 money-saving ideas. The 4 essentials of grooming your bullmastiff. These lists can often be found in the tabloids at the grocery store checkout line. Personally, I have been drawn more to ones pertaining to technology, which are in far shorter supply, than diet lists or photo exposés on Kim Kardashian.
Still, I like lists anyway, as they tend to provide structured focus on certain topics. For me, that would be the Internet of Things. In fact, this list will serve as the framework for a series of blogs over the next few months that will drill into what I will now cover at a high level: namely the top 10 areas to explore about the Internet of Things. Here is my list:
- The far ranging implications of the Internet of Things. What does the Internet of Things really mean, and how might it manifest itself in reality? What are the far ranging implications of the Internet of Things and how should people be thinking about this in the context of the future?
- The future of mobile health. How will the Internet of Things enable healthcare improvements? Where will this happen? What are the component technologies and how will they work? What will be the implications to healthcare as we know it? Where are the signs of progress in that direction?
- The future of energy delivery, including smart grids. What are the key elements of smart grids and energy delivery (including water, oil & gas, and electricity) utilizing the Internet of Things? What are the implications of this? Where is there already evidence of progress? What are the challenges?
- What will a connected city really look like? What will be connected and how? What will be the implications? What are the challenges? Why will cities become connected and what does that really mean?
- What will smart vehicles look like? We have all heard about the Google smart car. What is a driverless car and how would it work? What are the component technologies that need to be incorporated? How practical is this today? What needs to happen to make this a reality?
- What are the biggest impediments to the Internet of Things? If the promise of the Internet of Things is so strong, then why are there impediments? What are they? How can they be overcome? What are the implications to these impediments in terms of time and money? What are some very real examples of these and how are they being addressed?
- What are the critical issues around governance for the Internet of Things? Where is this data produced? Who owns the data and why? What are the implications? Who controls the data, and to what end?
- What are the critical issues regarding security for the Internet of Things? What can be done to safeguard solutions in the Internet of Things? What risks are inherent to smart grids? Mobile health? Smart cities? Are we more or less vulnerable when the Internet of Things is a reality? What are the security issues for the average person?
- What are the economics associated with the Internet of Things? What does this Internet of Things represent financially? Where is the financial burden or savings realized? Why? What has to happen for the savings and return on investment of these systems to be realized? What assumptions are inherent to the financial projections regarding the Internet of Things?
- What are the key ethical considerations and political considerations regarding the Internet of Things? What will the Internet of Things mean for people? Will it allow markets to flourish, and in turn, people to flourish, or will it allow concentration of power and resources at the expense of the many? Will it make the world safer or less safe? Will it enhance the quality of life for all people, or a fraction of the population? How can the Internet of Things be considered in the context of a truly better world? What are the opportunities and challenges associated with that consideration?
I don't believe I am any smarter than the next guy when it comes to most of these issues, so much of my speculation needs to be framed as just that: speculation. I am going to try to explore these topics with some depth, rigor, and hopefully a great deal of objectivity. That said, this is too important not to explore. I invite you to not only follow this series, but weigh in. Nobody has a lock on good ideas or intelligent insights. I am looking forward to exploring this with you.
CEO Blog: Listening to Google’s Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen
I was intrigued this morning listening to Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen from Google. They have just authored a new book, The New Digital Age, which is about the world we are moving towards in the near future. This is an important topic for me, as I have been increasingly captivated over the last three years by the emergence of M2M and The Internet of Things.
At first my interest was strictly parochial. Infobright offers a solution to store and analyze machine generated data with unique capabilities. The Internet of Things is fueled by machine generated data, so I was naturally interested. Then I began to appreciate the implications of this. Mobile health. More efficient energy delivery (and consumption). Automation that makes the average person's life easier—from smart homes to smart vehicles to smarter cities that have better traffic systems and smarter infrastructure. The list goes on. This isn't just cool, it's life changing.
But the other dimension of this transformation, which I have not paid as close attention to, is the trend around the Internet of People; and the intersection of the Internet of Things with the Internet of People. It is not only a more connected, more efficient world, but a more informed one. As Eric and Jared pointed out, the bombings in Boston offered a small glimpse into this transformation—the massive volume of photos and videos from mobile phones at the scene helped police identify the perpetrators, and the cell phone left in the carjacked vehicle allowed police to track the vehicle with precision.
The other point they made, which I believe to be true, is that this is happening faster than most can imagine.
CEO Blog: Underneath the Exxon Oil Spill Discussion
This probably seems like a radical deviation from the expected technology blog. Maybe we are getting political? Perhaps environmental activism? No, and no. Not here.
That said, I am very intrigued by the conversation surrounding this event. In an interview, one evacuee seemed certain that this was foreshadowing more tragedy in terms of oil spills associated with pipeline failures, especially regarding tar sands oil which is shipped in a more corrosive state (bitumen). Others weighed in, for and against. From a political, as well as environmental, vantage point, I found the discussion interesting.
However, what piqued my interest was the commentary about the future, and the comparison of what happened this week to what could likely happen in the future. Specifically, that future pipelines would be made of a different material, presumably much more durable, hardened steel, that would make corrosion and failure less likely. I don't know enough to argue that, but it seems plausible. The other reference I thought was interesting was the notion that the infrastructure would be smarter. On this, I completely agree.
The instrumentation of everything from the truck that spilled in Minnesota to the pipeline that failed in Arkansas will be far, far greater in the near future. It will range from sensor technology monitoring transport mechanisms to robots inspecting the inside of pipes. This is all possible today, and as the costs come down and the imperatives go up—which clearly they are—what is possible quickly becomes what is practical, which in turn becomes reality.
So, I do believe the pipelines of the future will be better. I think they will not only fail less, but when they do, they will provide ample warning to minimize disruption and harm to the environment. This is a function of the Internet of Things. This is fueled by Machine Generated Data. Setting politics and environmental views aside, the discussion is a stimulating one, where a very real world incident gives us a very real glimpse into the possibilities of this new world at our doorstep.
The Three M’s: Monash, The Magic Quadrant, and Machine Generated Data
When I was in high school I found myself quite attracted to a girl mainly because I found her incredibly smart and thus, to me, also incredibly interesting. I had a friend who found her attractive, yet was turned off by the "brainy thing." I guess beauty, in whatever form, has always been in the eye of the beholder. My view is to embrace what you believe, yet welcome all interpretations without apology for that belief. Such is the discussion which has unfolded about Infobright between Curt Monash and the Gartner Group. At the center of this discussion is our focus on machine-generated data. Curt sees this as enabling our rise as a company, and the Gartner views it as limiting. My view? Yes.
Yes to Curt. Our focus fuels a momentum that is now clearly increasing. Our challenge is to keep up with our momentum without compromising the support of our customers. But this is a good problem to have. We have great momentum in ad-tech. We have great moment in financial services. We have great momentum in log management. And we have really great momentum with the companies whose applications service the mobile network operators. This all machine-generated data, and we are really good at it. We are also really focused on it. And to Curt's point, it is driving our success.
Yes to Gartner Group. It is limiting. Because we focus here, we are not going to be a general-purpose data warehouse vendor and as such, we will not be displacing Exadata, Netezza, Vertica, Sybase IQ or other general-purpose solutions. Unless, of course, those general-purpose warehousing solutions were purchased, and are being used, for storing and analyzing machine-generated data. If that's the case, then, well, perhaps we will. In fact, we are. And the reason is clear: when it's machine-generated data, we have—as Gartner Group points out—a great combination of excellent performance and superior compression. This also results in an extremely low total cost of ownership—especially in comparison to general-purpose solutions. We get there by making assumptions about the data structure that gives us an advantage. And when that is the case, our customers gain that advantage. We are just fine with that. So the "limitation" is very real, but we embrace this "limitation."
And as it turns out, the same underlining assumptions about the structure also make us a really great companion technology to Hadoop and other NoSQL environments, and well as for use in EPM. Here, too, we have many, many success stories.
And one last thing. Different people and groups debate the importance of machine-generated data and the degree to which M2M and the Internet of Things will impact our world. We fall into the true believer camp. We think the Internet of Things is not only going to happen, but it will truly be the next really big thing. A stroll through any of the eight buildings and 1,700 vendors at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona would re-enforce this view to anyone who roamed through the conference. And the underlying fuel of this trend is most definitely machine-generated data.
So Yes to Curt, and Yes to Gartner Group. The "brainy girl" might be appealing to some, and less to others, but at the end of the day, she is who she is. As are we.
Reflections on Mobile World Congress 2013
After Mobile World Congress, I elected to remain in Europe for other business, and thus spent last weekend basically recovering from a whirlwind week. MWC continues to gain momentum. This year there were over 72,000 people there, with over 1700 exhibiting vendors. I believe the momentum at the conference is because the world of the mobile network operators and their supporting cottage industry of vendors is intersecting now with the broader world of the Internet of Things. Evidence of this is everywhere. The booths of Gemalto, Telit, Jasper Wireless, and other M2M players were packed throughout the show. Then there are the market’s mega players. From the mobile side, that would be Cisco, Nokia Siemens Networks, Ericsson, Alcatel Lucent, Huawei, and others. The device side includes, first and foremost, Samsung, as well as Fujitsu, HTC, ZTE, and others. Then there are the big technology stack providers, including IBM, Oracle, HP, SAP, and others. Noticeably absent every year is Apple, given their huge impact on the market, but that seems to be viewed as an opportunity by Samsung, if the size of their presence is any indication.
So with 1700 vendors, do you suppose there were any common threads? By in large, yes, and this was more than obvious. The Internet of Things. The Semantic Web. M2M. In short, it is the connected world. The common thread was that you could walk into Ericsson, IBM, Fujitsu, or for that matter, many of the 1700 vendors there, and see displays about connected cities, smart grids, mHealth, smart cars, etc. The innovation was cool, and the momentum was evident. GSMA sponsored the "Connected City", with several suppliers taking part. I was able to watch a very compelling smart city demonstration by Ericsson, then walk over to a smart Volvo, then see wired cabinetry in the Vodaphone room. And if that wasn’t enough, the show featured booths from the likes of Ford, Corning, and Caterpillar—not exactly head-on threats to Oracle, but companies who see value in engaging in the connected world nonetheless.
I had a very interesting conversation with one of the primary M2M suppliers where we discussed this momentum. There is no doubt this trend was evident in 2012. But the significant increase in the number of vendors framing their messaging in this light suggests we are moving from a point where all of these concepts, from smart grids to mobile health and more move from what is possible (which they all are today) to what is practical. Because technology is possible does not mean widespread adoption, and it never has. But when the cost and the ease of deployment shifts so that implementation of a particular technology becomes practical in an economic sense, we start to see widespread adoption.
The Internet of Things is on its way. There is no doubt in my mind. And I would be surprised if any one of the 72,000 people at MWC this year did not share that view.
CEO Blog: Top 5 Reasons to go to Mobile World Congress in Barcelona
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.
CEO Blog: Correcting the Record
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.
CEO Blog: My Top Five Predictions for 2013
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.
CEO Blog: Big Data in the Windy City
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.