Big Data is just hype, according to a Dell vice president

Company spending on Big Data solutions doesn't match its hype

Big Data might be one of the more common buzzwords doing the rounds, but it's nothing more than hype -- at least for now -- according to Dell’s vice president of Enterprise Solutions, Asia Pacific and Japan.

“Few companies are actually implementing any Big Data solutions ... I think today it’s more hyped than reality,” Philip Davis told analysts at a briefing in Sydney this week.

Davis said people are still defining what Big Data is and vendors are adding to the confusion by repackaging systems they’ve had in place for years as ‘Big Data’ “because everybody wants to look like they’re on the cutting edge [and] everybody wants to look like they’re innovative”.

However, he said the general definition of Big Data refers to large data sets which change quickly and need to be analysed and actioned in a short space of time. While it is a concern for some organisations on how to do this, Davis said the IT spend is still largely being allocated to traditional business intelligence solutions.

“If you look at the amount of press that’s been written about it, versus the actual spend on it, it’s still relatively limited,” Davis said.

Rodney Gedda, senior analyst at Telsyte, said Davis had a point and although Big Data is on the radar of some organisations, most companies don’t have a need for Big Data.

“To give you an example, if you’re an energy company – a utility – you might need to take a data point every 10 minutes from, say, all your subscriber’s smart meters. If there’s a million meters then you’re collecting 6 million data points every hour,” Gedda said.

“That’s why organisations need Big Data, because they need to have Big Data tools to manage massive amounts of data points that come into their organisation to make business sense out of it and traditional tools might not be capable of doing that. But as you can probably imagine, the use cases aren’t really commoditised yet.

“They’re not that popular to the extent that you’re going to see every company out there rushing towards a Big Data solution because there’s no need – they’re just not collecting as much data to warrant the investment.”

However, Davis believes Big Data could become more mainstream in two or more years.

“Just a year and-a-half ago there was so much hype around Cloud but low actual spend, we’ve certainly seen the spend on Cloud services accelerate, again, particularly in that more small medium business space. We’ve seen a lot more investment around private Cloud, and that’s really accelerated and I think Big Data is going to follow that same trend,” he said.

Davis said Cloud has now reached the point where it is at the peak of the hype curve and he is witnessing large enterprises moving aggressively into private Cloud instead of public Cloud. However, he said the move into Cloud is being held back by a fear of the unknown in regards to legislation around Cloud.

“I was in Korea about four weeks ago and what surprised me in Korea is apparently the lower house there has passed a bill – it’s not law yet, but a bill – that all government institutions must keep their data in their private Cloud behind their own firewall,” he said.

“Imagine if you’re a progressive educational institution aggressively adopting private Cloud and all of a sudden [that happens].

“In the last six months we’ve seen a lot of fear of going into the Cloud. They don’t know what legislation might get enacted three, six or nine months down the track.”

Gedda warns that not all data is the same and shouldn’t be treated as the same. For example, even in highly regulated industries such as government, data might include citizen data with personal details and it can also include a public facing website where there are a lot less restrictions on where it is hosted.

“I think that it’s really dependent on the type of industry and the type of application,” he said.

Follow Stephanie McDonald on Twitter: @steph_idg

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU

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