Channel Makes Slow Progress in Big Data RaceBy Michael Vizard | Print
The challenge facing solution providers is not when big data projects will manifest themselves but if they will have the skills to seize those opportunities.
Big data will offer significant business opportunities—to one degree or another—for just about every solution provider in the channel. However, it just may be a little while longer before the projects that will drive those opportunities become more commonly deployed.
A recent study conducted by Dell Software found that the vast majority of IT organizations have some type of big data project under way. But the degree to which those applications are ready to be deployed in production environments is still fairly limited.
In addition, big data implies a lot of hardware to support multiple terabytes, even petabytes, of data. Yet most big data applications start out relatively small. In fact, hardware winds up being a small percentage of the overall solution.
"When it comes to big data, it's all about the algorithms," said Vik Mehta, CEO, VastEdge, a solution provider that is building big data applications used in heavy-machinery environments. "By being able to correlate data, we can figure out things like why a crane that costs millions of dollars is about to break because a $100 part is about to fail."
For a port, Mehta said the value of that crane goes well beyond the cost of replacing it. Without the crane, part of the port shuts down. Ships carrying millions of dollars in goods then get backed up in the harbor waiting for the crane to get fixed. For that reason, it is little wonder that Fortune 100 companies such as General Electric and United Technologies are leading the charge in terms of trying to monetize big data.
Right now, however, Mehta reports that hardware is a relatively small percentage of the total big data solution, which may help account for why the presence of big data projects is so uneven across the channel.
Where's the Demand, and Who Will Address It?
CentriLogic, a managed and cloud services provider that specializes in enterprise applications, has yet to see any big data application projects.
"As of yet, we haven't seen any demand for big data applications," said company CEO Robert Offley.
Similarly, Sam Kildare, vice president of sales and marketing for synergIT, reported that the solution provider hasn't seen any demand either.
"We have a lot of experience in data warehousing," said Kildare. "But as a company focused on small and midsize businesses (SMBs), we're not seeing any projects.
That doesn't mean there won't be sometime soon. Training will be crucial. For example, more than 3,500 people signed up for an online "Tackling the Challenges of Big Data" training course developed by the faculty at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Clara Piloto, one of the organizers at MIT Professional Education, each of the students that received a passing grade received a certificate from MIT and those that did well in the course also gained continuing education credits.
"Most of the students already had a degree in computer science," said Piloto. "The most interesting thing we found is that even though the course was online they still broke into their own study groups."
Not only will the course be taught again this fall and winter, Piloto said that next up MIT Professional Educations Services will be working with some major companies to create private instance of the online learning system MIT Professional Education through which they can train their employees.