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Thoughts on Strata Big Data Conference

· Big Data Zone

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In February I attended the O’Reilly’s Strata Conference, in Santa Clara, California where Pentaho was an exhibitor. I gave a 5-minute lightning talk during the preceding Big Data Camp “un-conference” on the topic, The importance of the hybrid data model for Hadoop driven analytics, focusing on the importance of combining big data analytic results with the data elements already in firm’s existing systems to give business units the answers to questions that were previously not possible or economic to answer (something that of course Pentaho now makes possible). I also sat down for an interview with Mac Slocum, Online Managing Editor at O’Reilly, you can see the video where we discuss what kinds of businesses can benefit from big data technologies such as Hadoop, and what is the tipping point for adopting big data technologies.

The high quality of attendees and activity at this sell-out conference I think further confirms that although development work on solutions for big data has been happening for a few years, this area is undergoing a quantum leap in adoption at businesses both large and small. Simply put this technology allows them to glean “information” from the enormous quantities of often unstructured or semi-structured data that in the past was simply not possible, or was eye-wateringly expensive to achieve using conventional relational database technologies.

I found that the level of “Big Data” understanding maturity among attendees was quite varied. Questions spanned the entire spectrum with a few people asking things like “What is Hadoop?” to many along the lines of “Exactly how does Pentaho integrate with Hadoop’s Map-Reduce Framework, HDFS, and Hive?” Some attendees were clearly still in the discovery and learning phase, but many were confidently moving forward with the idea of leveraging big data, and were looking for solutions that make it easier to work with big data technologies such as Hadoop to deliver new information and insights to their businesses. In fact, it is clear that the emergence of a new type of database professional: the data scientist is rapidly becoming mainstream. This person combines the skills of software programmer, statistician and storyteller/artist to extract the nuggets of gold hidden under mountains of data.

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