Big data and cloud computing technologies – which have made inroads in enterprises – are still yet to realise their full potential. So where should you focus your investments?
I'll discuss big data first.
Let’s start with a biggie – Google DeepMind, the artificial intelligence company. This offering will combine techniques from machine learning and systems neuroscience to build powerful general-purpose learning algorithms.
These ‘out of the box’ algorithms are expected to be capable of learning for themselves directly from raw experience or data.
As I write this article, Google DeepMind (Alpha Go) is winning Go match 3 of a 5 game series against a world master. This is a first and don’t expect this to be the last that you hear for DeepMind.
The reality is that with smaller data volumes, we discovered that enterprises struggled with data transformation. So it's not surprising that when the magnitude is increased, we still need such tools.
Data wrangling is what Trifacta does – it works with the various flavours of Hadoop such as Hortonworks, MapR, and Cloudera.
In short, Trifacta allows you to transform raw, complex data into clean and structured formats for analysis. This data wragglng can be up to 80 per cent of the effort required, so any help can only make the drive to insights faster.
Perhaps you don’t want to read about Domo, this is software-as-a-service that doesn’t need you. In essence, the service is designed to provide direct, real time access to business data without any IT involved.
Domo is already valued in the unicorn billion dollar range, so it is not going away quickly. Arguably, this is not big data, but creation of just another data store. My personal view is Domo is a slap in the face for IT for failing to tackle data management and integration in the past.
Here comes another slap for the right cheek. Segment is one place to collect customer data and send it to your tools for analytics, marketing automation, and raw data access with SQL.
Sound familiar? This is what you, as CIO, should have been doing in building a customer data vault over the last few years.
While Domo and Segment are hot – we as IT leaders have perhaps been guilty of being asleep at the wheel. But with DeepMind coming, perhaps the writing is on the wall.
Let’s move onto cloud technologies, which are still in the stage of growing maturity. Here’s a few solutions that help enterprises use the cloud in a more ‘grown-up’ fashion.
One hot product is Chef, an automation platform that will make DevOps work in your organisation.
Chef uses recipes to provide instructions on how components of infrastructure are to be deployed and configured. A recipe is stored on nodes and actually detail on how to configure databases, load balancers and web servers. These recipes work across on-premise, cloud or hybrid infrastructure models.
A really nice feature is that Chef can use compliance profiles with dependency management to ensure that changes to infrastructure and applications are propagated.
Perhaps due to the growing and unpredictable storage needs of big data, we have a need to bend and flex with demand and often at short notice.
Spotinst is a marketplace to allow cloud customers to bid on unused public cloud computing capacity.
Taking advantage of spot prices will enable enterprise cloud to be optimised. This can presently be deployed on Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Platform and Microsoft Azure.
New Relic has been around a number of years and as it is an application performance management APM tool for the cloud era – it’s yet to peak.
The product monitors web and mobile applications (Ruby, Java, .NET, Python, PHP) in real-time that run on cloud or on-premise. Just the sort of utility tool that you need as digitisation across the enterprise progresses.
Here is another great example of the growing maturity of the cloud. Cloudflare provides several handy tools to assist web performance and security management.
One feature distributes content around the world to speed up websites in particular to assist mobiles access. CloudFlare security works to protect those same cloud sites cyber threats including DDOS, spam, SQL injections.
When I reflect on big data and cloud, my sense is that we now dealing with the technology industry’s equivalent of teenagers on the cusp of maturity.
They are not quite adults and fully functioning but are maturing and have a growing need for different tools and utilities.
The question is no longer should we use big data or the cloud, but how do we use these technologies effectively? These tools certainly go a long way towards achieving that objective.
David Gee is the former CIO of CUA where he recently completed a core banking transformation. He has more than 18 years' experience as a CIO, and was also previously director at KPMG Consulting. Connect with David on LinkedIn.