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CIO Review >> Magazine >> April - 2013 issue

Innovation Surrounds the Less Dense Sources of Big Data

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Headquartered in Mountain View, Exablox provides hybrid converged storage appliance that provides scale out expansion and cloud integration to enterprises. Founded in 2010, the company has raised a total funding of $22 million from DCM, Norwest Venture Partners and US Venture Partners.

One of the hottest trends right now is the relentless drive in every business for more and better information to steer growth strategies. There is a growing recognition that information is like gold to a company and if information is gold, data is like the raw ore from which that information is distilled.

As individuals information helps us make better decisions, work more productively, live fuller lives. Business people use information to establish advantages against their competitors, and as companies have gotten better and better and using information as part of a competitive arsenal, the drive to collect and extract ever-increasing information has become a strategic imperative.

So What's the next Frontier for Information?
Like the early gold hunters, the easy deposits of information have been played out. The "rich ores" of almost pure information have been harvested already. Structured data – the easiest place to mine for information, is pretty well understood. However, there are huge amounts of innovation surrounding the less dense sources of information found in unstructured "big data".

Just because this data is less information-dense, does not mean that it is "information-poor", it just means that there is a lot of usage of it in order to extract the business insights that make it so valuable. That is why it is called big data.

The challenge with big data is that it can be really big. According to a recent statistic in the Wall Street Journal, some of the largest data collections in the 1970’s and 80’s were measured in the 10’s to hundreds of Gigabytes. The same article discusses data repositories of the most recent decade that are using tens to hundreds of petabytes of storage to run their business. That translates approximately to a factor of 1,000,000 over the last 30-40 years or a rough doubling of storage requirements every two years over that time period.
Companies are staggering under this burden. File systems that were designed 20-30 years ago struggle to handle data loads that are a million to a billon times larger than what was common when they were conceived.

Fortunately, people have recognized that there is so much value to be found by harvesting big-data, that there are whole new segments of solutions being created that allow companies to deal with this deluge of data.

Entrepreneurs need to fit in the New World
The challenge for entrepreneurs is to figure a way to fit into this new world. With new found recognition of the potential value of each scrap data, companies are increasingly eager to collect, analyze, store and preserve every byte they can. While large businesses struggle with multi-petabyte data sets, even small businesses deal with the 10-plus terabyte data sets that were the province of only the largest enterprises just a decade ago. So, answering the question of "How do we help companies manage, protect and make sense of this ocean of data?" poses as a challenge.