How Do You Know if Your Business is Not Wasting Money on Big Data?

Smart Big Data Strategy

While CIOs are urged to rethink of backup strategies following warnings from leading analysts that companies are wasting billions on unnecessary storage, consultants and IT solution vendors are selling “Big Data” narratives to these CIOs as a storage optimization strategy.


What a CIO must do is ask:

Do you think a Backup Strategy is same as a Big Data strategy?

Is your MO – “I must invest in Big Data because my competitor is”?

Do you think Big Data and “data analysis” are synonyms?

Most companies invest very little in their storage technologies, while spending on server and network technologies primarily for backup. Further, the most common mistake businesses make is to fail to update their backup policies. It is not unusual for companies to be using backup policies that are years or even decades old, which do not discriminate between business-critical files and the personal music files of employees.

Web giants like Facebook and Yahoo generally aren’t dealing with Big Data. They run their own giant, in-house “clusters” – collections of powerful servers – for crunching data. But, it appears that those clusters are unnecessary for many of the tasks which they’re handed. In the case of Facebook, most of the jobs engineers ask their clusters to perform are in the “megabyte to gigabyte” range, which means they could easily be handled on a single computer – even a laptop.

The necessity of breaking problems into many small parts, and processing each on a large array of computers, characterizes classic Big Data problems like Google’s need to compute the rank of every single web page on the planet.

In, Nobody ever got fired for buying a cluster, Microsoft Research points out that a lot of the problems solved by engineers at even the most data-hungry firms don’t need to be run on clusters. Why is that a problem? It is because, there are vast classes of problems for which these clusters are relatively inefficient, or a very inappropriate, solution.

Here is an example of a post exhorting readers to “Incorporate Big Data Into Your Small Business” that is about a quantity of data that probably wouldn’t strain Google Docs, much less Excel on a single laptop. In other words, most businesses are in dealing with small data. It’s very important stuff but it has little connection to the big kind.

Let us lose the habit of putting “big” in front of data to make it sound important. After all, supersizing your data, just because you can, is going to cost you a lot more and may yield a lot less.

So what is it? Big Data, small Data, or Smart Data?

Gregor Mendel uncovered the secrets of genetic inheritance with just enough data to fill a notebook. The important thing is gathering the right data, not gathering some arbitrary quantity of it.

Twitter @bigdatabeat