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Big data means big networks: how APAC enterprises can reap the benefits of big data analytics

Karl Horne, Chief Technology Officer, Asia Pacific, Ciena | Feb. 11, 2015
The combination of commodity storage and compute hardware, coupled with open source software and agile networks interconnecting data centers, make the promise of big data analytics a reality and not just an overused marketing term.

This vendor-written piece has been edited by Executive Networks Media to eliminate product promotion, but readers should note it will likely favour the submitter's approach.

Karl Horne, Chief Technology Officer, Asia Pacific, Ciena

At this year's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, the closing keynote by US Federal Trade Commission chairwoman Edith Ramirez highlighted how ubiquitous personal data collection was, as well as the responsibility that companies have to use the data that they collect. As big data is not just about marketing but also about collecting manufacturing data for better processes, improved product design, and other business-related priorities, Ramirez's choice of topic highlights the fact that companies worldwide are collecting terabytes of data on a daily basis, with the intention to analyse it to generate better business processes to achieve competitive advantage.

Back home, Asian enterprises and governments are continuing to invest in big data infrastructure projects that will keep the region's flagship cities at the forefront of world innovation. For example, the Hong Kong government plans to inject HK$5 billion into an Innovation and Technology Fund to support research and development activities into big data analysis technology, among other things, to provide better quality services and boost social and economic development. Meanwhile, the Singapore government recently announced the Smart Nation initiative that will bring together a nationwide sensor network and data analytics capabilities to provide better situational awareness through the efficient collection and sharing of data.

Through optimistic investment in big data platforms over the past year, most enterprises in APAC now collect vast volumes of data that properly mined can yield tremendous insights into consumer behaviour, manufacturing processes, or product performance. Analyst group IDC is projecting big data spending to grow by another 34.7% in Asia Pacific in 2015. IDC specifies that this spend will be focused on getting the returns from the investments already made -- how to analyse this vast amount of data to derive business value and competitive advantage. By performing intelligent analytics on structured and unstructured big data, companies across all industries can better predict industry trends and customer preferences, giving them significant competitive advantage. If they are unable to do this properly, disillusionment will set in and IT spend will be diverted elsewhere.

While enterprises have invested heavily in data collection, there has not been as much thought put into the massive computing and storage capabilities required for this scale of analytics, which far exceed the capabilities of the typical data centre in the region. Creating bigger and bigger data centres is expensive and has an unacceptably long lead time. The solution is for multiple data centres to work together to take advantage of aggregated compute and storage capabilities needed to properly analyse big data. However, the networks that interconnect geographically separated data centres today are 'rigid' in how they are designed and deployed, meaning access to other data centres is severely limited.


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