If you are in IT in Asia Pacific, chances are you would have considered big data for your enterprise - one of the most discussed IT terms in Asia over the past 12 months. Analyst firm IDC has predicted that the Asia Pacific big data market is expected to grow from US$258.5 million in 2011 to US$1.76 billion in 2016. However, analysts expect that while interest in big data is strong in the region, vendor hype and a lack of understanding could drive "irrational exuberance and unreasonable expectations".
Before you embark on defining a big data strategy for your business, you need to first understand the concept and the way it actually applies to your business. Wikipedia defines big data as 'a collection of data sets so large and complex that it becomes difficult to process using on-hand database management tools.' This trend has come about because organisations have realised the value of the insights that can be gained from analysis of a single large set of related data, allowing correlations to be found that can help spot business trends. It is therefore the analytics aspect of big data that really benefits the business.
Big data is not just for research and meteorology - it is clear that most businesses can benefit from it. In the UK, for example, supermarket chain Tesco is analysing its huge data sets of customer behaviour information collected in its Clubcard loyalty scheme to determine promotions and price adjustments.
IDC has observed that Asia Pacific has markets with unique traits, such as population 'mega centres,' distributed manufacturing hubs, and fluid regulations on data sharing, which are creating significant new opportunities with big data. However, in Asia, many of the big data initiatives under way in enterprises centre on building big data repositories. While an important first step, this won't allow organisations to realise the true benefits of the concept. Purchasing all the servers required to process and mine the data - even though that processing may only be required a few hours a week or month - is costly and will lead to resources not being fully utilised at other times.
The power of three
To make economic and strategic sense, CIOs in Asia must combine the power of the three IT megatrends - big data, virtualisation and the cloud. Virtualisation and the cloud are enablers of putting big data to use - making it possible to create large and highly automated pools of computing that can scale up and down with the volume of data to be processed. Combined, these will create a flexible, scalable and intelligent foundation for big data applications.
Thus, enterprises can economically "lease" a virtually limitless capacity of storage from cloud providers in the form of Infrastructure-as-a-Service, paying only for what they use. So the problem of storage and processing capacity is solved.
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