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VMworld 2012: Location data will be Holy Grail for real-time apps, tech CEOs say

Tim Greene | Aug. 30, 2012
Big data could back a retail revolution for items as sophisticated as jet engines, a panel of CEOs from high-powered tech companies told a VM world audience.

San Francisco -- Big data could back a retail revolution for items as sophisticated as jet engines, a panel of CEOs from high-powered tech companies told a VM world audience.

Joe Tucci, CEO of EMC says most data is unstructured and may be located in public networks or those of partners. The challenge is to access it and perform real-time analytics on it to make better business decisions. He says the Holy Grail is location data that could revolutionize retailing by pushing coupons to consumers as they pass items in stores.

A prime example, says incoming VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger, would be the ability to push a beer coupon to a customer passing the cooler and an Advil coupon at the same time to deal with the impending hangover. Or notification of an ongoing data breach as a consumer was making an online transaction.

Business can look forward to making useful analysis of mountains of data that hasn't been collected yet but that is in the offing as traditionally isolated devices report their status online, says Paul Maritz, the outgoing CEO of VMware. For example, connected jet engines can be better cared for if anomalous vibrations are detected between regularly scheduled maintenance and problems are fixed before they cause disaster.

This same type of data could be used to create new sales models for jet engines, he says, citing an actual VMware customer. Rather than sell a device, the manufacturers could sell quantities of power to airlines and provide on-demand maintenance. That would require a type of social media involving devices to replace traditional business process workflows.

These comments came during a wide-ranging discussion among Tucci, Gelsinger, Maritz, Dell CEO Michael Dell and Tom Georgens, CEO of NetApp that was held in front of a packed auditorium at the conference.

The group agreed that security in virtualized environments presents challenges that require a new set of tools for setting limits on who can access what data.

Dell says the network boundaries separating companies are coming down, opening up corporations to new security challenges as personal mobile devices are used to conduct business. "Now it could be an employee device on a third party network using a third party application. Security has to be really closely paid attention to," he says.

The flip side, says Maritz, is that too much security means less functionality that is necessary to commerce. "We can no longer wall ourselves off, and we have to expose ourselves digitally in order to do business," Maritz says.

Not surprisingly, he advocates placing logical boundaries between data that needs to be kept separate such as software containers within phones to separate users personal data and applications from those used for business - tools his company makes.


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