The Centurylink Technology Solutions Blog - Trends in IT Infrastructure

Results tagged “big data” from The Centurylink Technology Solutions Blog


If you want to get Freudian about Big Data, though, you might notice that the word "oops" is nearly all in the name of the platform.  The truth is that Hadoop in its pure form can be quite challenging to get up and running, especially in a public cloud environment.  While the cloud offers many advantages of cost and flexibility for Big Data, doing Hadoop in the cloud unassisted is asking for a hassle unless you're a serious open source expert.  This is a problem we're solving.

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The public cloud can present an appealing option for organizations that want to take advantage of NoSQL and Big Data but are not willing to invest in physical data center infrastructure to make it happen.

The cloud offers a higher degree of flexibility and the ability to on-ramp a NoSQL project more rapidly than can usually be done on-premises. However, astute IT managers and their Line-of-Business (LOB) counterparts should be asking, "How much will it actually cost to do in the cloud?  Is it really less expensive than doing it on-premises?" Taking it a level higher, the manager might also ask, "What is the overall financial impact of doing NoSQL and Big Data in the cloud?"  

When Silicon Valley-based RMS wanted to introduce the global insurance industry to an entirely new way of analyzing real-time risk on-demand, it turned to the cloud and strategic IT services from CenturyLink Technology Solutions to create a robust infrastructure strategy that could bring its vision to market faster.

We talked with Paris Georgallis, SVP of cloud platform operations at RMS, about the technology trends and industry dynamics driving the company's decision to host its platform in the cloud:

Digital Customer Experience

Marketing has taken a dramatic turn in the last few years. The traditional "make and sell" model - where, after researching customer reaction to new products or advertising concepts, you create and push a series of campaigns - doesn't work anymore.


Now that consumers are continually connected via smartphones and constantly influencing others via social networks, that one-directional, linear approach is quickly giving way to interactive "sense and respond" digital marketing. In this real-time world, an organization must operate at the speed of consumers. To pull that off, you need to master two key emerging technologies: cloud and big data.

As big data continues to converge with other disruptive technologies, strategies to incorporate these tools into your existing infrastructure can play a significant role in determining your organization's competitiveness today and tomorrow.


CenturyLink Technology Solutions and MapR have deconstructed and demystified "the enterprise big data stack."


A large percentage of you are embarking on a common journey; data is growing at unprecedented rates and you are struggling to manage it. Surprising? Not at all given the number of applications and social media outlets that offer value solely based on flexible and instant access to data. However, a gap exists in the traditional Storage-as-a-Service (SaaS) offerings. You want to control storage costs, while also providing 24/7 access to the data. You also are concerned about security, power, compliance and return on investment (ROI) when evaluating storage infrastructure options.

It's exciting to see the industry begin to rally around a best-practice big data stack - a construct on which to build reference architectures for scalable, secure big data systems.


Open dialog on what constitutes "the stack," as recently explored in this article, increases the likelihood of developing repeatable processes that result in big data successes - and that's an outcome we should all be striving for.

Big data: From pocket cash to bankroll

One of the best parts of being in a technology space that has gone from grassroots to mainstream is enjoying a giggle and a giddy feeling of satisfaction when "the suits" show up. A giggle because we've all been waiting for them - what took so long? And satisfaction because the arrival of the suits signals the move to mainstream.


At this year's Strata Conference in Santa Clara, I was struck by the number of conversations I had and heard - eavesdropping is a recognized pastime at this show - about big data moving from proof-of-concept to production.

As 2014 gets into full swing, Hadoop is increasingly being used for applications that are integral to daily business operations. No longer is Hadoop viewed by some organizations as just a platform for big data proof-of-concept applications. IT leaders should be developing a strategy for production-ready infrastructure, now, so they are ready to leverage the emerging technical advances that make Hadoop more capable of supporting business-critical big data applications.

2014: A big year for big data

Making predictions is easy. Foretelling trends that actually come to pass can be more difficult--unless you're talking about big data. It's no surprise; as we kick off 2014, big data is making a big splash in the media. And as we look at technology drivers for this coming year, it's clear that big data initiatives will be front and center.


According to a new Forrester Consulting survey commissioned by Savvis,70 percent of IT decision-makers say big data analytics is or will be a key priority in 2014.

Four tech trends to remember in 2014

It's the New Year: A time to celebrate and take stock of the trends and opportunities paving paths to bigger, better things on the horizon.


At Savvis, we are ringing in 2014 with a look at the tech trends poised to impact the way businesses approach IT in the months ahead. Expanding on our recent 2014 cloud predictions, here are a few more developments our experts say to watch for:

Big data means a lot of things to different people. One technology service growing increasingly popular is data aggregation. This basically entails collecting large sets of data from many different sources and storing them all in a central location for people to use.


Some data-set offerings contain costs associated with collecting and storing large amounts of data. However, there are also many publically available data sets out there for businesses to use.

In 1999, Proctor & Gamble assistant brand manager Kevin Ashton presented an idea to his employer: improve supply-chain efficiency by linking RFID tags to the Internet. The title of this presentation coined the term we now know as "The Internet of Things."


At that time, no one could really understand how ubiquitous small data collectors would become in manufacturing, or that with the explosion of data, there would grow the need for new ways to collect, store and analyze it all.

Everywhere you look, people are talking about how to extract value from the massive, ever-growing troves of information residing within and beyond traditional data repositories. Information that, when fully leveraged, has the potential to radically improve decision-making and transform organizations.


Not too long ago, big data was relegated to discrete projects that IT spun up on an as-needed basis. But today, if you're not at least considering big data practices as part of your business strategy - and developing long-term plans to reliably support those initiatives - you're falling behind the curve.

If you browse most of the tech stories in the media today, a large percentage are triggered by a common scenario: Data is growing at unprecedented rates, and organizations are struggling to manage and protect it.


Surprising? Not at all, given the number of applications and social media ventures that offer value solely on flexible and instant access to data.

Industrializing big data

SaaSIcon_Larger.jpgIt's no secret that as companies' information assets continue to explode, the need to unlock the value of data grows more pressing.


This week, Intel announced the availability of the IntelĀ® Distribution for Apache Hadoop software (IntelĀ® Distribution), which will give more organizations the ability to make use of the vast amounts of data that are generated, collected and stored. I was pleased to participate in the event and extend a longstanding successful alliance with Intel and the other companies on stage.

Looking at mountain.jpgWhere will you be one year from today? Where will your IT organization be? What do you need to know to get there?


Last week, Savvis experts weighed in on what 2013 has in store for interoperability in the cloud, data centers that do more than house data, and growing pressures on developers and the financial industry, respectively.


Professional Services Icon'Tis the season for year-end reviews, and at The Savvis Blog, we're taking a look at the most-read trends and themes defining 2012: Big data. Disaster recovery. Mobility. And of course, cloud.

Financial Services IconFinancial services firms are increasingly facing the challenge of big data: Unprecedented quantities of structured and unstructured data stored in a variety of systems and formats.


Though "big" might mean hundreds of gigabytes for one company and hundreds of terabytes for another, all companies report that more data is coming in all the time from disparate systems. For example, in a recent survey from the Economist Intelligence Unit, 73 percent of respondents in the financial services industry say that data collection has increased in the last year.


Big data presents a big challenge for financial services firms. The sheer amount of storage required to keep it strains IT infrastructure, crowding physical storage capacity. Worse, big data overwhelms management capabilities.


In the same survey, nearly one-third of respondents admit to insufficient data governance practices. Due to the scale and heterogeneity of big data, firms often can't be completely sure that they've locked down compliance with regulatory and other requirements -- and this worries them, because they know that it opens them up to potential legal challenges.


Because big data is so unwieldy, companies are often not able to put it to use. The explosion of big data has affected all industries, but the capital market has its own unique set of issues, such as the need to capture time-series data and merge it with real-time event processing systems. This and other challenges unique to financial services complicates IT's struggle to deliver important data to the right people within an acceptable timeframe. Nearly one in four financial services respondents in the Economist survey said the vast majority of its company's data is untapped, and another 53 percent said they use only half of their data.


But though most financial services organizations aren't able to put big data to good use, they know that it has potential to be enormously valuable. The Economist Intelligence Unit survey shows a strong linkage between effective data management strategy and financial performance, with companies that use data most effectively standing out from the rest.


Savvis recently published a white paper that discusses these issues, including use cases that show how partnering with innovators can open new opportunities. Key areas addressed include:


- How effective management of big data can make a difference

- What's keeping firms from making the most of big data?

- How Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) providers can help to resolve technical challenges


Please click here to download the white paper.


Varghese Thomas is global head of financial services at Savvis.

The rapid growth of big data as a new category of "must have" solutions is hard to refute. Airport walls are now adorned with billboards selling the virtues of big data and almost every major IT provider has jumped onto the bandwagon to offer, or re-position, its products for this market. Case in point - I recently attended the Hadoop Summit and almost every major brand spoke about how it is leveraging and/or delivering big data solutions. Also, most of our customers are telling me that managing and harnessing their data assets are critical to the success of their companies.


The availability, accessibility and volume of data are growing exponentially while technical problems and business use cases are becoming more complex. Fortunately for companies, with these new technology solutions all data can more easily be visualized and analyzed in real-time and a paradigm for correlating and integrating information to create new insights is much more accessible.


Big data solutions allow customers to use their data to do even more powerful things than analyzing and modeling large volumes of information. These solutions allow all data types, including structured and unstructured, to be assessed and analyzed in new and unique ways. Equally important is the integration of legacy systems with social media data. Combining these solutions with virtualization and the cloud benefits can empower just about everyone in the business to affordably analyze large amounts of multi-structured data. For instance, big data solutions:


- Enable organizations to assess structured and unstructured data in their raw form and without the need to pre-model

- Remove the boundaries on what information can be analyzed

- Shorten the time-to-insight, especially as new data sources are added

- Improve the effectiveness of marketing and promotional campaigns by helping companies refine pricing models and lower overall customer acquisition costs

- Construct a complete picture of a company's customer to ensure the right message and products are being pitched to the best audience

- Combine transactional sales data with unstructured comments (e.g., product reviews) to provide insight into purchase behavior

- And much more


Given our customers' needs, we too are expanding our solutions to include big data capabilities. Recently Savvis entered a strategic agreement with Hortonworks, a leading commercial vendor providing innovation, development and support of Apache Hadoop. This agreement enables Savvis to offer cloud-based big data solutions for enterprises and provide customers with a way use our infrastructure with Hadoop to create valuable information through the searching, indexing and analyzing of sizeable quantities of information assembled from multiple sources.


What are you hoping to do with big data in your company? In subsequent blog posts, we will dig deeper into how cloud solutions can help with your data requirements.


Steve Garrou is vice president, global solutions management, at Savvis, a CenturyLink company.

Harnessing the Power of Big Data

While at eTail West, an industry trade show for retail, brand manufacturer and travel and hospitality firms, with SiteMinis, Savvis' mobile hosting solution partner, it became clear that "big data" has emerged as a hot buzzword and trend. Companies are beginning to see the challenges and opportunities in big data and looking to either be an earlier adopter or, at a minimum, pay attention to better understand this market and get ahead of the curve.

"Big data," in general, refers to data from both unstructured and structured sources, including machine-generated information (i.e., click stream activity, log data, network security alerts) and social media sources respectively. These information sources are generating data stores that are getting very large, growing and changing very quickly, and struggling to fit within traditional database architectures. Companies are realizing that the real advantage is not about just having the data, but harnessing it to gain big insights at a reasonable cost.

Luckily, today's alternative hardware delivery models, cloud architectures and open source software bring big data processing within reach. For brand manufacturers, retail and travel and hospitality firms, this is especially good news. In an increasingly competitive market, big data provides the visibility and insights to more effectively market to existing and potential customers. However, there are certain technical requirements companies must consider to capture the potential of their data resources. Technology requirements include policies related to privacy, security, intellectual property and liability in a global environment.

Savvis is currently working with clients on big data solutions and roadmaps so they can exploit the power of valuable data assets to strategically address business requirements. Clients want to better segment customers to more precisely tailor products and services, improve the development of next-generation products and services, and improve performance and reduce variability in business operations - better forecasting with real-time data, for example. By better tapping into the data resources a company collects, these strategic benefits are well within reach.

I encourage you to stay tuned as Savvis continues to evolve its big data solutions and offerings.

Steve Garrou is vice president, global solutions management, at Savvis, a CenturyLink company.