“We’re entering a new world where information is essentially going to be the currency of the global enterprise,” Jean-Luc Chatelain, the new executive vice president of strategy and technology at Data Direct Networks and former Hewlett-Packard executive, said in an interview with SiliconAngle CEO John Furrier on his new Webcast program, Extraction Point. “I joke that one day we will see a megabyte of information being counted in Singapore. It is the currency of today’s enterprise, and DDN’s assets are well-positioned to re-leverage the inflection points.”
Computers and mobile devices such as iPads and smartphones are generating huge amounts of data, much of it semi-structured or unstructured, but all of it revelatory of consumer desires, customer needs, employee actions, and investor concerns. And, he says, it is not just computers. Every time someone puts a coin in a vending machine, it triggers a GPRS radio to send out data. In many cities worldwide you cannot cross the street without being captured on camera. Your electric meter at home is now a smart meter that is constantly communicating to the power company. A “nuclear explosion of information” is taking place and is forcing the convergence of storage and compute power and changing how we handle data.
“We’ve given voice to the machine; and we've made computers highly mobile and highly interactive,” he says. “And they have a lot to say. And today, most enterprise are not ready to listen.”
He sees DDN as positioned in the center of this change, which is why he moved there from HP. It has built a reputation on providing storage for high-performance computing and rich media. The cloud is its natural market. This, he argues, makes its products well-suited to help the enterprise swallow that huge volume of information and do something with it.
But, he says, to fulfill this vision DDN must move beyond specialized storage systems to combine storage with compute capabilities. Sending a 10 terabyte video file across a network from the storage system to a server supporting editing or analysis is extremely costly in time, dollars because bandwidth is not free, and storage. The answer, he says, is the Hadoop model of sending the editing or analysis code to the video file and then doing the compute operations inside the store, and that requires storage systems with built-in processing power to handle those operations.
“Analytics is what changes a business,” he says. “If you can do it quickly enough, you can make decisions in real time on changing aspects of your business to capture new customers or retain more of those you have today.”
This, he says, is in direct contrast to most of the analytics done today, which is backward looking and focused on creating reports from the last quarter or year. One problem with that, is that it builds in a long reaction time between the actual transactions being analyzed and any actions the enterprise may take as a result. And the focus solely on structured data severely limits the kinds of questions that can be answered.
Today it is no longer enough to analyze how the enterprise did financially last quarter. To be successful, it must answer questions such as “Why are a significant portion of our customers unhappy with our service and support?” And it must do that in as close to real time as possible to allow the enterprise to meet customer expectations or needs that may at times change very rapidly.
“Context is what transforms data into information,” he says. “That data is extremely rich and varied. It’s not just your classic, old school, transactional data but also, for instance, instructional data and social data. And from that data you want to construct insight, and from that insight, you want to create new results for your business.”
Action Item: CIOs should start planning for the demands of the big data age, which will require storage with compute capabilities built-in to run analytics and other code on very large data objects.