I have heard a lot over the past year or more about “Big Data” and “The Cloud.” At first I thought maybe this was a new Clint Eastwood movie – like “Thunderbolt & Lightfoot.” But upon further edification, I found out the terms really relate to computer services delivered over the Internet and technologies to economically capture the value from data at an extreme scale.
The “cloud” has been around for a while and is becoming an increasingly popular approach for handling computer services. If you have an e-mail account with Gmail, Hotmail or Yahoo, then you have already been using the cloud. These services maintain the software and storage for e-mail in their “cloud” and not on your computer. The name – cloud – comes from the use of a cloud symbol as an abstraction for the complex infrastructure it contains.
When cloud computing services first started to appear, there were valid concerns about security and privacy of information. While those still exist, they have been largely mitigated as the companies providing these services are investing huge sums to make sure there are not problems, and their reputations rely on making sure their customer information is protected.
In addition, anyone who maintains their own computer software and hardware faces the same
issues of security and privacy. It’s not like the bad guys are only going after certain servers or operations. Everyone with a computer today is susceptible to those threats. And since cloud computing services can provide significant cost savings and efficiencies, businesses would be foolish not to evaluate this option. We recently acquired a new AMS system for TSCPA that is a cloud-based product.
“Big data,” on the other hand, is a more recent phenomenon. The term relates to datasets whose size is beyond the ability of typical database software tools to capture, store, manage and analyze. And there is certainly a growing torrent of data in our world.
According to Forrester Research, we are expected to hit a volume of 2.7 zettabytes of global digital data this year. (A zettabyte is equal to one sextillion bytes. As of 2009, the World Wide Web was estimated to contain close to 500 exabytes. That is only a half a zettabyte!)
There are many experts who think that ongoing data growth will outperform Moore’s Law over the
next few years. So the data will just keep rapidly growing. The key issue with big data is not that there is so much data out there, but rather how it can be harnessed to provide value.
The elasticity of the “cloud” provides the means for storing large sets of data and moving forward, we will see a growth of more advanced tools for analyzing and using this data in all sectors of our economy. We will see more companies take advantage of big data to analyze information to get a competitive advantage.
“Big Data and the Cloud.” It’s not a movie – but it is soon coming to your town.