As Bob Dylan famously wrote back in 1964, the times, they are a changin’. And while Dylan probably wasn’t speaking about the Fortune 500’s shifting business models and their impact on enterprise storage infrastructure (as far as we know), his words hold true in this context.

Many of the world’s largest companies are attempting to reinvent themselves by abandoning their product-or manufacturing-focused business models in favor of a more service-oriented approach. Look at industrial giants such as GE, Caterpillar or Procter & Gamble to name a few and consider how they leverage existing data about products (in the case of GE, say it’s a power plant) and apply them to a service model (say for utilities, in this example).

The evolution of a product-focused model into a service-oriented one can offer more value (and revenue) over time, but also requires a more sophisticated analytic model and holistic approach to data, a marked difference from the traditional silo-ed way that data has been managed historically.

Transformation

Financial services is another example of an industry undergoing a transformation from a data storage perspective. Here you have a complex business with lots of traditionally silo-ed data, split between commercial, consumer and credit groups. But increasingly, banks and credit unions want a more holistic view of their business in order to better understand how various divisions or teams could work together in new ways. Enabling consumer credit and residential mortgage units to securely share data could allow them to build better risk score models across loans, for example, ultimately allowing a financial institution to provide better customer service and expand their product mix.

Early days of Hadoop: compromise was the norm

As with any revolution, it’s the small steps that matter most at first. Enterprises have traditionally started small when it comes to holistically governing their data and managing workflows with Hadoop. In earlier days of Hadoop, say five to seven years ago, enterprises assumed potential compromises around data availability and efficiency, as well as how workflows could be governed and managed. Issues in operations could arise, making it difficult to keep things running one to three years down the road. Security and availability were often best effort – there weren’t the expectations of  five-nines reliability.

Data was secured by making it an island by itself. The idea was to scale up as necessary, and build a cluster for each additional department or use case. Individual groups or departments ran what was needed and there wasn’t much integration with existing analytics environments.

With Hadoop’s broader acceptance, new business models can emerge

hadoop_9_resizeHowever, last year, with its 10-year anniversary, we’ve started to see broader acceptance of Hadoop and as a result it’s becoming both easier and more practical to consolidate data company-wide. What’s changed is the realization that Hadoop was a true proof of concept and not a science experiment. The number of Hadoop environments has grown and users are realizing there is real power in combining data from different parts of the business and real business value in keeping historical data.

At best, the model of building different islands and running them independently is impractical; at worst it is potentially paralyzing for businesses. Consolidating data and workflows allows enterprises to focus on and implement better security, availability and reliability company-wide. In turn, they are also transforming their business models and expanding into new markets and offerings that weren’t possible even five years ago.

Keith Manthey

CTO of Analytics at EMC Emerging Technologies Division
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