Don’t make a meal of Big Data

Big Data
(Image: IDG)

Information is being served at such a rate that storage and backup are more important than ever



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9 January 2017 | 0

Billy MacInnesA lot has been written about the vast amounts of data being generated in today’s world and how organisations are struggling to keep pace with it. In some quarters, this phenomenon has been described as a ‘data deluge’, people talk of ‘data lakes’ and others have accused businesses of ‘throwing storage’ at the problem. Essentially, the sheer volume of data being generated is swamping the ability of many organisations to manage it and make use of it.

Big Data and analytics have been pitched as a means to enable organisations to prioritise, access and analyse these increasing amounts of data and glean insights that can make them more responsive and efficient.

All well and good but it struck me the other day that maybe there’s another analogy that could be used just as effectively to illustrate how businesses and organisations are struggling to cope with the situation. I refer to the infamous Mr Creosote sketch from Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life. For those of you unfamiliar with it, you can find it here (warning: people with a sensitive stomach should be aware that this video contains casual vomiting and swearing).

While this may quite possibly be the first time that Mr Creosote has been used in a column about the IT industry, there are reasons why I think it is of some relevance. Imagine, for instance, that the waiter (John Cleese) is the IT industry selling technology to the customer (Mr Creosote), which generates ever increasing amounts of data (food). Eventually, the customer’s organisation becomes so stuffed with data that it has to vomit it out (backup and archive).

Where does the channel fit in this analogy? Well – those of a squeamish disposition should look away now – I hate to say it but partners are like the lady with the bucket.

And so, despite the best efforts of the channel to clean up the mess, the customer becomes increasingly bloated with data as the technology the organisation acquires continues to create ever more information at an even faster rate. It might be fanciful, but there could come a point where the customer isn’t able to vomit out the old data fast enough to make space for the new data the business is generating.

If, or when, that happens, kaboom! Just like Mr Creosote, it won’t be a pretty sight. And the clean up afterwards could be really ugly. But profitable? Now there’s the question.

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