Big data’s move to the cloud

A new survey shows the market is ready for cloud-based big data services.

Migrating_big_data_analytics_cover_lg_2One night when our son was two years old, he abruptly decided that he didn’t like taking baths. As my wife recalls, he struggled mightily against the ritual of bathing for several months until, suddenly and mysteriously, he decided that he liked bathing again. We’re happy to report that he has managed to stay relatively clean ever since.

When I speak with CIOs and other IT leaders about moving big data operations into the cloud, I am reminded of our son’s unexplained loathing of the bathtub.

Nearly everyone associated with IT understands that most IT operations — including big data analytics — must eventually move into the cloud. The traditional on-premises approaches are simply too costly, and CIOs are under crushing pressure to shift budgetary resources to value-added, customer-facing activities.

For most companies, the writing is already on the wall. The cloud offers greater agility and elasticity, and quicker product development cycles — and can reduce costs. When you add up the benefits, it seems inevitable that the bulk of IT operations will move into the cloud. Nevertheless, the foot-dragging and excuse-making continues.

The common reasons for avoiding cloud-based big data services include security, performance, lack of bandwidth, and loss of data accuracy. The cloud vendors I speak with are well aware of those obstacles, and they’re working hard to overcome them.

From my perspective as a writer who covers IT management trends, the reluctance to embrace the cloud seems to be based more on inertia than objective reasoning. For many CIOs, it’s easier to stick with the status quo — even if the status quo means spending more money than necessary.

It’s understandable that CIOs aren’t racing into the cloud. Nobody wants to be the first one into the pool. But my hunch is that the tipping point will arrive fairly soon, and there will be a sudden rush of companies looking to ink deals with cloud-based big data providers.

My hunch is supported by a recent survey of software developers, systems architects, engineers, data scientists, and data analysts conducted by John King, a data analyst at O’Reilly (you can read my report on the survey here). In the survey, King discovered that after a company has gained some experience using big data in the cloud, it is more likely to increase its use of similar big data services.

The survey also shows that roughly 40% of respondents who identify themselves as big data practitioners currently use cloud services for analytics and that roughly 55% of respondents who plan to become big data practitioners also plan to use cloud services for analytics.

Those findings indicate the market is ready for cloud-based big data services. I can’t predict exactly when everyone will start jumping into the pool, but it’s likely to happen sooner rather than later as CIOs race to shift limited IT resources from inward-facing operations to value-added, customer-facing activities.

CIOs and IT vendors have been talking for years about the importance of moving into the cloud. I’m guessing that within the next six months, the talk will turn to action and we’ll be wondering why everyone put up such a fuss for such a long time.

For more details on the survey results, download the free report, Migrating Big Data Analytics into the Cloud — compliments of Teradata.

This post is part of a collaboration between O’Reilly and Teradata exploring the use of cloud-based big data tools. See our statement of editorial independence.

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