Most people understand that big data and analytics can have a positive impact on their business. What trips them up is how to make that happen. EMC’s answer to that complex challenge is the EMC Business Data Lake, the industry’s first fully engineered, enterprise-grade data lake that’s redefining big data. For details, check out the virtual launch event.
I spoke with Aidan O’Brien, Senior Director of EMC’s Strategic Big Data Initiative, and asked him why he’s excited about EMC Business Data Lake and why it sets precedence in the world of big data analytics.
1. What are extraordinary outcomes companies may achieve with big data analytics?
There are many well-understood examples already. A great one is Rolls Royce. Instead of selling their high-end jet engines, they practically give them away and sell an associated multi-year data-driven service contract.
The service contract helps customers minimize downtime if there’s a problem with components in the engine. Each component has sensors that capture performance and health data along with the aircraft’s coordinates. That’s all fed in real time to an analytics system at the company’s global service center. If any component performance abnormality is detected, the system kicks off an automated logistics process that ensures that the replacement part is shipped to the right gate even before the plane lands at its destination.
This returns planes to the air faster so airlines can get back to making money. In the meantime, Rolls Royce has found an innovative way to strengthen their customer relationships.
What’s extraordinary about this, and many other similar examples, is that business value has so clearly shifted from the inanimate objects that customers produce to the data about that product.
2. You speak to customers often about the power of big data analytics, but what are their key challenges in embracing big data?
The challenges vary based on an organization’s maturity level with big data. While every customer’s big data journey is unique for various business and technology reasons, we generally group companies into one of three buckets.
First are companies in the exploratory phase. They’ve heard about big data and are trying to work out what it is, how it’s different from business intelligence, what skills they need, and so on. The big challenge for these folks is figuring out how to identify the right opportunity to get started.
Some companies are a little farther along and have big data projects springing up all over the place. Their prime challenge is how to show meaningful value to the business from their various initiatives.
Then there are companies achieving big results with big data. Their challenges relate to making the necessary changes across people, process, data, and technology so that transformation and improved business performance stick.
3. Why do you think EMC’s approach is appropriate for these companies?
What excites me about our approach is that we have an engineered solution and a range of services offerings that can help companies address the challenges at each phase of their big data journey.
For example, when first starting out on a big data journey, companies usually want to understand exactly what is possible and then identify and focus on key use cases. That’s what EMC’s Big Data Vision Workshop is all about. It gets IT and business stakeholders on the same page so they can prioritize use cases that are feasible and expected to deliver meaningful outcomes for their business.
Companies trying to get their hands dirty and build skills in data science, machine learning and rapid application development can use our Proof of Value Service. This helps them deploy a small but viable analytics project to demonstrate ROI for a target use case.
And for more mature companies struggling to manage and scale their big data infrastructure, we offer EMC’s Technology Onboarding Service. This includes consulting and deployment services to move them quickly to the EMC Business Data Lake.
We also see a number of more mature companies already knowing the business application they want. For these customers, we look to engage them via the Pivotal Labs group. That engagement also tends to lead to the implementation of the underpinning EMC Business Data Lake.
4. How does the Federation Business Data Lake accelerate adoption of big data analytics to achieve these kinds of results?
EMC Business Data Lake enables more people to benefit from big data quickly and effectively. We see customers struggling for weeks and months to instantiate these complex environments.
The EMC Business Data Lake is a platform that delivers greater standardization to help people stand up them up more quickly. Yet it also provides flexibility by letting people select the different technology products they need to deliver on a particular use case. As much as we’re seeking to make the job of the IT operator easier, the ultimate goal is to provide a self-service big data environment for the wide variety of people involved in big data, including data scientists, application developers, and line-of-business analysts.
5. What makes the EMC Business Data Lake unique?
Clearly, being the first fully engineered, enterprise grade business data lake in the industry is important, as is its ability to bring together data, analytics and applications. To me, what makes the EMC Business Data Lake stand out the most is the way it combines our top Federation technologies with the ecosystem of third-party products.
Because it’s built on a platform that embraces third-party technologies, new products can be easily embedded into the platform and made available to developers or data scientists almost immediately. Being able to evolve big data analytics environments over time as technology changes is critical. Traditional, physical infrastructures simply aren’t agile enough to keep up with that pace of technology change.
The prospect of EMC and the Federation being able to keep up to date with the rapid change in the big data market is why I’m so excited about the EMC Business Data Lake.