Welcome!

@BigDataExpo Authors: Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White, Harry Trott, Scott Allen, Pat Romanski

Related Topics: @BigDataExpo, Java IoT, Microservices Expo, Containers Expo Blog, @CloudExpo, SDN Journal

@BigDataExpo: Article

Archiving the Big Data Old Tail

At any point in time, half of your Big Data are more than two years old

Scenario #1: out of the blue, your boss calls, looking for some long-forgotten entry in a spreadsheet from 1989. Where do you look? Or consider scenario #2: said boss calls again, only this time she wants you to analyze customer purchasing behavior...going back to 1980. Similar problem, only instead of finding a single datum, you must find years of ancient information and prepare it for analysis with a modern business intelligence tool.

The answer, of course, is archiving. Fortunately, you (or your predecessor, or predecessor's predecessor) have been archiving important-or potentially important-corporate data since your organization first started using computers back in the 1960s. So all you have to do to keep your boss happy is find the appropriate archives, recover the necessary data, and you're good to go, right?

Not so fast. There are a number of gotchas to this story, some more obvious than others. Cloud to the rescue? Perhaps, but many archiving challenges remain, and the Cloud actually introduces some new speed bumps as well. Now factor in Big Data. Sure, Big Data are big, so archiving Big Data requires a big archive. Lucky you-vendors have already been knocking on your door peddling Big Data archiving solutions. Now can you finally breathe easy? Maybe, maybe not. Here's why.

Archiving: The Long View
So much of our digital lives have taken place over the last twenty years or so that we forget that digital computing dates back to the 1940s-and furthermore, we forget that this sixty-odd year lifetime of the Information Age is really only the first act of perhaps centuries of computing before humankind either evolves past zeroes and ones altogether or kills itself off in the process. Our technologies for archiving information, however, are woefully shortsighted, for several reasons:

  • Hardware obsolescence (three to five years) - Using a hard drive or tape drive for archiving? It won't be long till the hardware is obsolete. You may get more life out of the gear you own, but one it wears out, you'll be stuck. Anyone who archived to laser disk in the 1980s has been down this road.
  • File format obsolescence (five to ten years) - True, today's Office products can probably read that file originally saved in the Microsoft Excel version 1 file format back in the day, but what about those VisiCalc or Lotus 123 files? Tools that will convert such files to their modern equivalents will eventually grow increasingly scarce, and you always risk the possibility that they won't handle the conversion properly, leading to data corruption. If your data are encrypted, then your encryption format falls into the file format obsolescence bucket as well. And what about the programs themselves? From simple spreadsheet formulas to complex legacy spaghetti code, how do you archive algorithms in an obsolescence-proof format?
  • Media obsolescence (ten to fifteen years) - CD-ROMs and digital backup tapes have an expected lifetime. Keeping them cool and dry can extend their life, but actually using them will shorten it. Do you really want to rely upon a fifteen-year-old backup tape for critical information?
  • Computing paradigm obsolescence (fifty years perhaps; it's anybody's guess) - will quantum computing or biological processors or some other futuristic gear drive binary digital technologies into the Stone Age? Only time will tell. But if you are forward thinking enough to archive information for the 22nd century, there's no telling what you'll need to do to maintain the viability of your archives in a post-binary world.

Cloud to the Rescue?
On the surface, letting your Cloud Service Provider (CSP) archive your data solves many of these issues. Not only are the new archiving services like Amazon Glacier impressively cost-effective, but we can feel reasonably comfortable counting on today's CSPs to migrate our data from one hardware/media platform to the next over time as technology advances. So, can Cloud solve all your archiving issues?

At some point the answer may be yes, but Cloud Computing is still far too immature to jump to such a conclusion. Will your CSP still be in business decades from now? As the CSP market undergoes its inevitable consolidation phase, will the new CSP who bought out your old CSP handle your archive properly? Only time will tell.

But even if the CSPs rise to the archiving challenge, you may still have the file format challenge. Sure, archiving those old Lotus 123 files in the Cloud is a piece of cake, but that doesn't mean that your CSP will return them in Excel version 21.3 format ten years hence-an unfortunate and unintentional example of garbage in the Cloud.

The Big Data Old Tail
You might think that the challenges inherent in archiving Big Data are simply a matter of degree: bigger storage for bigger data sets, right? But thinking of Big Data as little more than extra-large data sets misses the big picture of the importance of Big Data.

The point to Big Data is that the indicated data sets continue to grow in size on an ongoing basis, continually pushing the limits of existing technology. The more capacity available for storage and processing, the larger the data sets we end up with. In other words, Big Data are by definition a moving target.

One familiar estimate states that the quantity of data in the world doubles every two years. Your organization's Big Data may grow somewhat faster or slower than this convenient benchmark, but in any case, the point is that Big Data growth is exponential. So, taking the two-year doubling factor as a rule of thumb, we can safely say that at any point in time, half of your Big Data are less than two years old, while the other half of your Big Data are more than two years old. And of course, this ZapFlash is concerned with the older half.

The Big Data archiving challenge, therefore, is breaking down the more-than-two-years-old Big Data sets. Remember that this two-year window is true at any point in time. Thinking about the problem mathematically, then, you can conclude that a quarter of your Big Data are more than four years old, an eighth are more than six years old, etc.

Combine this math with the lesson of the first part of this ZapFlash, and a critical point emerges: byte for byte, the cost of maintaining usable archives increases the older those archives become. And yet, the relative size of those archives is vanishingly small relative to today's and tomorrow's Big Data. Furthermore, this problem will only get worse over time, because the size of the Old Tail continues to grow exponentially.

We call this Big Data archiving problem the Big Data Old Tail. Similar to the Long Tail argument, which focuses on the value inherent in summing up the Long Tail of customer demand for niche products, the Big Data Old Tail focuses on the costs inherent in maintaining archives of increasingly small, yet increasingly costly data as we struggle to deal with older and older information. True, perhaps the fact that the Old Tail data sets from a particular time period are small will compensate for the fact that they are costly to archive, but remember that the Old Tail continues to grow over time. Unless we deal with the Old Tail, it threatens to overwhelm us.

The ZapThink Take
The obvious question that comes to mind is whether we need to save all those old data sets anyway. After all, who cares about, say, purchasing data from 1982? And of course, you may have a business reason for deleting old information. Since information you preserve may be subject to lawsuits or other unpleasantness, you may wish to delete data once it's legal to do so.

Fair enough. But there are perhaps far more examples of Big Data sets that your organization will wish to preserve indefinitely than data sets you're happy to delete. From scientific data to information on market behavior to social trends, the richness of our Big Data do not simply depend on the information from the last year or two or even ten. After all, if we forget the mistakes of the past then we are doomed to repeat them. Crunching today's Big Data can give us business intelligence, but only by crunching yesterday's Big Data as well can we ever expect to glean wisdom from our information.

More Stories By Jason Bloomberg

Jason Bloomberg is the leading expert on architecting agility for the enterprise. As president of Intellyx, Mr. Bloomberg brings his years of thought leadership in the areas of Cloud Computing, Enterprise Architecture, and Service-Oriented Architecture to a global clientele of business executives, architects, software vendors, and Cloud service providers looking to achieve technology-enabled business agility across their organizations and for their customers. His latest book, The Agile Architecture Revolution (John Wiley & Sons, 2013), sets the stage for Mr. Bloomberg’s groundbreaking Agile Architecture vision.

Mr. Bloomberg is perhaps best known for his twelve years at ZapThink, where he created and delivered the Licensed ZapThink Architect (LZA) SOA course and associated credential, certifying over 1,700 professionals worldwide. He is one of the original Managing Partners of ZapThink LLC, the leading SOA advisory and analysis firm, which was acquired by Dovel Technologies in 2011. He now runs the successor to the LZA program, the Bloomberg Agile Architecture Course, around the world.

Mr. Bloomberg is a frequent conference speaker and prolific writer. He has published over 500 articles, spoken at over 300 conferences, Webinars, and other events, and has been quoted in the press over 1,400 times as the leading expert on agile approaches to architecture in the enterprise.

Mr. Bloomberg’s previous book, Service Orient or Be Doomed! How Service Orientation Will Change Your Business (John Wiley & Sons, 2006, coauthored with Ron Schmelzer), is recognized as the leading business book on Service Orientation. He also co-authored the books XML and Web Services Unleashed (SAMS Publishing, 2002), and Web Page Scripting Techniques (Hayden Books, 1996).

Prior to ZapThink, Mr. Bloomberg built a diverse background in eBusiness technology management and industry analysis, including serving as a senior analyst in IDC’s eBusiness Advisory group, as well as holding eBusiness management positions at USWeb/CKS (later marchFIRST) and WaveBend Solutions (now Hitachi Consulting).

@BigDataExpo Stories
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with the 19th International Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world and ThingsExpo Silicon Valley Call for Papers is now open.
It is one thing to build single industrial IoT applications, but what will it take to build the Smart Cities and truly society changing applications of the future? The technology won’t be the problem, it will be the number of parties that need to work together and be aligned in their motivation to succeed. In his Day 2 Keynote at @ThingsExpo, Henrik Kenani Dahlgren, Portfolio Marketing Manager at Ericsson, discussed how to plan to cooperate, partner, and form lasting all-star teams to change t...
The initial debate is over: Any enterprise with a serious commitment to IT is migrating to the cloud. But things are not so simple. There is a complex mix of on-premises, colocated, and public-cloud deployments. In this power panel at 18th Cloud Expo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, Randy De Meno, Chief Technologist - Windows Products and Microsoft Partnerships at Commvault; Dave Landa, Chief Operating Officer at kintone; William Morrish, General Manager Product Sales at Interou...
SaaS companies can greatly expand revenue potential by pushing beyond their own borders. The challenge is how to do this without degrading service quality. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Adam Rogers, Managing Director at Anexia, discussed how IaaS providers with a global presence and both virtual and dedicated infrastructure can help companies expand their service footprint with low “go-to-market” costs.
What does it look like when you have access to cloud infrastructure and platform under the same roof? Let’s talk about the different layers of Technology as a Service: who cares, what runs where, and how does it all fit together. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Phil Jackson, Lead Technology Evangelist at SoftLayer, an IBM company, spoke about the picture being painted by IBM Cloud and how the tools being crafted can help fill the gaps in your IT infrastructure.
Machine Learning helps make complex systems more efficient. By applying advanced Machine Learning techniques such as Cognitive Fingerprinting, wind project operators can utilize these tools to learn from collected data, detect regular patterns, and optimize their own operations. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Stuart Gillen, Director of Business Development at SparkCognition, discussed how research has demonstrated the value of Machine Learning in delivering next generation analytics to imp...
Amazon has gradually rolled out parts of its IoT offerings, but these are just the tip of the iceberg. In addition to optimizing their backend AWS offerings, Amazon is laying the ground work to be a major force in IoT - especially in the connected home and office. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Kocher, founder and managing director of Grey Heron, explained how Amazon is extending its reach to become a major force in IoT by building on its dominant cloud IoT platform, its Dash Button strat...
Digital Initiatives create new ways of conducting business, which drive the need for increasingly advanced security and regulatory compliance challenges with exponentially more damaging consequences. In the BMC and Forbes Insights Survey in 2016, 97% of executives said they expect a rise in data breach attempts in the next 12 months. Sixty percent said operations and security teams have only a general understanding of each other’s requirements, resulting in a “SecOps gap” leaving organizations u...
The cloud market growth today is largely in public clouds. While there is a lot of spend in IT departments in virtualization, these aren’t yet translating into a true “cloud” experience within the enterprise. What is stopping the growth of the “private cloud” market? In his general session at 18th Cloud Expo, Nara Rajagopalan, CEO of Accelerite, explored the challenges in deploying, managing, and getting adoption for a private cloud within an enterprise. What are the key differences between wh...
In his keynote at 18th Cloud Expo, Andrew Keys, Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise, provided an overview of the evolution of the Internet and the Database and the future of their combination – the Blockchain. Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life sett...
19th Cloud Expo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy. Meanwhile, 94% of enterpri...
It's easy to assume that your app will run on a fast and reliable network. The reality for your app's users, though, is often a slow, unreliable network with spotty coverage. What happens when the network doesn't work, or when the device is in airplane mode? You get unhappy, frustrated users. An offline-first app is an app that works, without error, when there is no network connection. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Bradley Holt, a Developer Advocate with IBM Cloud Data Services, discussed...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Bsquare has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. For more than two decades, Bsquare has helped its customers extract business value from a broad array of physical assets by making them intelligent, connecting them, and using the data they generate to optimize business processes.
There are several IoTs: the Industrial Internet, Consumer Wearables, Wearables and Healthcare, Supply Chains, and the movement toward Smart Grids, Cities, Regions, and Nations. There are competing communications standards every step of the way, a bewildering array of sensors and devices, and an entire world of competing data analytics platforms. To some this appears to be chaos. In this power panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, Bradley Holt, Developer Advocate a...
The pace of innovation, vendor lock-in, production sustainability, cost-effectiveness, and managing risk… In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Dan Choquette, Founder of RackN, discussed how CIOs are challenged finding the balance of finding the right tools, technology and operational model that serves the business the best. He also discussed how clouds, open source software and infrastructure solutions have benefits but also drawbacks and how workload and operational portability between vendors ...
There is little doubt that Big Data solutions will have an increasing role in the Enterprise IT mainstream over time. Big Data at Cloud Expo - to be held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA - has announced its Call for Papers is open. Cloud computing is being adopted in one form or another by 94% of enterprises today. Tens of billions of new devices are being connected to The Internet of Things. And Big Data is driving this bus. An exponential increase is...
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 19th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal and enterprise IT since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago. All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devices - comp...
A strange thing is happening along the way to the Internet of Things, namely far too many devices to work with and manage. It has become clear that we'll need much higher efficiency user experiences that can allow us to more easily and scalably work with the thousands of devices that will soon be in each of our lives. Enter the conversational interface revolution, combining bots we can literally talk with, gesture to, and even direct with our thoughts, with embedded artificial intelligence, wh...
Cloud computing is being adopted in one form or another by 94% of enterprises today. Tens of billions of new devices are being connected to The Internet of Things. And Big Data is driving this bus. An exponential increase is expected in the amount of information being processed, managed, analyzed, and acted upon by enterprise IT. This amazing is not part of some distant future - it is happening today. One report shows a 650% increase in enterprise data by 2020. Other estimates are even higher....
"A lot of times people will come to us and have a very diverse set of requirements or very customized need and we'll help them to implement it in a fashion that you can't just buy off of the shelf," explained Nick Rose, CTO of Enzu, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.