Welcome!

Big Data Journal Authors: Raja Patel, Dana Gardner, Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski, Jason Bloomberg

Related Topics: Big Data Journal, Java, SOA & WOA, Virtualization, Cloud Expo, SDN Journal

Big Data Journal: 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 It won't be long till the hardware is obsolete.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).

Cloud Expo Latest Stories
Hardware will never be more valuable than on the day it hits your loading dock. Each day new servers are not deployed to production the business is losing money. While Moore’s Law is typically cited to explain the exponential density growth of chips, a critical consequence of this is rapid depreciation of servers. The hardware for clustered systems (e.g., Hadoop, OpenStack) tends to be significant capital expenses. In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, Mason Katz, CTO and co-founder of StackIQ, to discuss how infrastructure teams should be aware of the capitalization and depreciation model of these expenses to fully understand when and where automation is critical.
Over the last few years the healthcare ecosystem has revolved around innovations in Electronic Health Record (HER) based systems. This evolution has helped us achieve much desired interoperability. Now the focus is shifting to other equally important aspects – scalability and performance. While applying cloud computing environments to the EHR systems, a special consideration needs to be given to the cloud enablement of Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture (VistA), i.e., the largest single medical system in the United States.
In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, Mark Hinkle, Senior Director, Open Source Solutions at Citrix Systems Inc., will provide overview of the open source software that can be used to deploy and manage a cloud computing environment. He will include information on storage, networking(e.g., OpenDaylight) and compute virtualization (Xen, KVM, LXC) and the orchestration(Apache CloudStack, OpenStack) of the three to build their own cloud services. Speaker Bio: Mark Hinkle is the Senior Director, Open Source Solutions, at Citrix Systems Inc. He joined Citrix as a result of their July 2011 acquisition of Cloud.com where he was their Vice President of Community. He is currently responsible for Citrix open source efforts around the open source cloud computing platform, Apache CloudStack and the Xen Hypervisor. Previously he was the VP of Community at Zenoss Inc., a producer of the open source application, server, and network management software, where he grew the Zenoss Core project to over 10...
Most of today’s hardware manufacturers are building servers with at least one SATA Port, but not every systems engineer utilizes them. This is considered a loss in the game of maximizing potential storage space in a fixed unit. The SATADOM Series was created by Innodisk as a high-performance, small form factor boot drive with low power consumption to be plugged into the unused SATA port on your server board as an alternative to hard drive or USB boot-up. Built for 1U systems, this powerful device is smaller than a one dollar coin, and frees up otherwise dead space on your motherboard. To meet the requirements of tomorrow’s cloud hardware, Innodisk invested internal R&D resources to develop our SATA III series of products. The SATA III SATADOM boasts 500/180MBs R/W Speeds respectively, or double R/W Speed of SATA II products.
14th International Cloud Expo, held on June 10–12, 2014 at the Javits Center in New York City, featured three content-packed days with a rich array of sessions about the business and technical value of cloud computing, Internet of Things, Big Data, and DevOps led by exceptional speakers from every sector of the IT ecosystem. The Cloud Expo series is the fastest-growing Enterprise IT event in the past 10 years, devoted to every aspect of delivering massively scalable enterprise IT as a service.
As more applications and services move "to the cloud" (public or on-premise) cloud environments are increasingly adopting and building out traditional enterprise features. This in turn is enabling and encouraging cloud adoption from enterprise users. In many ways the definition is blurring as features like continuous operation, geo-distribution or on-demand capacity become the norm. NuoDB is involved in both building enterprise software and using enterprise cloud capabilities. In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, Seth Proctor, CTO at NuoDB, Inc., will discuss the experiences from building, deploying and using enterprise services and suggest some ways to approach moving enterprise applications into a cloud model.
Until recently, many organizations required specialized departments to perform mapping and geospatial analysis, and they used Esri on-premise solutions for that work. In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, Dave Peters, author of the Esri Press book Building a GIS, System Architecture Design Strategies for Managers, will discuss how Esri has successfully included the cloud as a fully integrated SaaS expansion of the ArcGIS mapping platform. Organizations that have incorporated Esri cloud-based applications and content within their business models are reaping huge benefits by directly leveraging cloud-based mapping and analysis capabilities within their existing enterprise investments. The ArcGIS mapping platform includes cloud-based content management and information resources to more widely, efficiently, and affordably deliver real-time actionable information and analysis capabilities to your organization.
Almost everyone sees the potential of Internet of Things but how can businesses truly unlock that potential. The key will be in the ability to discover business insight in the midst of an ocean of Big Data generated from billions of embedded devices via Systems of Discover. Businesses will also need to ensure that they can sustain that insight by leveraging the cloud for global reach, scale and elasticity. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Mac Devine, Distinguished Engineer at IBM, will discuss bringing these three elements together via Systems of Discover.
Cloud and Big Data present unique dilemmas: embracing the benefits of these new technologies while maintaining the security of your organization’s assets. When an outside party owns, controls and manages your infrastructure and computational resources, how can you be assured that sensitive data remains private and secure? How do you best protect data in mixed use cloud and big data infrastructure sets? Can you still satisfy the full range of reporting, compliance and regulatory requirements? In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, Derek Tumulak, Vice President of Product Management at Vormetric, will discuss how to address data security in cloud and Big Data environments so that your organization isn’t next week’s data breach headline.
The cloud is everywhere and growing, and with it SaaS has become an accepted means for software delivery. SaaS is more than just a technology, it is a thriving business model estimated to be worth around $53 billion dollars by 2015, according to IDC. The question is – how do you build and scale a profitable SaaS business model? In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, Jason Cumberland, Vice President, SaaS Solutions at Dimension Data, will give the audience an understanding of common mistakes businesses make when transitioning to SaaS; how to avoid them; and how to build a profitable and scalable SaaS business.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Gridstore™, the leader in software-defined storage (SDS) purpose-built for Windows Servers and Hyper-V, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Gridstore™ is the leader in software-defined storage purpose built for virtualization that is designed to accelerate applications in virtualized environments. Using its patented Server-Side Virtual Controller™ Technology (SVCT) to eliminate the I/O blender effect and accelerate applications Gridstore delivers vmOptimized™ Storage that self-optimizes to each application or VM across both virtual and physical environments. Leveraging a grid architecture, Gridstore delivers the first end-to-end storage QoS to ensure the most important App or VM performance is never compromised. The storage grid, that uses Gridstore’s performance optimized nodes or capacity optimized nodes, starts with as few a...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Solgenia, the global market leader in Cloud Collaboration and Cloud Infrastructure software solutions, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Solgenia is the global market leader in Cloud Collaboration and Cloud Infrastructure software solutions. Designed to “Bridge the Gap” between personal and professional social, mobile and cloud user experiences, our solutions help large and medium-sized organizations dramatically improve productivity, reduce collaboration costs, and increase the overall enterprise value by bringing collaboration and infrastructure solutions to the cloud.
Cloud computing started a technology revolution; now DevOps is driving that revolution forward. By enabling new approaches to service delivery, cloud and DevOps together are delivering even greater speed, agility, and efficiency. No wonder leading innovators are adopting DevOps and cloud together! In his session at DevOps Summit, Andi Mann, Vice President of Strategic Solutions at CA Technologies, will explore the synergies in these two approaches, with practical tips, techniques, research data, war stories, case studies, and recommendations.
Enterprises require the performance, agility and on-demand access of the public cloud, and the management, security and compatibility of the private cloud. The solution? In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, Simone Brunozzi, VP and Chief Technologist(global role) for VMware, will explore how to unlock the power of the hybrid cloud and the steps to get there. He'll discuss the challenges that conventional approaches to both public and private cloud computing, and outline the tough decisions that must be made to accelerate the journey to the hybrid cloud. As part of the transition, an Infrastructure-as-a-Service model will enable enterprise IT to build services beyond their data center while owning what gets moved, when to move it, and for how long. IT can then move forward on what matters most to the organization that it supports – availability, agility and efficiency.
Every healthy ecosystem is diverse. This is especially true in cloud ecosystems, where portability and interoperability are more important than old enterprise models of proprietary ownership. In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, Mark Baker, Server Product Manager at Canonical/Ubuntu, will discuss how single vendors used to take the lead in creating and delivering technology, but in a cloud economy, where users want tools of their preference, when and where they need them, it makes no sense.