|By Michael Bushong||
|August 21, 2014 06:00 AM EDT||
Big Data is quickly overtaking SDN as a key phrase in today’s networking lingo. And overused already as it may be, it actually has a lot more meaning and definition compared to SDN. Big Data solutions are designed to work on lots of data as the name suggests. Of course they have been around forever, talk to any large bank, credit card company, airline or logistics company and all of them have had applications running on extremely large databases and data sets forever. But this is the new Big Data, the one inspired by Hadoop, MapReduce and friends. High performance compute clusters specifically created to analyze large amounts of data and reduce it to a form and quantity that human brains can use in decision making.
What makes today’s Big Data solutions different than its more traditional large database based applications, beyond the sheer datasets being analyzed, is the distributed nature of the analysis. Big Data solutions are designed to run across 100s or even 1000s of servers, each with multiple CPU cores to chew on the data. Traditional large database applications tend to be more localized with fewer applications and servers accessing the data, allowing for more tightly custom integrated solutions, the likes of which Oracle and friends are experts at.
Big Data Flashback
In the late 80s I started my career working as a network engineer for a high energy physics research institute. Working closely with the folks at CERN in Geneva, these physicists were (at the time, and probably still) masters of creating very large datasets. Every time an experiment was run, Tbytes of data (probably Pbytes by now) were generated by thousands of sensors along the tunnel or ring particles were passed through to collide.
The Big Data solution at the time was primitive, but not all that much different than today. The large datasets were manually broken into manageable pieces, something that would fit on a tape or disk. These datasets were then hand copied onto a compute server or super computer and the analysis application would churn through it to find specific data, correlate events and simply reduce the data to something smaller and meaningful. This would then create a new dataset, which would be combined, chopped up again, and the process repeated itself until they arrived at data that was consumable for humans to create new theories from, or provide a piece of proof of an existing theory.
During that first job, the IT group spend an enormous amount of time moving data around. A lot of it manual: tapes and disks were constantly being copied onto the appropriate compute server. The data had to be local to have any chance of analyzing the data. Between tapes, local disks and the network, the local disks were the only storage with appropriate speed to have a hope of finalizing the data reductions. And even then it would not be unusual to have a rather powerful (for the time) Apollo workstation run for several weeks on a single data set.
Back to the here and now
Forward the clock to now. The above description is really not that different from how Hadoop MapReduce works. Start with a big data set, chop it into pieces, replicate the data, compute on the data close to physical locality of the data. Then send results to Reducers, combine the results, then perhaps repeat again to get to human interpretable results.
As fast as we believe the network is within 10GbE access ports, it is still commonly the most restrictive component in the compute, distributed storage and network trio. Compute power increments have far outpaced network speed increments and even memory speed increments. We have many more cycles available to compute, but have not been able to get the data into these CPUs with the same increments. As a result, storage solutions are becoming increasingly distributed, closer to the compute power that needs it.
It’s a natural thought to have the data close to where it needs to be processed, close enough that the effort of retrieving it does not impact the overall completion of the task that uses that data. If I am writing a research paper that takes several hours to complete, I do not mind having to wait a second here or there for the right web sites to load. I would mind if I had to get into my car and drive to the library to look something up, drive back home to work on my paper, and keep doing that. The relationship between time and effort to get data has to become negligible compared to the time and effort required to complete the task.
Locality and growth
This type of contextual locality is extremely hard to manage in a dynamic and growing environment. How do you make sure that the right data remains contextually close to where it is needed when servers and VMs may not be physically close? They may not be in the same rack for the same application or customer, they may not even be in the same pod or datacenter. Storage is relatively cheap, but replication for closeness can very quickly lead to a data distribution complexity that is unmanageable in environments where its not a single orchestrated big data solution.
To solve this problem you need help from your network. You need to be able to create locality on the fly. Things that are not physically close need to be made virtually close, but with the characteristics of physical locality. And in network terms these are of course measured in the usual staples of latency and bandwidth. This is when you want to articulate relationships between the data and the applications that need that data and create virtual closeness that resembles the physical. This may mean dedicated paths through multiple switches to avoid congestion that will dramatically impact latency. These same paths can provide direct physical connectivity through dynamically engineered optical paths between application and storage, or simply appropriate prioritization of traffic along these paths. Without having to worry explicitly where the application is or where the storage is.
Physics will always stand in the way of what we really want or need, but that does not mean we use that same physics with a bit of math to create solutions that manage the complexity of creating dynamic locality. Locality is important. More pronounced in Big Data solutions, but even at a smaller scale it is important within the context of the compute effort on that data.
[Today's fun fact: Lake Superior is the world's largest lake. With that kind of naming accuracy we would like to hire the person that named the lake as our VP of Naming and Terminology]
SYS-CON Events has announced today that Roger Strukhoff has been named conference chair of Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo 2016 Silicon Valley. The 19th Cloud Expo and 6th @ThingsExpo will take place on November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. "The Internet of Things brings trillions of dollars of opportunity to developers and enterprise IT, no matter how you measure it," stated Roger Strukhoff. "More importantly, it leverages the power of devices and the Interne...
Jul. 26, 2016 05:15 AM EDT Reads: 2,048
Large scale deployments present unique planning challenges, system commissioning hurdles between IT and OT and demand careful system hand-off orchestration. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jeff Smith, Senior Director and a founding member of Incenergy, will discuss some of the key tactics to ensure delivery success based on his experience of the last two years deploying Industrial IoT systems across four continents.
Jul. 26, 2016 05:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,524
CenturyLink has announced that application server solutions from GENBAND are now available as part of CenturyLink’s Networx contracts. The General Services Administration (GSA)’s Networx program includes the largest telecommunications contract vehicles ever awarded by the federal government. CenturyLink recently secured an extension through spring 2020 of its offerings available to federal government agencies via GSA’s Networx Universal and Enterprise contracts. GENBAND’s EXPERiUS™ Application...
Jul. 26, 2016 03:45 AM EDT Reads: 1,830
The Internet of Things will challenge the status quo of how IT and development organizations operate. Or will it? Certainly the fog layer of IoT requires special insights about data ontology, security and transactional integrity. But the developmental challenges are the same: People, Process and Platform. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Craig Sproule, CEO of Metavine, demonstrated how to move beyond today's coding paradigm and shared the must-have mindsets for removing complexity from the develo...
Jul. 26, 2016 02:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,334
SYS-CON Events announced today that MangoApps will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. MangoApps provides modern company intranets and team collaboration software, allowing workers to stay connected and productive from anywhere in the world and from any device.
Jul. 26, 2016 01:45 AM EDT Reads: 1,313
The IETF draft standard for M2M certificates is a security solution specifically designed for the demanding needs of IoT/M2M applications. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Brian Romansky, VP of Strategic Technology at TrustPoint Innovation, explained how M2M certificates can efficiently enable confidentiality, integrity, and authenticity on highly constrained devices.
Jul. 26, 2016 01:30 AM EDT Reads: 1,000
The 19th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo, to be held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, brings together Cloud Computing, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Digital Transformation, Microservices and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportuni...
Jul. 26, 2016 01:15 AM EDT Reads: 2,534
In today's uber-connected, consumer-centric, cloud-enabled, insights-driven, multi-device, global world, the focus of solutions has shifted from the product that is sold to the person who is buying the product or service. Enterprises have rebranded their business around the consumers of their products. The buyer is the person and the focus is not on the offering. The person is connected through multiple devices, wearables, at home, on the road, and in multiple locations, sometimes simultaneously...
Jul. 26, 2016 12:45 AM EDT Reads: 648
“delaPlex Software provides software outsourcing services. We have a hybrid model where we have onshore developers and project managers that we can place anywhere in the U.S. or in Europe,” explained Manish Sachdeva, CEO at delaPlex Software, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Jul. 26, 2016 12:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,545
From wearable activity trackers to fantasy e-sports, data and technology are transforming the way athletes train for the game and fans engage with their teams. In his session at @ThingsExpo, will present key data findings from leading sports organizations San Francisco 49ers, Orlando Magic NBA team. By utilizing data analytics these sports orgs have recognized new revenue streams, doubled its fan base and streamlined costs at its stadiums. John Paul is the CEO and Founder of VenueNext. Prior ...
Jul. 25, 2016 11:15 PM EDT Reads: 2,020
"We've discovered that after shows 80% if leads that people get, 80% of the conversations end up on the show floor, meaning people forget about it, people forget who they talk to, people forget that there are actual business opportunities to be had here so we try to help out and keep the conversations going," explained Jeff Mesnik, Founder and President of ContentMX, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Jul. 25, 2016 11:15 PM EDT Reads: 1,317
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.
Jul. 25, 2016 10:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,520
The IoT is changing the way enterprises conduct business. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Eric Hoffman, Vice President at EastBanc Technologies, discussed how businesses can gain an edge over competitors by empowering consumers to take control through IoT. He cited examples such as a Washington, D.C.-based sports club that leveraged IoT and the cloud to develop a comprehensive booking system. He also highlighted how IoT can revitalize and restore outdated business models, making them profitable ...
Jul. 25, 2016 08:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,946
With 15% of enterprises adopting a hybrid IT strategy, you need to set a plan to integrate hybrid cloud throughout your infrastructure. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Steven Dreher, Director of Solutions Architecture at Green House Data, discussed how to plan for shifting resource requirements, overcome challenges, and implement hybrid IT alongside your existing data center assets. Highlights included anticipating workload, cost and resource calculations, integrating services on both sides...
Jul. 25, 2016 08:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,987
Big Data engines are powering a lot of service businesses right now. Data is collected from users from wearable technologies, web behaviors, purchase behavior as well as several arbitrary data points we’d never think of. The demand for faster and bigger engines to crunch and serve up the data to services is growing exponentially. You see a LOT of correlation between “Cloud” and “Big Data” but on Big Data and “Hybrid,” where hybrid hosting is the sanest approach to the Big Data Infrastructure pro...
Jul. 25, 2016 07:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,897
"We are a well-established player in the application life cycle management market and we also have a very strong version control product," stated Flint Brenton, CEO of CollabNet,, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Jul. 25, 2016 07:15 PM EDT Reads: 1,806
We all know the latest numbers: Gartner, Inc. forecasts that 6.4 billion connected things will be in use worldwide in 2016, up 30 percent from last year, and will reach 20.8 billion by 2020. We're rapidly approaching a data production of 40 zettabytes a day – more than we can every physically store, and exabytes and yottabytes are just around the corner. For many that’s a good sign, as data has been proven to equal money – IF it’s ingested, integrated, and analyzed fast enough. Without real-ti...
Jul. 25, 2016 07:15 PM EDT Reads: 1,033
I wanted to gather all of my Internet of Things (IOT) blogs into a single blog (that I could later use with my University of San Francisco (USF) Big Data “MBA” course). However as I started to pull these blogs together, I realized that my IOT discussion lacked a vision; it lacked an end point towards which an organization could drive their IOT envisioning, proof of value, app dev, data engineering and data science efforts. And I think that the IOT end point is really quite simple…
Jul. 25, 2016 06:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,030
A critical component of any IoT project is what to do with all the data being generated. This data needs to be captured, processed, structured, and stored in a way to facilitate different kinds of queries. Traditional data warehouse and analytical systems are mature technologies that can be used to handle certain kinds of queries, but they are not always well suited to many problems, particularly when there is a need for real-time insights.
Jul. 25, 2016 06:15 PM EDT Reads: 1,781
We're entering the post-smartphone era, where wearable gadgets from watches and fitness bands to glasses and health aids will power the next technological revolution. With mass adoption of wearable devices comes a new data ecosystem that must be protected. Wearables open new pathways that facilitate the tracking, sharing and storing of consumers’ personal health, location and daily activity data. Consumers have some idea of the data these devices capture, but most don’t realize how revealing and...
Jul. 25, 2016 06:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,083