Big Data in the Cloud: It's Not for Everyone

Andrew Froehlich, Network Engineer & IT Consultant | 4/16/2014 | 22 comments

Andrew Froehlich
With news that Google slashed the price of their big-data offering "Big Query" by up to 85 percent, one has to wonder if the move is to ward off competitors -- or simply that the anticipated market for cloud-stored big data isn't turning out to be as massive as once expected. And while cloud-based big data sounds good in theory, many are coming to the realization that the cloud may not be the optimal solution.

Those of us involved in enterprise IT have been bombarded with stories regarding the wonders of big data and how it's being used to revolutionize virtually all aspects of business. So it may come as a surprise that cloud-based big-data usage isn't growing as quickly as originally predicted. In fact, 2014 is now being forecasted to grow at a slower pace than it had in 2013. Why?

For one, there are major barriers to entry that must first be overcome in order to get any big-data project off the ground. Because big data requires a big database, you need to be able to find the technical resources that understand how to operate complex platforms. Many IT departments simply don't have and can't recruit the in-house expertise required to deploy and manage these types of architectures. That's why so many have turned to big-data cloud services as a logical alternative. But even there, many are finding cloud-stored big data to be a poor fit for what they want to do.

If a company already maintains and manages a sizable legacy database with which to start their big-data aspirations, they're stuck with the challenge of handing it over to a service provider to normalize and implement into the new big-data cloud infrastructure. Depending on how well managed the legacy database is, getting it to fit into a new solution could be a major headache.

WAN and Internet costs/bottlenecks should be another top concern when looking to a big-data cloud solution. Many are coming to the realization that the amount of bandwidth needed to operate a cloud big-data architecture far exceeds its usefulness. So before you even consider moving your data into the cloud, make sure you accurately calculate bandwidth usage and management requirements now and several years into the future.

Lastly, as with all cloud ventures, recognize and plan an exit strategy to get your big-data architecture out of any cloud service provider. While data may last forever, cloud providers and partnerships may not. Cloud providers make it fairly easy to extract your database. The difficult part resides in moving all the infrastructure policies and workflows that creates your own, custom cloud architecture. These are things like security access rules, quality of service policies, and specialized application and database flows that are defined within the cloud infrastructure itself. So keep in mind that it's not just the data that you want to be able to easily move, but the also the policies that define cloud parameters.

I'm not seeking to deter anyone from his or her cloud-based big-data aspirations. Rather, I simply want to point out less obvious pitfalls that may not immediately come to mind. And at the end of the day, if you've thoroughly vetted these and other potential risks and still feel it's worth it, good luck with your big-data adventure in the cloud!

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kstaron   Big Data in the Cloud: It's Not for Everyone   4/29/2014 11:19:38 AM
Another expense
Another obstacle is how you plan on using big data. If you don't have big plans to offset the expense of taking that dats off site and crunching it into something useable it just another expense even if the price was slashed 85%.
singlemud   Big Data in the Cloud: It's Not for Everyone   4/28/2014 2:59:05 PM
Re: Big Data in the Cloud
very good article, I guess that is why the big companies like google are offering big data services. It is very expensive for in-house big data apps
WaqasAltaf   Big Data in the Cloud: It's Not for Everyone   4/24/2014 12:11:59 PM
Re: Build it and they may come...
Andrew, yes this statement will change. Realization of the fact that knowledge of the factors that affect business performance is the key to success and that big data can be managed more effectively and cost-efficiently on cloud will trigger this change.
WaqasAltaf   Big Data in the Cloud: It's Not for Everyone   4/24/2014 12:07:20 PM
Re: Build it and they may come...
MDMConsult, true. This data management art comes from experience, knowledge of variables that affect business performance and understanding of how data is created. Companies now expect every individual to have a data scientist inculcated within them.
tekedge   Big Data in the Cloud: It's Not for Everyone   4/23/2014 7:58:28 PM
Big Data in the Cloud
I have thought about these points at different times when faced with different scenarios but have never been able to put them together this well. Thanks for doing it so well. This has helped me organise my thoughts well so that can give good input when called upon my opinion on this subject....
WaqasAltaf   Big Data in the Cloud: It's Not for Everyone   4/22/2014 1:20:38 PM
Re: Build it and they may come...
Henrisha, true. The IT department plays a vital consultancy role. It must understand which applications and systems are suited for which purpose. If it doesn't, the business user can go wrong in a decision in a way that may even be devastating.
Henrisha   Big Data in the Cloud: It's Not for Everyone   4/22/2014 4:07:44 AM
Re: Build it and they may come...
The goal is to come up with products and services tailored to the target markets, from SMBs to big corporations. A lot of people are actually getting with the cloud and trying it out--it doesn't work for all, but sometimes that's because they're opting for a solution that doesn't work for their purpose.
MDMConsult   Big Data in the Cloud: It's Not for Everyone   4/21/2014 8:29:42 AM
Re: Build it and they may come...
@Hospice_Houngbo Consumers have the ability to research offers online and other options. The current economic climate has resulted in increased pressure for these organization to retain loyal customers. Securing greater customer loyalty can be substantial.
MDMConsult   Big Data in the Cloud: It's Not for Everyone   4/21/2014 8:27:12 AM
Re: Build it and they may come...
Embracing emerging technologies like cloud computing and big data, enable the company to  sustain its competitive advantages and chase down big players.   
WaqasAltaf   Big Data in the Cloud: It's Not for Everyone   4/20/2014 11:03:03 AM
Re: Build it and they may come...
Pedro, do you think that companies get swayed away by too much promotion of cloud-based big data storages on forums and social media or they are making choices that make sense ? 
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