Technology -> Big Data
By: Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst, Interarbor Solutions
Published: 13th June 2013
Copyright Interarbor Solutions © 2013
The next edition of the HP Discover Performance Podcast Series brings together three HP executives to dig into one of the biggest news events at the HP Discover 2013 Conference this week in Las Vegas, the Project HAVEn unveiling.
There has been a lot said about big data in the last year and HP has made a big announcement around a broader vision for businesses to help them gain actionable intelligence from literally a universe of potential sources and data types.
To learn how, BriefingsDirect assembled Chief Evangelist at HP Software, Paul Muller; Chris Selland, Vice President of Marketing at HP Vertica, and Tom Norton, Vice President for Big Data Technology Services at HP. The panel was moderated by Dana Gardner, principal analyst at Interarbor Solutions. [Disclosure: HP is a sponsor of BriefingsDirect podcasts.]
Here are some excerpts:
Gardner: Fairly recently, only critical data was given this high-falutin' treatment for analysis, warehousing, applying business intelligence (BI) tools, making sure that it was backed up and treated almost as if it were a cherished child.
But almost overnight, the savvy businesses, those who are looking for business results, are more interested in all the data of any kind so that they can run their businesses better, and find insights in the areas that they maybe didn’t understand or didn’t even know about.
So what do you think has happened? Why have we moved from this BI-as-sacred ivory tower approach to now more pedestrian?
Selland: First-and-foremost, it’s really become a competitiveness issue. Just about every company will pay attention to their customers.
You can tell senior management that this data is important. We're going to analyze it and give you insights about it, but you start realizing that we have an opportunity to grow our business or we're losing business, because we're not doing a good enough job, or we have an opportunity to do better job with data.
Social media has been the tip of the arrow here, because just about all industries all of a sudden realize that there is all data out there floating around. Our customers are actually talking to each other and talking about us, and what are we doing about that? That’s brought a lot of attention above and beyond the CIO and made this an issue that the CMO, the CFO, the COO, the CEO start to care about.
Big data is about far more than social media, but I do think social media gets a lot of the credit for making companies pay a lot more attention. It's, "Wait a minute. There is all this data, and we really need to be doing something with this."
Muller: In the conversations that I'm having consistently around the globe, executives, both CIOs, but also non-IT executives, are realizing that "big" data is probably not the most helpful phrase. It’s not the size of the data that matters, but it’s what you do with it.
It’s about finding the connections between different data sets to help you improve competitiveness, help you improve efficiency if you are in the public sector, help you to detect fraud pattern. It's about what you do with the data in that connected intelligence that matters.
To make that work, it’s about not just the volume of data. That certainly helps, not having to throw out my data or overly summarize it. Having high-fidelity data absolutely helps, but it’s also the variety of data. Less than 15 percent of what we deal with on a daily basis is in structured form.
Most of the people I meet are still dealing with information in rows and columns, because traditionally that’s what a computer has understood. They’ve not built for the unstructured things like video, audio, images, and for that matter, social, as Chris just mentioned.
Finally, it’s about timeliness. Nobody wants to might be making tomorrow’s decision with last week’s data, if that makes sense. In other words, with a lot of the decisions we have to make, it’s usually done through a revision mirror, which is not helpful, if you're trying to operate today’s thoughts as well.
Variety of systems
Selland: I have a love-hate relationship with the term "big data." The love part is the fact that it really has been adopted. People gravitate to it and are starting to realize that there is something here they need to pay attention to. And that’s not just IT.
And this is really what’s driven the HAVEn initiative and the HAVEn strategy. We have this tremendous portfolio of assets here at HP -- from software to hardware to services -- and HAVEn is about putting that portfolio behind these different analytic engines – Vertica, IDOL, Logger, and Hadoop -- that complement each other.
So how do we bring this together under a single broad strategy to help companies and global enterprises get their hands around all of this, because it’s a lot more than big? Big data is great. It’s great that the term is taken off, but it’s a lot bigger than that.
Norton: Both Paul and Chris mentioned that data platforms and data analysis have been around for years, but this is still a shift.
The traditional systems or platforms that IT is used to providing are now becoming legacy. In other words, they're not providing the type of service level to meet the workload demands of the organization. So IT is faced with the challenge of how to transform that BI environment to more of a data refinement model or a big data ecosystem, if you want to still hang on to big data as a term.
So the business is now demanding action from IT.
The ability to respond quickly to this platform transformation is what we want to help our customers do from our technology services' perspective. How can we speed the maturity or speed the transformation of those traditional BI systems? Business have to have relevant and refined information available to them at the time they need it -- whether it’d be 1.5 seconds or 15 hours.
The business needs the information to be able to compete and IT needs to be able to adapt, to have that kind of flexible, secure, and high-performing platform that can deal with the different complexities of raw data that’s available to them today.
Gardner: Let’s get back to the news of the day, Project HAVEn. What it is?
Selland: I talked about the tip of the spear before. In this case the tip of the spear are our analytic engines, our analytic platforms, the Vertica Analytics Platform, Autonomy IDOL, ArcSight Logger. HAVEn is about taking this entire HP portfolio and then combining those with the power of Hadoop.
There are a number of Hadoop distributions, and we support them all. It's taking that software platform, running it on HP’s Converged Infrastructure, wrapping HP’s services around it, and then enabling our customers, our channel partners, our systems integrators, and our resellers to build these next-generation analytic-enabled solutions and big-data analytic-enabled solutions.
Changing the business
When you're talking to businesspeople, you can't talk about platforms and you can’t talk about speeds and feeds. When you say Hadoop to a businessperson they usually say, "God bless you," these days.
You have to talk about customer analytics. You have to talk about preventing fraud. You have to talk about being able to operationally be more effective, more profitable, and all of those things that drive the business. It really becomes more-and-more a solutions discussion.
HAVEn is the HP platform that provides our customers, our partners, and of course, our consultants, when our customers choose to have us do it for them, the ability to deliver these solutions. They're big-data solutions, analytic-enabled solutions. They're the solutions that companies, organizations, and global enterprises need to take their businesses forward and to make their customers more satisfied to become more profitable. That's what HAVEn is all about.
Gardner: How then do you put this into business terms, so they can get just how powerful this really is?
Muller: That’s ultimately the question. Let me just give you an example that we talk about and that I share with people quite frequently, and it usually generates a bit of a smirk. We’ve all been on the telephone and called a company or a public service, where you've been told by the machine that the call will be monitored for quality of service purposes. And I am sure we’re all thinking, "Gosh, if only."
The scary part is that all those calls are recorded. They're not only recorded, but they're recorded digitally. In other words, they're recorded to a computer. Almost all of that data is habitually thrown away, unless there is an exception to the rule.
If there is a problem with the flight or if there is some complaint about the call that escalates the senior management, they may eventually look at it. But think about how much information, how much valuable insight is thrown away on a daily basis across a company, across the country, across the planet. What we've aimed to do with HAVEn is liberate that information for us to find that connected intelligence.
In order to do that, we get back to this key concept that you need to be able to integrate telemetry from your IT systems. What’s happening inside them today? For example, if somebody to send an email to somebody outside of the company, that typically will spawn a question that asks who they send that email to? Was there an attachment there? Is it a piece of sensitive information or not? Typically that would require a person to look at it.
Finally, it's to be able to correlate patterns of activity that are relevant to think about revenue, earnings, or whatever that might be. What we're able to do with the HAVEn announcement is combine those concepts into one integrated platform. The power of that would be something like in that call center example. We can use autonomy technology to listen to the call, to understand people's emotions, and whether they’ve said, "If you don't solve this problem, I'm never going to buy from you again."
Take that nugget of information, marry that to things like whether they are a high net worth customer, what their spending patterns have been, whether they're socially active, are they more likely to tell people about their bad experience, and correlate that all in real-time to help give you insight. That's the sort of being the HAVEn can do it, and that's a real world application that we're trying to communicate in business.
Norton: I have one more example of what Paul has just indicated. Take healthcare, for example. We're working with the healthcare providers. There are some three-tier healthcare providers. A major healthcare organization could have as many as 50 different business units. These separate business units have their own requirements for information that they want to feed to hospital systems.
So you have a centralized organizational IT structure. You have a requirement of a business unit within the organization that has its own processing requirement, and then you have hospital systems that buy and share information with the business unit.
Think about three-tiered structure and you think of some of the component pieces that HAVEn brings to that. You have IT which can manage some of those central systems that becomes that data lake or data repository, collecting years and years of historical healthcare information from the hospital systems, from the business units, but also from the global healthcare environment that could be available globally.
IT provides this ecosystem around the data repository that needs to be secured, and and that data pool needs to be governed.
Then, you combine that with information that's coming publicly and needs to be secured. You have those corner pieces which are natural to the Hadoop distributed system inside that data lake that keeps that repository of healthcare information.
The business unit has a requirement because it wants to be able to feed information to the healthcare providers or the hospital systems, and to collect from them as well. Their expectations of IT is that they may need instant response. They may need a response from a medical provider in seconds, or they may look at reporting on changes in healthcare in certain environmental situations that are creating change in healthcare. So they might get daily reporting or they might have half-day reporting.
Within HAVEn, you look at Vertica, to drive that immediate satisfaction of that query that comes from the hospital system. Combine that with Hadoop and combine that with the kind of data-governance models that Autonomy brings. Then, look at security policies around the sensors from patients that are being sent to that hospital system. That combination is a very powerful equation. It's going to enable that business to be very successful in terms of how it handles information and how it produces it.
When we start looking at that integration of those components, that's what's driving IT, because they need that very flexible and responsive data repository that can provide that type of insight that the hospital systems need from that from the business unit that's driving the healthcare IT organization itself.
Those are the fits even in a large enterprise, where you can take that platform and apply it in an industry sense, and it makes complete sense for that industry overall.
Gardner: HP has, of course, been a very large company with a long heritage, but are we really stepping outside of the traditional role that HP has played? It sounds as if HP is becoming a business-services company, not a technology services company.
Bridging the gap
Selland: Yes and no. First of all, we do need to acknowledge that there is a need to bridge the gap between the IT organization and the business organization, and enable them to talk the same language and solve problems together.
First of all, IT has to become more of an enabler. Second, and I mentioned this earlier and I really want to play this up, it's absolutely an opportunity for our partners. HP has a number of assets, but one of our greatest assets is HP's partner network -- our partner ecosystem, our global systems integrators, our technology partners, even our services providers, our training providers, all of the companies that work in and around the global HP.
We can't know every nuance of every business at HP. So the HAVEn initiative is very much about enabling our partners to create the solutions we're creating. We're using our own platform to create solutions for the core audiences that we serve, which in many cases, are things like IT management solutions or security solutions which are being featured and will continue to be featured.
We're going to need to get into all of these different nuances of all of these different industries. How do these companies and organizations compete with each other in particular verticals? We can’t possibly know all of that. So we're very reliant on our partners.
The great news is we have, we have what I believe, is the world's greatest partner network and this is very much about enabling those partners and those solutions. In many cases, those solutions will be delivered by partners and that’s what the solutions are all about as well.
Gardner: Now that we put together the various platforms, given the whole is greater than the sum of the parts in terms of a business value, what's the vision beyond that to making these usable, exploitable?
Are there APIs and tools or is that something also that you are going to look to the partners for, or both? How does it work in terms of the go-to-market?
Selland: There absolutely are APIs and tools. We need to prime the pump, to some degree, with building and creating some of our own solutions to show what can be done in the markets we serve, which we're doing, and we also we have partners on board already.
If you look at the HAVEn announcements, you'll see partners like Avnet and Accenture and other partners that are already adopting and building HAVEn-based solutions. In many cases, we've started delivering to customers already.
It's really a matter of showing what can be done, building what can be built, and delivering them. I mentioned earlier the crossing-the-chasm moment we're having. The other thing that happens, when you get into this market, is you're moving from its being purely a CIO decision to where the business starts getting involved.
There is great return on investment (ROI), there's this big data analytic solution we're going to enable, and we are going to build to deliver better customer loyalty. We are going to better customer retention and lower churn. The first thing I need to say is, "Okay, show me the numbers, show me the money." Those are Jerry Maguire terms, and the best way to do that is show examples of other companies that have done it.
You've got to get that early momentum, but we're already in the process of getting it, and we've already got partners on board. So we're really excited.
Gardner: Given what we've now seen with the HP Discover announcements with HAVEn, how HP is uniquely positioned in big data?
Muller: Insight without action is a bit like saying that you have a strategy without execution. In other words, it’s pretty close to hallucination, right?
The ability to take that insight and then reflect that into your business rapidly is critical. I have a point of view that says that almost every enterprise is defined by software these days. In other words, when you make an insight and you want to make a change, you're changing the size. If you are Mercedes, you're changing one of the 100 million lines of code in your typical S class. Some of the major based around the planet now hire more programmers than Microsoft has working on Windows today.
Most companies are defined by software. So when they do get in an insight, they need to rapidly reflect that insight in the form of a new application or a new service, it’s typically going to require IT.
Your ability to quickly take that insight and turn that into something a customer can see, touch, and smell is absolutely critical, and using technique like Agile delivery, increasing automation levels, DevOps approaches, are all critical to being able to execute to get to that.
Selland: It's not just big data, but helping our customers be successful in leveraging big data is a core focus and a core pillar of HP strategy. So first of all it’s focus.
Second of all, it’s breadth. I talked about this earlier, so I don’t want to repeat myself too much. The software, hardware, and converged cloud assets, capabilities of services, and of course their service’s portfolio -- all of the resources that the global HP brings to bear -- are focused on big data.
And it’s also the uniqueness. Obviously, being an HP Software Executive, I'm most familiar with the software. If you really look at it, nobody, none of HP’s competitors, has anything like Vertica. None of HP’s competitors have anything like IDOL. None of HP’s competitors has anything like ArcSight Logger. None of HP's competitors has the ability to bring those assets together and get them interoperating with each other and get them solving problems and building solutions.
Then, you take our partner channel, wrap it around that, and you combine it with the power of open-source industry initiatives like Hadoop. HP has very much openness of the core of everything we're doing.
You’ve got to have a broad enough portfolio to know that you’ve got the confidence and the assets to eventually solve the problem, but at the same time start with understanding the problem, the industry, and solutions. This is where our service is, and this is where our partner ecosystem comes into play. And having the breadth of the portfolio of software/hardware and cloud services to be able to deliver on it is really what’s it’s all about, but there is no one-size-fits-all answer to the question we just asked.
Norton: HP actually has, from a services' perspective, a unique approach to this. You've seen it before in the cloud and you've seen it before in the days of IT transformation, where we started looking at that transformation experience.
Through our services' groups within HP, we have the ability from an information management and analytics approach to work with companies to understand the business value that they're trying to drive with information, and ideally try to understand what data is available to them today that is going to provide that business aligned information.
Through the Big Data Discovery Experience workshops, we're able to ask, "What is the business I am capable of doing with the data they have available to them today, and how can that be enhanced with alternative data sources that may fall outside of the organization today?"
As we mentioned earlier, it’s that idea of what can be done. What's the art of the possible here that is going to provide value to the organization? Through services we can take that all the way down, then say, now once you have got the idea, that says I’ve got a road map for analytical value and the management of the information that we have, and we could have made available to the businesses.
Then, you can align that, as I mentioned before, through IT strategies where you do the same thing. You align the business to IT and ask how IT is going to be able to enable those actions that the business wants to take on that information.
So there's an entire lifecycle of raw material data to business-aligned and business-valued information through a service’s approach, through a consultative approach, that HP is able to bring to our customers.
That’s unique, because we have the ability through that upfront strategy from business value of information to the collection and refinement of raw materials and meeting in the middle in this big data ecosystem. HP can supply that from end to end, all the way from software to hardware to services, it's very unique.
Muller: I’ve got to summarize this by saying that the great part about HAVEn is that you can pretty much answer any question you could think of. The challenge is whether you can think of smart questions to ask.
Selland: Let me give you a tangible example that I was reading about not long ago in The Wall Street Journal. They were talking about how the airline industry is starting to pay attention to social media. Paul talked before about intersections. What do we mean by intersections?
This article in The Wall Street Journal was talking about how airlines are starting to pay attention to social media, because customers are tweeting when they're stuck at the airport. My flight is delayed, and I am upset. I'm going to be late to go visit my grandmother -- or something like that.
So somebody tweets. Paul tweets "I'm stuck at the airport, my flight is delayed and I am going to be late to grandma’s house." What can you really do about that besides respond back and say, "Oh, I'm sorry. Maybe I can offer you a discount next time," or something like that? But it doesn’t do anything to solve the problem.
Think about the airline industry, customer loyalty programs or frequent-flyer programs. Frequent-flyer programs were among the first customer loyalty problems. They have all this traditional data, as well which some might call customer relationship management (CRM). In the airline industry, they call it reservation systems.
I gave the example before about a jet engine throwing off two terabytes of data per hour. By the way, on any flight that I'm on, I want that to be pretty boring data that just says all systms are go, because that’s what you want.
At the same time, you don’t want to throw it away, because what if there are blips, or what if there are trends? What if I can figure out a way to use that to do a better job of doing predictive maintenance on my jets?
By doing a better job of predictive maintenance on my jets, I keep my flights on time. By keeping my flights on time, then I do a better job of keeping my customers satisfied. By keeping my customers more satisfied, I keep them more loyal. By keeping my customers more loyal, I make more money.
So all of this stuff starts to come together. You think about the fact there is a relationship between these two terabytes per hour of sensor data that’s coming off the sensors on the engine, and the upset customers, and social media tweeting in the airport. But if you look at the stuff in a stove-piped fashion, we don’t get any of that.
How do we start to bring this stuff together? This stuff does not sit in a single database and it’s not a single type of structure and it’s coming in all over the place. How do I make sense of it?
As Paul said very well, ask smart questions, figure out the big picture, and ultimately make my organization more successful, more competitive, and really get to the results I want to get to. But really, it’s a much, much bigger set of questions than just "My database is getting really big. Yesterday, I had this many terabytes and I am adding more terabytes a day." It’s a lot bigger than that.
We need to think bigger and you need to work with an organization that has the breadth of resources and the breadth not just inside the organization but within our partnerships to be able to do that. HP has got the unmatched capability to do that, in my view, and that’s why this HAVEn initiative is so very exciting and why we have such great expectations from this.
HAVEn is really about the future, the competitiveness of the business, and IT becoming an enabler for that. It’s about the CIO, really having a chance to play a key role in driving the strategy of the business, and that’s what all CIOs want to do.
We have these inflection points in the marketplace, the last one was like 12 years ago, when the whole e-business thing came along. And, while I just used a competitor's tag line, it changed everything. The web did change everything. It forced businesses to adapt, but it also enabled the lot of businesses to change how they do business, and they did.
Now, we're at another one, a very critical inflection point. It really does change everything, and there is still some skepticism out there. Is this big-data thing real? We think it’s very real and we think you're going to see more-and-more examples. We're working with customers today or showing some of those examples how it really does change everything.
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