Big Data Isn’t The Problem

By Michael Troiano, Chief Marketing Officer  –  I came across a neat project, called “The Human Face of Big Data.” It delivers on its promise, pairing characteristically beautiful Rick Smolan photography with eye-opening soundbytes illustrating how the geometric growth of data is creating dis-continuous change in the very nature of human society, and even human life:

  • The average person today processes more data in a single day than a person in the 1500’s did in a lifetime.
  • During the first day of a baby’s life, the amount of data generated by humanity is equivalent to 70 times the information contained in the Library of Congress.
  • Each of us now leaves a trail of digital exhaust, an infinite stream of phone records, texts, browser histories, GPS data, and other information that will live on forever.

Backing Up Big DataYou get the picture. It’s a lot of freakin’ data. The project was funded by a consortium of companies who benefit from this tidal wave of bits and bytes, EMC perhaps foremost among them.

So why am I promoting it?

Well… here’s the thing: Managing “Big Data” within the enterprise presents some challenges, to be sure. But those challenges are dwarfed – mathematically speaking – by the challenges related to backing up Big Data.

Think about it. You have this mountain of data either originating in or being delivered to your production environment every day by exactly the kinds of systems and processes celebrated by this book. If you’re the anal retentive sort who likes to back up that production environment… you now have TWO mountains of data to be concerned about.

And it turns out backing up a mountain of data takes time. Knowing this, you roll out a snapshot system to manage the load. The good news is you can now protect that first mountain. The bad news is you now have THREE mountains of data to ingest, move across your network, and store on expensive spinning disks.

Worried about Disaster Recovery? Remote replication creates another mountain. Business Continuity? Test & Dev? Analytics? Mountain, Mountain, Mountain. Soon enough you find yourself sitting in a basecamp at the foot of the Himalayas, cutting corners on strategic IT initiatives so you can write bigger and bigger checks to the spinning disk guys who CAME UP with this model; stressed about your impossible SLA’s, waiting for something to go wrong and for everyone to be looking at you.

Dedup will help, sure. WAN Optimization, OK. There are lots of technologies to ease the symptoms. But the dirty little secret of “Big Data” is that you can’t protect it with “Old Backup” because the architecture of siloed systems and hopelessly redundant excess just doesn’t scale.

The Human Face of Big Data – at least for the IT professionals tasked with managing it – turns out to be a wincing grimace. If that’s the look on your face right now, shoot us a note, and see if we can help.