Big-data storage: Five must-haves for Middle East enterprises

Red Hat lays out its suggested holistic approach to big data

Tags: Big dataRed Hat ME
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Big-data storage: Five must-haves for Middle East enterprises George DeBono, general manager, Middle East & Africa, Red Hat.
By  George DeBono Published  February 24, 2013

Big data holds big opportunities for companies here in the Middle East. Correctly leveraged, it can enable the organisation to attract and retain new customers, deliver more innovative and profitable products, improve business performance and tap unexpected revenue streams.

Oil companies are using real-time data to better manage remote drilling operations. E-commerce websites are using data from their operations to personalise the shopping experience and radically improve customer support. And an ever-growing number of start-up companies are combining innovative cloud services with big data analysis to create highly targeted products and services sold directly to consumers.

Yet harnessing the power of big data is not without challenges. The same massive volumes of structured and unstructured data that create these opportunities for innovation can confound attempts to cost-effectively contain it, let alone extract value from it. And while the strategic questions surrounding big data are indeed difficult (What data do we actually need? How should we analyse and interpret it? What value will we eventually get from it?), perhaps the most difficult question to answer is the most basic: How will we store it?

To take complete advantage of big data, enterprises must take a holistic approach and transform their view of storage from a "data destination" to a "data platform". Unlike conventional storage methods, a data storage platform ultimately enables the fulfillment of the enterprise's current and foreseeable storage needs and must satisfy five fundamental requirements for managing big data.

1. Deliver cost-effective scale and capacity

The ability to maximise capacity while minimising cost is critical for a storage platform operating at big-data scale. A big-data storage system must be readily and cost-effectively scaled even as the enterprise's storage demands grow dramatically. This requirement stands in stark contrast to what enterprises have come to expect from proprietary scale-up Network Attached Storage (NAS) and Storage Area Network (SAN) systems, whose fixed capacity dwindles away with use until the next data purge or forklift upgrade.

To minimise cost, big data storage platforms take a scale-out, as opposed to a scale-up approach, achieving scale by pooling industry-standard commodity servers and storage devices. This ensures both low costs today and the ability to benefit from increased buying power as hardware gets better, faster, and cheaper over time.

An effective big-data storage system must also be scalable in terms of performance, so that applications experience no degradation as the volume of data in the system increases.

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