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Big Data: The ‘Perfect Storm’ Syndrome

An exclusive Q&A with James Weir, CTO and Co-Founder of UShareSoft

"Cloud computing represents a paradigm shift for IT, transforming computing power into a utility," observed James Weir, CTO and Co-Founder of UShareSoft, in this exclusive Q&A with Cloud Expo Conference Chair Jeremy Geelan. "While cloud adoption remains in the early stages," Weir continued, "this shift means that the overall market will grow massively in the coming years."

Cloud Computing Journal: Agree or disagree? - "While the IT savings aspect is compelling, the strongest benefit of cloud computing is how it enhances business agility."

James Weir: Agree. Cloud computing is not just about cost savings but adding value and creating new business opportunities. Many of the customers I speak to definitely see these benefits too. Cloud computing enhances business agility by providing "self-service" access to compute, network and storage resources through automation. And we're now seeing enterprise customers and cloud providers start to focus on the next big open question: software agility. Software delivery to the cloud needs to benefit from the same automated process to provide users with on-demand access to IT applications. UShareSoft's tools are designed to do just that.

The UShareSoft booth at 10th Cloud Expo | Cloud Expo New York

Cloud Computing Journal: Which of the recent big acquisitions within the Cloud and/or Big Data space have most grabbed your attention as a sign of things to come?

Weir: In the cloud IaaS space, the recent purchase of - a UShareSoft partner - by Citrix is definitely a sign of things to come. There are a number of IaaS vendors out there - Eucalyptus, Abiquo, Nimbula, Flexiant to name but a few. Consolidation in this space is going to continue, and many of the large IT vendors are looking for ways to enhance their cloud platforms.

Cloud Computing Journal: In its recent "Sizing the Cloud" report Forrester Research said it expects the global cloud computing market to reach $241BN in 2020 compared to $40.7BN in 2010 - is that kind of rapid growth trajectory being reflected in your own company or in your view is the Forrester number a tad over-optimistic?

Weir: Cloud computing represents a paradigm shift for IT, transforming computing power into a utility. While cloud adoption remains in the early stages, this shift means that the overall market will grow massively in the coming years. We're certainly seeing expanding interest in UShareSoft's products - registrations for our online platform alone have gone up by 300% in the past couple of months.

Cloud Computing Journal: Which do you think is the most important cloud computing standard still to tackle?

Weir: There is still a need for API standards to specify how clouds interoperate, how to provision and manage software in the cloud. Customers need an exit strategy for changing cloud providers and ensuring they can move workloads between clouds. While some early work has been done in this area, it's actually becoming harder rather than easier; the huge growth in PaaS, for example, has meant a proliferation of private APIs. There is a real need to standardize these APIs.

Cloud Computing Journal: Big Data has existed since the early days of computing; why, then, do you think there is such an industry buzz around it right now?

Weir: It's the "perfect storm" syndrome: several trends are converging to make Big Data one of the buzzwords of 2012. The amount of data we produce continues to explode, particularly with the growing use of social media. Last year's London riots alone, for example, generated an estimated 2.6 million tweets. Analysis of these tweets helped reveal how the network was used by people to collectively dispel and clarify false information. Furthermore, commodity hardware, cloud computing and open source software mean the large number of machines needed for intense calculation are available at a relatively low cost without a large upfront investment. Big Data is becoming accessible to a much larger number of companies.

Cloud Computing Journal: Do you think Big Data will only ever be used for analytical purposes, or do you envisage that it will actually enable new products?

Weir: We believe that Big Data is already being used for new products. Companies like Google and Facebook crunch huge amounts of user data and interactions to deliver customized, highly personal adverts to individual users. Innovation is ripe in the cloud computing and Big Data space, so new products and business opportunities are likely to emerge in this area.

More Stories By Jeremy Geelan

Jeremy Geelan is Chairman & CEO of the 21st Century Internet Group, Inc. and an Executive Academy Member of the International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences. Formerly he was President & COO at Cloud Expo, Inc. and Conference Chair of the worldwide Cloud Expo series. He appears regularly at conferences and trade shows, speaking to technology audiences across six continents. You can follow him on twitter: @jg21.

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