Welcome!

Cloud Expo Authors: Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski, Lisa Pope, Liz McMillan, Yeshim Deniz

Related Topics: Big Data Journal, Java, SOA & WOA, Virtualization, Cloud Expo, SDN Journal

Big Data Journal: Article

Archiving the Big Data Old Tail

At any point in time, half of your Big Data are more than two years old

Scenario #1: out of the blue, your boss calls, looking for some long-forgotten entry in a spreadsheet from 1989. Where do you look? Or consider scenario #2: said boss calls again, only this time she wants you to analyze customer purchasing behavior...going back to 1980. Similar problem, only instead of finding a single datum, you must find years of ancient information and prepare it for analysis with a modern business intelligence tool.

The answer, of course, is archiving. Fortunately, you (or your predecessor, or predecessor's predecessor) have been archiving important-or potentially important-corporate data since your organization first started using computers back in the 1960s. So all you have to do to keep your boss happy is find the appropriate archives, recover the necessary data, and you're good to go, right?

Not so fast. There are a number of gotchas to this story, some more obvious than others. Cloud to the rescue? Perhaps, but many archiving challenges remain, and the Cloud actually introduces some new speed bumps as well. Now factor in Big Data. Sure, Big Data are big, so archiving Big Data requires a big archive. Lucky you-vendors have already been knocking on your door peddling Big Data archiving solutions. Now can you finally breathe easy? Maybe, maybe not. Here's why.

Archiving: The Long View
So much of our digital lives have taken place over the last twenty years or so that we forget that digital computing dates back to the 1940s-and furthermore, we forget that this sixty-odd year lifetime of the Information Age is really only the first act of perhaps centuries of computing before humankind either evolves past zeroes and ones altogether or kills itself off in the process. Our technologies for archiving information, however, are woefully shortsighted, for several reasons:

  • Hardware obsolescence (three to five years) - Using a hard drive or tape drive for archiving? It won't be long till the hardware is obsolete. You may get more life out of the gear you own, but one it wears out, you'll be stuck. Anyone who archived to laser disk in the 1980s has been down this road.
  • File format obsolescence (five to ten years) - True, today's Office products can probably read that file originally saved in the Microsoft Excel version 1 file format back in the day, but what about those VisiCalc or Lotus 123 files? Tools that will convert such files to their modern equivalents will eventually grow increasingly scarce, and you always risk the possibility that they won't handle the conversion properly, leading to data corruption. If your data are encrypted, then your encryption format falls into the file format obsolescence bucket as well. And what about the programs themselves? From simple spreadsheet formulas to complex legacy spaghetti code, how do you archive algorithms in an obsolescence-proof format?
  • Media obsolescence (ten to fifteen years) - CD-ROMs and digital backup tapes have an expected lifetime. Keeping them cool and dry can extend their life, but actually using them will shorten it. Do you really want to rely upon a fifteen-year-old backup tape for critical information?
  • Computing paradigm obsolescence (fifty years perhaps; it's anybody's guess) - will quantum computing or biological processors or some other futuristic gear drive binary digital technologies into the Stone Age? Only time will tell. But if you are forward thinking enough to archive information for the 22nd century, there's no telling what you'll need to do to maintain the viability of your archives in a post-binary world.

Cloud to the Rescue?
On the surface, letting your Cloud Service Provider (CSP) archive your data solves many of these issues. Not only are the new archiving services like Amazon Glacier impressively cost-effective, but we can feel reasonably comfortable counting on today's CSPs to migrate our data from one hardware/media platform to the next over time as technology advances. So, can Cloud solve all your archiving issues?

At some point the answer may be yes, but Cloud Computing is still far too immature to jump to such a conclusion. Will your CSP still be in business decades from now? As the CSP market undergoes its inevitable consolidation phase, will the new CSP who bought out your old CSP handle your archive properly? Only time will tell.

But even if the CSPs rise to the archiving challenge, you may still have the file format challenge. Sure, archiving those old Lotus 123 files in the Cloud is a piece of cake, but that doesn't mean that your CSP will return them in Excel version 21.3 format ten years hence-an unfortunate and unintentional example of garbage in the Cloud.

The Big Data Old Tail
You might think that the challenges inherent in archiving Big Data are simply a matter of degree: bigger storage for bigger data sets, right? But thinking of Big Data as little more than extra-large data sets misses the big picture of the importance of Big Data.

The point to Big Data is that the indicated data sets continue to grow in size on an ongoing basis, continually pushing the limits of existing technology. The more capacity available for storage and processing, the larger the data sets we end up with. In other words, Big Data are by definition a moving target.

One familiar estimate states that the quantity of data in the world doubles every two years. Your organization's Big Data may grow somewhat faster or slower than this convenient benchmark, but in any case, the point is that Big Data growth is exponential. So, taking the two-year doubling factor as a rule of thumb, we can safely say that at any point in time, half of your Big Data are less than two years old, while the other half of your Big Data are more than two years old. And of course, this ZapFlash is concerned with the older half.

The Big Data archiving challenge, therefore, is breaking down the more-than-two-years-old Big Data sets. Remember that this two-year window is true at any point in time. Thinking about the problem mathematically, then, you can conclude that a quarter of your Big Data are more than four years old, an eighth are more than six years old, etc.

Combine this math with the lesson of the first part of this ZapFlash, and a critical point emerges: byte for byte, the cost of maintaining usable archives increases the older those archives become. And yet, the relative size of those archives is vanishingly small relative to today's and tomorrow's Big Data. Furthermore, this problem will only get worse over time, because the size of the Old Tail continues to grow exponentially.

We call this Big Data archiving problem the Big Data Old Tail. Similar to the Long Tail argument, which focuses on the value inherent in summing up the Long Tail of customer demand for niche products, the Big Data Old Tail focuses on the costs inherent in maintaining archives of increasingly small, yet increasingly costly data as we struggle to deal with older and older information. True, perhaps the fact that the Old Tail data sets from a particular time period are small will compensate for the fact that they are costly to archive, but remember that the Old Tail continues to grow over time. Unless we deal with the Old Tail, it threatens to overwhelm us.

The ZapThink Take
The obvious question that comes to mind is whether we need to save all those old data sets anyway. After all, who cares about, say, purchasing data from 1982? And of course, you may have a business reason for deleting old information. Since information you preserve may be subject to lawsuits or other unpleasantness, you may wish to delete data once it's legal to do so.

Fair enough. But there are perhaps far more examples of Big Data sets that your organization will wish to preserve indefinitely than data sets you're happy to delete. From scientific data to information on market behavior to social trends, the richness of our Big Data do not simply depend on the information from the last year or two or even ten. After all, if we forget the mistakes of the past then we are doomed to repeat them. Crunching today's Big Data can give us business intelligence, but only by crunching yesterday's Big Data as well can we ever expect to glean wisdom from our information.

More Stories By Jason Bloomberg

Jason Bloomberg is the leading expert on architecting agility for the enterprise. As president of Intellyx, Mr. Bloomberg brings his years of thought leadership in the areas of Cloud Computing, Enterprise Architecture, and Service-Oriented Architecture to a global clientele of business executives, architects, software vendors, and Cloud service providers looking to achieve technology-enabled business agility across their organizations and for their customers. His latest book, The Agile Architecture Revolution (John Wiley & Sons, 2013), sets the stage for Mr. Bloomberg’s groundbreaking Agile Architecture vision.

Mr. Bloomberg is perhaps best known for his twelve years at ZapThink, where he created and delivered the Licensed ZapThink Architect (LZA) SOA course and associated credential, certifying over 1,700 professionals worldwide. He is one of the original Managing Partners of ZapThink LLC, the leading SOA advisory and analysis firm, which was acquired by Dovel Technologies in 2011. He now runs the successor to the LZA program, the Bloomberg Agile Architecture Course, around the world.

Mr. Bloomberg is a frequent conference speaker and prolific writer. He has published over 500 articles, spoken at over 300 conferences, Webinars, and other events, and has been quoted in the press over 1,400 times as the leading expert on agile approaches to architecture in the enterprise.

Mr. Bloomberg’s previous book, Service Orient or Be Doomed! How Service Orientation Will Change Your Business (John Wiley & Sons, 2006, coauthored with Ron Schmelzer), is recognized as the leading business book on Service Orientation. He also co-authored the books XML and Web Services Unleashed (SAMS Publishing, 2002), and Web Page Scripting Techniques (Hayden Books, 1996).

Prior to ZapThink, Mr. Bloomberg built a diverse background in eBusiness technology management and industry analysis, including serving as a senior analyst in IDC’s eBusiness Advisory group, as well as holding eBusiness management positions at USWeb/CKS (later marchFIRST) and WaveBend Solutions (now Hitachi Consulting).

@CloudExpo Stories
The security devil is always in the details of the attack: the ones you've endured, the ones you prepare yourself to fend off, and the ones that, you fear, will catch you completely unaware and defenseless. The Internet of Things (IoT) is nothing if not an endless proliferation of details. It's the vision of a world in which continuous Internet connectivity and addressability is embedded into a growing range of human artifacts, into the natural world, and even into our smartphones, appliances, a...
Leysin American School is an exclusive, private boarding school located in Leysin, Switzerland. Leysin selected an OpenStack-powered, private cloud as a service to manage multiple applications and provide development environments for students across the institution. Seeking to meet rigid data sovereignty and data integrity requirements while offering flexible, on-demand cloud resources to users, Leysin identified OpenStack as the clear choice to round out the school's cloud strategy. Additional...
Explosive growth in connected devices. Enormous amounts of data for collection and analysis. Critical use of data for split-second decision making and actionable information. All three are factors in making the Internet of Things a reality. Yet, any one factor would have an IT organization pondering its infrastructure strategy. How should your organization enhance its IT framework to enable an Internet of Things implementation? In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, James Kirkland, Chief Ar...
The major cloud platforms defy a simple, side-by-side analysis. Each of the major IaaS public-cloud platforms offers their own unique strengths and functionality. Options for on-site private cloud are diverse as well, and must be designed and deployed while taking existing legacy architecture and infrastructure into account. Then the reality is that most enterprises are embarking on a hybrid cloud strategy and programs. In this Power Panel at 15th Cloud Expo (http://www.CloudComputingExpo.com...
Technology is enabling a new approach to collecting and using data. This approach, commonly referred to as the "Internet of Things" (IoT), enables businesses to use real-time data from all sorts of things including machines, devices and sensors to make better decisions, improve customer service, and lower the risk in the creation of new revenue opportunities. In his General Session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Dave Wagstaff, Vice President and Chief Architect at BSQUARE Corporation, discuss the ...
"BSQUARE is in the business of selling software solutions for smart connected devices. It's obvious that IoT has moved from being a technology to being a fundamental part of business, and in the last 18 months people have said let's figure out how to do it and let's put some focus on it, " explained Dave Wagstaff, VP & Chief Architect, at BSQUARE Corporation, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
The 4th International DevOps Summit, co-located with16th International Cloud Expo – being held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY – announces that its Call for Papers is now open. Born out of proven success in agile development, cloud computing, and process automation, DevOps is a macro trend you cannot afford to miss. From showcase success stories from early adopters and web-scale businesses, DevOps is expanding to organizations of all sizes, including the world's large...
Verizon Enterprise Solutions is simplifying the cloud-purchasing experience for its clients, with the launch of Verizon Cloud Marketplace, a key foundational component of the company's robust ecosystem of enterprise-class technologies. The online storefront will initially feature pre-built cloud-based services from AppDynamics, Hitachi Data Systems, Juniper Networks, PfSense and Tervela. Available globally to enterprises using Verizon Cloud, Verizon Cloud Marketplace provides a one-stop shop fo...
Software-driven innovation is becoming a primary approach to how businesses create and deliver new value to customers. A survey of 400 business and IT executives by the IBM Institute for Business Value showed businesses that are more effective at software delivery are also more profitable than their peers nearly 70 percent of the time (1). DevOps provides a way for businesses to remain competitive, applying lean and agile principles to software development to speed the delivery of software that ...

ARMONK, N.Y., Nov. 20, 2014 /PRNewswire/ --  IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced that it is bringing a greater level of control, security and flexibility to cloud-based application development and delivery with a single-tenant version of Bluemix, IBM's

"Our premise is Docker is not enough. That's not a bad thing - we actually love Docker. At ActiveState all our products are based on open source technology and Docker is an up-and-coming piece of open source technology," explained Bart Copeland, President & CEO of ActiveState Software, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at DevOps Summit at Cloud Expo®, held Nov 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
DevOps Summit 2015 New York, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that it is now accepting Keynote Proposals. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to wait for long development cycles that produce software that is obsolete...
Infor has announced a new feature Infor CloudSuite™ Aerospace & Defense (A&D) to aid compliance with International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR). The ITAR function will serve as a complementary function for new or existing Infor CloudSuite A&D customers, to facilitate compliance for Infor customers that are creating a US defense article or performing a US defense service and wish to benefit from cloud-services. The ITAR regulation serves to manage handling and access requirements for dat...
What do a firewall and a fortress have in common? They are no longer strong enough to protect the valuables housed inside. Like the walls of an old fortress, the cracks in the firewall are allowing the bad guys to slip in - unannounced and unnoticed. By the time these thieves get in, the damage is already done and the network is already compromised. Intellectual property is easily slipped out the back door leaving no trace of forced entry. If we want to reign in on these cybercriminals, it's hig...
Bit6 today issued a challenge to the technology community implementing Web Real Time Communication (WebRTC). To leap beyond WebRTC’s significant limitations and fully leverage its underlying value to accelerate innovation, application developers need to consider the entire communications ecosystem.
The 3rd International @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that it is now accepting Keynote Proposals. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal and enterprise IT since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago. All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devices - computers, smartphones, tablets, and sensors - connected to th...
The Internet of Things is not new. Historically, smart businesses have used its basic concept of leveraging data to drive better decision making and have capitalized on those insights to realize additional revenue opportunities. So, what has changed to make the Internet of Things one of the hottest topics in tech? In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Gray, Director, Embedded and Internet of Things, discussed the underlying factors that are driving the economics of intelligent systems. Discover ...
Cochlear Limited, the global leader in implantable hearing solutions, has selected AppZero for easy migration of its Microsoft Windows Server 2003 applications, a major priority for IT organizations before Microsoft ends support on July 14, 2015. AppZero software enables server application migration from old operating systems to new platforms or clouds and has been proven to be ten times faster, more reliable and efficient than alternative approaches.
Fundamentally, SDN is still mostly about network plumbing. While plumbing may be useful to tinker with, what you can do with your plumbing is far more intriguing. A rigid interpretation of SDN confines it to Layers 2 and 3, and that's reasonable. But SDN opens opportunities for novel constructions in Layers 4 to 7 that solve real operational problems in data centers. "Data center," in fact, might become anachronistic - data is everywhere, constantly on the move, seemingly always overflowing. Net...
SYS-CON Media announced today the IBM, which offers the world’s deepest portfolio of technologies and expertise that are transforming the future of work, has launched ad campaigns on SYS-CON’s numerous online magazines such as Cloud Computing Journal, DevOps Journal, Virtualization Journal, and IoT Journal. IBM's campaigns focus on application testing, improving application development processes, common challenges in testing composite applications, continuous testing as part of the DevOps lifec...