Feeds

Number-crunching in the Cloud

Wave BY:BY to old-school data analytics

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Back in the mid-nineties every PC in your organisation potentially contained software that could destroy your company overnight. Not a virus, nor a Trojan: it was called the spreadsheet.

The spreadsheet was – and still is – broken by design. The vital raw data it crunches may be exposed to view, concealed behind the cells or parachuting in from somewhere outside the spreadsheet.

Mixed up in the same visible or invisible cells is the business logic used in its calculations. And unless rigorously locked down, each copy of every spreadsheet in circulation can be individually "improved" by its user, intentionally or by accident.

But the output from the spreadsheet, on the screen for the local worker, or in a paper report sent up to the boardroom, looked really nice, really authoritative. Which, of course, was the problem.

Today's tsunami of data input, and the changing requirement to get output directly to the decision makers in the field, has largely put paid to that kind of spreadsheet. Tom Nolle of Cimi Corp remembers the days when vital decision making depended on "ten thousand spreadsheets within the worker population".

Today we try to pull that all together to get a handle on data integrity. The subject is one of Nolle's specialities. Cimi Corp is a strategic consulting company that assesses trends and tries to build a picture of the future of telecommunications, media, and technology (TMT).

The 'future' of business analytics

In a web-based teleconference under the aegis of Internet Evolution, Nolle maps out the changing landscape of business analytics. "There was a time when business intelligence meant sending the information to the boardroom," he says. "Today it means sending the information to everyone in the company that has to make a decision. And they need the data when they make the decision – not some time in anticipation, and not when it's too late."

What data? There's all the traditional stuff your in-house data warehouses have been collecting for decades – raw material and output figures, customer satisfaction scores, employee churn per region, cost of sales... This data is abstracted, digested and projected in ways that probably have to be evolving rapidly as your business changes. But now there's new data to add to the mix: valuable demographic and other market information coming in over the internet.

Dave Suedkamp, head of everything for IBM's market research services, chips in: "Facebook, Twitter, news feeds and other social media, message boards, forums..." This new inundation from the Cloud can't be ignored by businesses trying to make a buck in the 21st century, he says. To make sense of the world you need to digest it all.

Ishan Sehgal tweets, in and out of his job as program director of software as a service for predictive analytics at SPSS, a company IBM acquired in 2009. "The amount of social data out there is increasing beyond measurement," he tells the web conference. "The overall amount of data currently stored in the world is estimated to exceed one zettabyte." Que? Count the number of grains of sand in a thousand worlds like ours, and there's your zettabyte.

If you're wondering about the weight of IBM input here, it's worth noting the Internet Evolution website is "sponsored" by the company. But there's not too much in the way of marketing hype in this particular conference. Inevitably a fog of abstract jargon hangs over the occasion, but there are some possible insights to be gained.

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
Docker's app containers are coming to Windows Server, says Microsoft
MS chases app deployment speeds already enjoyed by Linux devs
IBM storage revenues sink: 'We are disappointed,' says CEO
Time to put the storage biz up for sale?
'Hmm, why CAN'T I run a water pipe through that rack of media servers?'
Leaving Las Vegas for Armenia kludging and Dubai dune bashing
'Urika': Cray unveils new 1,500-core big data crunching monster
6TB of DRAM, 38TB of SSD flash and 120TB of disk storage
Facebook slurps 'paste sites' for STOLEN passwords, sprinkles on hash and salt
Zuck's ad empire DOESN'T see details in plain text. Phew!
SDI wars: WTF is software defined infrastructure?
This time we play for ALL the marbles
Windows 10: Forget Cloudobile, put Security and Privacy First
But - dammit - It would be insane to say 'don't collect, because NSA'
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.