Tag Archives: CIO

Sibal, Chidambaram still Union ministers in Centre’s mobile app #Press #Media #BusinessStandard

The faux pas on the appStore called Mobile Seva has been attributed to lack of a single decision making body.

The Bharatiya Janata Party-led government will shortly be completing 30 days in office. The administrative machinery, from the ministers to the bureaucrats, dons a new look. However, according to Directory of Ministries, one of the most popular applications hosted on the government’s appStore, P Chidambaram is still the minister for finance.

The appStore, brainchild of and maintained by the department of electronics and information technology, has not even spared its own. According to information on the application, Kapil Sibal continues to head the ministry. J Satyanarayana, who retired in April, is still secretary for the department. And, this has managed to slip past a government headed by Narendra Modi, considered one of most technology savvy politicians.

This comes even as the government is set to take the appStore meant for enhancing citizen services to Google’s popular android platform, for wider access.

Sanchit Vir Gogia, Chief Analyst & CEO of Greyhound Research, attributes the faux pas to lack of a single decision making body. “There are multiple arms in the department which are functioning in silos,” he said. The country needs a chief information officer who can create an overarching technology strategy for India, he added.

Gogia says several digitisation projects were started with much fanfare but could not reach their desired end due to lack of interface between various government arms.

The government under Modi has been moving fast to update information across all state-owned portals about the new regime and its initiatives. In fact, social media has been made the prime tool for sharing updates and all ministries are being encouraged to adopt it.

Interestingly, ‘Directory of Ministries’ is one of the most popular applications on the store, and features in the top-five most downloaded applications. The store contains a little over 300 apps that primarily cater to government’s services for citizens.

An application which serves as a guide for citizens seeking access under the Right to Information(RTI), a flagship law of the previous government, is the most popular on the app store. Those giving information about polling stations, consignments through India Post and Aadhaar enrolment status are also high on the rankings.

The appStore called Mobile Seva was launched in 2012 as the government sought to step up efforts over new computing platforms such as mobile. Once the apps are on dedicated application stores such as Android, the usage by citizens is expected to go up manifold. Currently, awareness about these apps is very low, said an official.

“We are adding more applications and are now working on technology which will make it platform-agnostic, so that it works on Microsoft’s Windows as well as on Apple’s iOS,” the official said.

However, none was available for a comment on the application carrying outdated information.

Gogia of Greyhound Research said the first thing the government needed to do was to make the applications cross-platform. “The lineages need to go off.” There are several interesting applications such as the RTI one which are in the store and much more could be achieved through it, only if government figures out a way to harness their potential, he said.

Source: Business Standard

A CIO’s metamorphosis from IT enabler to strategic business leader #Press #Media #FirstBiz

While the CFO has the liberty to look into matters only concerning finance and the CMO can concentrate on marketing, the CIO has, of late, lost the liberty to focus on matters concerning only IT. The lines have blurred and walls that existed before have been brought down. The steady progress to digital in all business organisations and even government is adding to this increasing complexity. While this can bog down CIOs with undue pressure and responsibilities, it is also a good time for CIOs to rise and really prove they are worth their salt in the organisation – not just as managers handling back-end, mundane IT functions but as true leaders who make a significant contribution to how the business works and flourishes.

Cost cutting is not our sole responsibility, say CIOs

Are CIOs themselves to blame for the ‘cost-cutter’ tag getting attached to their role? Vijay Sethi, CIO and Vice President IS & HR, Hero MotoCorp Limited firmly believes so. Nagaraj G N, Global Head – Service Delivery – 3i Infotech explains the deeper reason behind this. “Enterprises in India have been through a tough time. Policy paralysis, high inflation and general lack of confidence in the political leadership and the bleak investment climate have forced many enterprises to critically look at the bottom line. In a positively charged environment, enterprises will look to making fresh investments on solutions that create a mean and lean outfit. With too much pessimism in the environment, enterprises looked at curtailing all expenditure with some enterprises resorting to cutting flesh. In such a scenario all cost centres came under severe scrutiny and inspection,” he says.

He points out that most enterprises are technology supported and not technology enabled and there is very little deep understanding of enterprise technology and how it can shape business. In such a paradigm, IT teams become yet another cost centre and the CIO’s only claim to fame would be around cost cutting initiatives and negotiation skills with vendors.

It is entirely up to CIOs themselves to take advantage of external factors such as change in political leadership and to capitalise on their cost saving initiatives and wrap it in a layer of innovation to increase the scale of business through technology-driven and technology-enabled initiatives. “CIOs have the opportunity, the potential and the capability of execution to change market dynamics by paving the way for new age products and solutions , especially in the mobility, cloud and social domains, some of which will find definition in the need expressed by the CIOs. This will also be an exciting time for start-up ventures who will take the lead and the risk in creating these products and solutions,” predicts Nagaraj.

Clearly, the CIO mindset has transformed to a more business case led approach with a focus on adding innovation to line of business. And talking about an important step towards achieving that, Sanchit Vir Gogia, Chief Analyst and CEO, Greyhound Research, says, “It is absolutely important that a CIO aligns his goals and works in sync with the CFO and the CMO to add to the line of business.”

A small step to better communication goes a long way

This need for increased communication between CIOs and other C-level peers can work in the CIO’s favour if he or she initiates this exchange of ideas and lets the business know what they can bring to the table. Satish Pendse, President of Highbar Technologies, explains, “Interactions with other C-level executives should never be perceived as ‘problems.’ Rather, they are great opportunities to drive the IT agenda across the organisation. IT initiatives are transformational in nature. Every such initiative needs to be marketed internally and needs to be embraced by multiple stakeholders, in addition to IT. Interactions with CMO, CFO and CEO are opportunities from this perspective. Once these executives buy into any IT initiatives, chances of success increase manifold.”

Other than effective communication, CIOs need to understand that in the end IT projects are not just their own but are done for other functions and the organisation as a whole. “It is important that other C-suite managers also own the initiative. For this to happen, the CIO has to be a trusted partner for them and the fact is trust needs to be earned – by delivery, by conduct and by knowledge,” Sethi explains.

Nagaraj brings up an aspect that is often left unsaid. He says that there is a factor of competition amongst all CXOs and tackling this needs a different kind of management strategy and manoeuvring skills. Having said that, he clarifies, “The problem, challenge and opportunity for each CXO are the same. Some believe that the world of technology being niche, the CIO is at a disadvantage as other CXOs do not appreciate technology while they do grasp the strategy and the intent aligned to common goals and objectives. I feel that is an invalid or rather irrational belief. The world of finance, investment and operations sometimes has those niche areas that are distant from the grasp of CXOs from different fields. I believe all CXOs operate on a level playing field with respect to opportunities and challenges. The individual just needs to prove his mettle on strategy, execution, foresight and on the ability to sell.”

Manish Bahl, Vice President & Country Manager India for Forrester Research suggests some very practical tips for CIOs who are wondering how to take that first step towards effective communication. “CIOs need to reach across the walls of the IT organisation to engage with the CMO and other business leaders. As a first step, the CIO should meet business leaders weekly to devise and discuss a technology strategy for the business. Come to these discussions wearing your business hat to build a connection with business leaders. For instance, talk about delivering a consistent customer experience to drive business growth for your firm – a process that technology may only enter at a later stage,” he says.

“If CIOs don’t do that, business will find its own ways to leverage technology leaving CIOs behind. For instance, Indian CMOs are building their own technology agenda to serve digitally empowered customers and increasing their tech budget,” he warns.

New and emerging threats to the CIO role

Adding to Bahl’s views on CIOs being left behind, Gogia feels that the threats to the CIO role are increasing, and hence the need for evolution of CIOs themselves and their teams. “In today’s times, CIOs cannot be mere providers of storage, apps or other pieces in IT, but instead they need to think and act like internal services organisations that are measured on outcomes by LoB heads. In essence, the CIO and his team must move away from the simple act of technology provision to that of services orchestration. The CIO needs to act as an internal service provider rather than being one of the ‘server hugging’ roles. He must enable his team to implement technology that supports newer initiatives on Cloud, Big Data, Mobility and social technologies. A CIO must understand how a CFO and a CMO functions. His knowledge about the working of the two roles needs to be foolproof to help in maximising profits,” says Gogia.

The fact is that quantum of IT investments has gone up. Explaining a very realistic situation, Pendse says that in a few businesses it is even as high as 6-10 percent of turnover, thus attracting the CFO and making him consider personally monitoring the same by taking IT investment matters in his or her own hands. With the dawn of the age of the customer, CMOs expect IT-driven innovation in acquiring and retaining customers, building brands, etc. They expect utmost agility from IT people and expect them to be aware of business challenges to such an extent that the IT team should be able to give the CMO proactive and agile support in beating marketing challenges in the marketplace.

“If CIOs address these changed expectations with the same old mindset, then it will no longer be tolerated by CMOs, CEOs, CFOs and the like. Bureaucracy expected by the IT functions in general may no longer go well with the C-level executives now. An overemphasis on security / policies / processes, coming in the way of IT-driven business innovations may now sound like a draconian thought to business leaders. The ‘overly safe’ approach of some CIOs may no longer go well with the business; they expect quick decisions, readiness to experiment and a fail-fast approach,” says Pendse.

The way IT works also needs to the re-thought. “Turnaround time expected is in terms of days and weeks; no longer months and years. Doing everything in-house may now be seen as non-agile. The way to address the said job threat is to adopt and drive these and such other cultural changes proactively and immediately. The comfort with a CIO in the minds of business leaders should be so high that the thought of entering into his role fully or partially should not even cross their minds,” advises Pendse.

Sethi shares some golden rules for CIOs to live by to ward of any threat from other C-level peers poaching into the CIO role. He says, “Help improve compliance levels in all aspects of working of the organisation, help improve environment and help the organisation in discharging its social obligations and build an IT organisation that is contemporary in its skills, approach, thinking and actions and is agile and has policies and processes that are customer-centric.”

 Are you getting through to the big guy?

All said and done, in the end, it’s the CEO’s blessings that CIOs needs to have on their side for all IT initiatives, big and small. Both Sethi and Nagaraj feel that with mobility, social and cloud computing becoming the order of the day, CEOs are quite tech savvy. But unfortunately, says Nagaraj, CEOs do not understand beyond the cosmetic layer of the technology usage value proposition. They are aware of the risks in adoption of these technologies. So, if the CIO can roll out business initiatives enabled by the cloud, riding the wave of mobility and integrating into the social fabric of their customers and leverage it to gain a competitive edge in the market place, it can really help the CEO view the CIO as a very able member at the round table.

Pendse shares some great advice for building up the CIO-CEO rapport. “CIO needs to be seen more with the CEO and other C-level executives. Ideally he should be seen outside of his own department for more than 50 percent of the time. He and his key members should get a full understanding of the business domain, its challenges and opportunities, key priorities, the five-year business strategic plan, competitive scenario, etc. He should make himself a part of strategic business discussions with C-level executives. At the same time the CIO should keep educating the CEO and other C-level executives in various aspects of IT and futuristic IT developments. He should become the conduit for the CEO to get to know current and future IT, especially all that is relevant to the business of the organisation.”

There is no doubt that the CIO’s role has undergone a sea change in the recent past and is susceptible to even more transformation with disruptions affecting the technology domain at such a mind boggling pace. But, the onus lies entirely on the CIO to mould and adapt on demand and emerge as a true leader, guiding the organisation to newer heights.

Source: Firstbiz

The Social CIO #Press #Media

Enterprise technology decision makers are increasingly leveraging social network and technologies to foster growth in their organisations.

Social technologies are playing a major role in fostering growth among organisations and enterprise technology decision makers are leveraging social networks in numerous innovative ways. There are some key verticals like BFSI, telecom, retail and hospitality which is using social technologies to reach out to their customers. Interacting with the customers on a regular basis allows enterprises to know their requirements and this helps in coming up with offers or products that are liked by the customers.

According to Atul Nigam, CIO, Micromax India, “Social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Linkden allows us to reach our customers and get to know what are their requirements. CIOs can play a major role in providing apt business analytics to identify a specific trend and that helps in coming up with offers/promotions which customers can relate to. Our company has seen tremendous growth in the last five to six years and for us to sustain this growth rate, we need to know our customers better and social technologies plays an integral role in identifying this.”

Enterprise technology decision makers are leveraging social technologies to provide analytical insights about consumers. This in turn is helping enterprises to be more customer-friendly and focussed in their approach.

According to Sanchit Vir Gogia, Chief Analyst and CEO, Greyhound Research, IT organizations are struggling to deal with the invasion of multiple consumer-driven social technologies inside corporate firewalls. Employees continue to use these tools — with or without IT’s knowledge and approval — to help them improve their performance and do their work more efficiently. Employee adoption is catalysing many companies in Asia Pacific to proactively use (or at least plan to use) social tools as part of their IT setup, giving users the choice to adopt new tools to improve productivity and hence improve employee satisfaction.

CIOs across verticals agree that social analytics can play a key role in enhancing customer experience.

According to KK Chaudhary, CIO, Lanco Infratech, “I vouch for social analytics and I have witnessed many of my peers helping out their marketing team in getting to know different aspects of customer behaviour. Although, we are into power and do not need to interact with our customers via social medium, but I feel there are many verticals where one needs to interact directly to the customers and social technologies helps a lot of achieving this feat. At Lanco, we use internal social tool which helps in connecting with the employees and also makes them updated with the new developments in the organisation.”

Source: CIO & Leader

Catch Greyhound Research as a Knowledge Partner at CIO Leadership Retreat 2014 #Event #Media #Press #CIO #CLRIndia

What is the event all about? 

Today’s most advanced and complicated IT technology landscape poses unprecedented challenges and needless to say that an isolated approach never can address these challenges. This is only possible with a strong, mutually understood IT partnership, which not only addresses the challenges but also provide an in-depth view of upcoming obstacles. The 2014 edition of CIO Leadership Retreat (CLR) unveils unique insights on the role IT Leadership and IT partnerships that are poised to pave success in a new business climate that warrants organizations to aim for higher operational efficiency and better customer responsiveness.

Increasing expectations from customers, emergence of advanced technologies, demand for higher operational efficiency, higher RoI etc have forced CIOs today to review their strategies and to look for effective result oriented IT partnerships. 2014 edition of CLR is an opportunity for you to discuss with experts on how to streamline your IT operations and make them agile and responsive to your client needs. You will also learn about the Power of Partnership and how to identify the right partner.

Primarily focused on Power of IT Partnership, CLR 2014 will address these four key areas:

  • Addressing business expectations with operational efficiency
  • Identifying right IT partner for tomorrow
  • SMAC for a dynamic future
  • Is cost optimazion enough for your business growth?

Greyhound Research is proud to associate with the forum as a Knowledge Partner and our Chief Analyst & CEO, Sanchit Vir Gogia, will be a delivering a keynote and leading a panel discussion at the event which will have industry stalwarts to join and learn from each others’ experiences. Sanchit will share his rich expertise and perspective on the rise of emerging technologies and its future in enterprises. Backed up by solid user case studies, Sanchit will be sharing best practices for organizations looking at using external partners to launch strategic IT projects.

Have a question?

To read our latest thought leadership, check out our latest blogs. Click here.

Catch our media mentions in some of the world’s best publications. Click here.

Have more questions? Tweet to us - @s_v_g@Greyhound_R or email us on connect@greyhoundgroup.com and we’ll get the conversation brewing! Don’t forget to add #CLRIndia if you are tweeting to us!

When & Where?

14th and 15th February 2014 at Lonavala, India.

Source: CIO Leadership Retreat

Catch Greyhound Research as a Knowledge Partner at CXO Leadership Retreat 2013 #Event #Media #Press #CIO #CLRIndia

What is the event all about? 

The Indian Economy is experiencing its worst slowdown in nearly a decade on the back of global contractionary headwinds, domestic macro-economic imbalances and policy reversals on the fiscal front. With growth pegged at below 5%, Businesses are under severe pressure to readjust to the new normal. With a fundamentally sound economy, coupled with measures to encourage foreign investment and rein in government spending, India is poised to tide over the present crisis and better her growth rate.

The current situation, however, has meant that businesses should aim for higher operational efficiency and better customer responsiveness in order to continue on their high growth trajectory. The 2013 edition of CXO Leadership Retreat (CXR) provides unique insights on the role that IT leaders should be taking to survive and come out trumps in this new business climate.

IT systems are expected to meet high standards of operation, while offering round-the-clock availability, security and performance. In today’s environment, businesses have to keep pace with the constant changes in IT, performance demands, and pressure to deliver competitive IT functionality. The 2013 edition of CXR is an opportunity for IT leaders to discuss with experts about how to streamline their IT operations and make them agile and responsive to their client needs. They will also learn about the power of partnership and how to identify the right partner to meet their business & IT requirements.

Shaped around the theme ‘Driving Business Excellence by leveraging the Power of Partnership’, CXR 2013 will address these four key areas:

  1. Thinking beyond cost optimisation
  2. Operational efficacy in-line with Business expectations
  3. Becoming ready for a Social, Mobile, Cloud, Analytics (SMAC) Future
  4. The road to identifying the right partners

Greyhound Research is proud to associate with the forum as a Knowledge Partner and our CEO, Sanchit Vir Gogia, will be a delivering a keynote and leading a panel discussion at the event which will have industry stalwarts to join and learn from each others’ experiences. Sanchit will share his rich expertise and perspective on the rise of emerging technologies and its future in enterprises. Backed up by solid user case studies, Sanchit will be sharing best practices for organizations looking at using external partners to launch strategic IT projects.

Have a question?

To read our latest thought leadership, check out our latest blogs. Click here.

Catch our media mentions in some of the world’s best publications. Click here.

Have more questions? Tweet to us - @s_v_g@Greyhound_R or email us on connect@greyhoundgroup.com and we’ll get the conversation brewing! Don’t forget to add #CLRIndia if you are tweeting to us!

When & Where?

6th and 7th December 2013 at Vivanta by Taj – Surajkund, NCR.

Source: CXO Leadership Retreat

Catch Greyhound Research as a Knowledge Partner at CXO Leadership Retreat 2013 #Event #Media #Press #CIO #CLRIndia

What is the event all about? 

The Indian Economy is experiencing its worst slowdown in nearly a decade on the back of global contractionary headwinds, domestic macro-economic imbalances and policy reversals on the fiscal front. With growth pegged at below 5%, Businesses are under severe pressure to readjust to the new normal. With a fundamentally sound economy, coupled with measures to encourage foreign investment and rein in government spending, India is poised to tide over the present crisis and better her growth rate.

The current situation, however, has meant that businesses should aim for higher operational efficiency and better customer responsiveness in order to continue on their high growth trajectory. The 2013 edition of CXO Leadership Retreat (CXR) provides unique insights on the role that IT leaders should be taking to survive and come out trumps in this new business climate.

IT systems are expected to meet high standards of operation, while offering round-the-clock availability, security and performance. In today’s environment, businesses have to keep pace with the constant changes in IT, performance demands, and pressure to deliver competitive IT functionality. The 2013 edition of CXR is an opportunity for IT leaders to discuss with experts about how to streamline their IT operations and make them agile and responsive to their client needs. They will also learn about the power of partnership and how to identify the right partner to meet their business & IT requirements.

Shaped around the theme ‘Driving Business Excellence by leveraging the Power of Partnership’, CXR 2013 will address these four key areas:

  1. Thinking beyond cost optimisation
  2. Operational efficacy in-line with Business expectations
  3. Becoming ready for a Social, Mobile, Cloud, Analytics (SMAC) Future
  4. The road to identifying the right partners

Greyhound Research is proud to associate with the forum as a Knowledge Partner and our CEO, Sanchit Vir Gogia, will be a delivering a keynote and leading a panel discussion at the event which will have industry stalwarts to join and learn from each others’ experiences. Sanchit will share his rich expertise and perspective on the rise of emerging technologies and its future in enterprises. Backed up by solid user case studies, Sanchit will be sharing best practices for organizations looking at using external partners to launch strategic IT projects.

Have a question?

To read our latest thought leadership, check out our latest blogs. Click here.

Catch our media mentions in some of the world’s best publications. Click here.

Have more questions? Tweet to us - @s_v_g@Greyhound_R or email us on connect@greyhoundgroup.com and we’ll get the conversation brewing! Don’t forget to add #CLRIndia if you are tweeting to us!

When & Where?

6th and 7th December 2013 at Vivanta by Taj – Surajkund, NCR.

Source: CXO Leadership Retreat

Big data: Hadoop #Press #Media

For the past couple of years, Android and iOS fans have been at loggerheads as to which operating system—and therefore, smartphone—is better over the other. And these wars have spilled on to the comments sections of smartphone manufacturer forums for customers, gadget review websites, social networking platforms and the like.

To most people this may seem like mindless banter, but to companies manufacturing these devices, they can tap into useful customer sentiment effectively, by going through all this information. They can derive meaningful insights out of this data and convert them into results that translate into features and functionality on upcoming models. So far so good. However, it is this “gather, filter, derive, and translate” part that has most organizations wound up in knots.

The industry today is abuzz with talks of big data and how enterprises need to look at the famed ‘Vs’ of data: velocity, volume, variety and value. And choose a path that makes the business case for Business Intelligence (BI) and analytics.

Enterprises today are seeing volumes of data being generated not only from within their enterprise applications but also from customer and industry interactions on the Internet, social media, mobile devices and machines as sensor data or logs.

According to Sanchit Vir Gogia, Chief Analyst & CEO of Greyhound Research, as consumers are using more touch points such as mobile, Internet and social to obtain information, enterprises are looking at providing this information at every touch point in context to the consumer. And putting this information in context is key to big data, as content in context is proving to be the king.

However, to do so, an enterprise first needs to understand how it would draw information from various data sources and how it can be used in a context that will bring business value to the enterprise.

And it is the diversity of information, its nature as structured or unstructured, the speed at which it is getting generated and the volume that decides the approach the enterprise needs to take toward big data, something that organizations are in various stages of either understanding or implementing. Here, we look at how Hadoop as an approach to big data is starting to make sense for enterprises on a big data journey.

Why go the Hadoop way?

Most enterprises looking at a big data analytics implementation would typically have an enterprise data warehouse or some sort of a structured database already in place, which gives them access to business data in a fairly defined way and allows them to make business decisions based on this information.

However, many organizations are now seeing data from multiple sources, a lot of which is unstructured. At the consumer side, people are accessing data from different devices and using different channels such as social media, websites, Internet forums and video to express their sentiments. At the enterprise side, manufacturing equipment, network devices, smart devices, etc. are generating machine data which though fairly structured, is coming into the enterprise at a rate which is beyond the capabilities of traditional database solutions.

Traditional data warehousing solutions which work with structured data, are not quite equipped to handle unstructured data. Hadoop, with its HDFS file system, can store a variety of data that can be processed using tools specifically written for Hadoop-based file systems. And this is what is making it an interesting proposition for big data analytics.

According to Santhosh D’Souza, Director – Systems Engineering, NetApp India, the nature of data consumption creation and analysis in web scale environments has translated extremely quickly into enterprises as well. Enterprises have already started experiencing the problem of scale with data that Yahoo and Google have faced before, which led them to work on Web Scale or MapReduce.

“The increasing amount of collaboration or social media type of applications within enterprises, have also contributed to the amount of data going in and coming out of enterprise applications to present a scenario where Hadoop becomes one of the answers,” says D’Souza.

Speaking about the merits of Hadoop and how vendors like NetApp are able to leverage on it he says, “A Hadoop system can scale out to a large extent. We can scale up to 69 petabytes for a single logical namespace and can build multiple such logical namespaces. It can also deal with structured data and has a wide variety of applications which can use it as a data store.”

Amit Gupta, Senior Business Intelligence Architect, Persistent Systems, explains, “Hadoop’s MapReduce programming paradigm allows any type of data to be processed in any programming language to provide flexibility and low entry barrier for developers. The Hive interface on Hadoop provides a layer of database metadata that can be used to define table structures on Hadoop files, and allows users to browse and process data using standard SQL commands.”

“Many commercial and open source ETL tools utilize the Pig interface to push heavy data processing to Hadoop for warehousing and data integration tasks. This helps in bringing down ETL server and license costs to achieve scalability with Hadoop,” adds Gupta.

Srinivasan Govindarajalu, Senior Director and Practice head – DWBI, Virtusa Corporation giving a similar opinion says, “Most enterprises are quite happy using Hadoop for back end processes like for ETL and storage. As opposed to popular belief, Hadoop is getting adopted a lot from a storage point of view, such that many experts are describing the use of Hadoop for storage as unsupervised digital landfill.”

Anil Bajpai, Senior Vice President and Head of Research and Innovation, iGate, shares a similar opinion and says, “Hadoop can handle data better especially if it is coming from multiple structured or unstructured sources. It is also becoming relevant for most organizations as it offers a cost-effective way of processing huge amounts of data. Cost, can be an issue from an in-memory or enterprise data warehouse perspective as anything over a terabyte runs into exorbitant costs.”

In-memory and Hadoop

Hadoop may offer a cost-effective way of data storage for big data analytics, but when it comes to performance, in-memory has been gaining popularity in India for the last one year or more. A lot of organizations which have had traditional enterprise data warehouses, have looked at adopting in-memory as it offers near real-time analytical performance and works with structured data, which today continues to add a lot more business value than unstructured data.

Says Gogia of Greyhound, ”The biggest fallacy about big data is that it is all about unstructured data. The largest amount of big data analytics is happening around structured data today, and it continues to be the most critical decision making factor.”

Therefore, in-memory is finding a lot of adoption within the country which currently has most enterprise environments working largely with structured data. According to Seshadri Rangarajan, CTO, BIM, Global Service Line, Capgemini India, in-memory is finding greater adoption than Hadoop in India and particularly for SAP’s HANA, as India is a major SAP market with a lot of organizations having implemented SAP within their enterprise. For performance related challenges that the enterprises face from an ERP or a data warehouse perspective, HANA provides an immediate solution.

However, in-memory works best with structured data and has limitations on memory beyond which it becomes a cost-intensive proposition. As enterprises get more into predictive and advanced analytics, they would need large volumes of data to work with and here the acceptance of Hadoop will grow.

According to Dinesh Jain, Country Manager, Teradata India, only 5 percent of unstructured data is usable data. Hadoop can therefore be used for staging the unstructured data, gathering meaningful data out of it and then running analytics on top of it. It’s a tiered approach wherein the storage platform or staging area is Hadoop based. Then there is a data warehouse which is front ended by in-memory. The in-memory database grabs the data from data mart which in turn gets filtered data from the Hadoop storage.

He explains this with an example and says, “If you have website data which is one petabyte and you are loading that in Hadoop, you have a data warehouse which is 200 TB, only 5-10 terabytes of it will go for in-memory.” He is of the view that memory is expensive therefore rather than trying to put hundreds of terabytes of memory to load the entire data warehouse, the enterprise can simply look at loading that part of it into memory which is frequently asked for by business users.

Rangarajan of Capgemini feels that at this point, most enterprises are looking at real time analytics, and not looking at petabytes of data, and in-memory technologies have been able to support more than 100 terabytes of data. Over a period however, Hadoop will be seen as a complementary advantage to in-memory as the volume of data grows.

“In future, we see Hadoop becoming the underlying data store while the data which is needed for real-time analytics, will be available in memory. As the latency of this data increases, it would be moved to a Hadoop based storage where it would be looked at for historical and predictive analytics,” says Rangarajan.

Greg Kleiman, Director – Strategy, Red Hat Storage, shares a similar opinion and says that on the price to performance basis, users can afford to pay a premium for in-memory because usually, big data is data in motion and it has to be processed in near real-time, as it is coming in at a very high rate. Hadoop, on the other hand, is built for data at rest and for unstructured data.

“A lot of enterprises combine in-memory and Hadoop such that they take the real time data feed, and use in-memory database to analyze that data in real time. When they’re done with the analytics, they put the result in Hadoop and can then run historical trends on that data which is now at rest,” explains Kleiman.

Rangarajan is also of the view that in the current scenario, data with low latency moves into in-memory, and data with high latency moves into Hadoop. However, he believes that we will move toward an area where we will need to bring the computing power to where the data is, rather than taking the data to where the computing power is. It is slowly moving to a scenario wherein enterprises can generate the data, have real time analytics while processing large volumes of data for historical analysis.

Tarun Kaura, Director – Technology Sales, India and SAARC, Symantec believes that the decision to go with Hadoop or in-memory will depend on whether the organization is looking at structured or unstructured data, the response times that it is looking for from the analytical framework and the associated costs.

Challenges around Hadoop

It may seem like Hadoop will fit perfectly into an enterprise’s big data plans. However, the approach, though around for a while now, has only started to find adoption recently. There are several reasons why it’s taken a while for Hadoop to catch on with the Indian audience.

Firstly, the approach requires in-depth understanding of Hadoop, the HDFS file system and the associated tools that in many cases, need to be built ground up to suit the organization’s data warehousing requirements. Though popular with developers, the approach has not found any initial mainstream adoption due to the considerable amount of coding required.

Furthermore, Hadoop has largely been an open source effort, due to which the development and support has largely been community based. Given this fact, Hadoop lacked enterprise grade product offerings and support until recently, which further saw it failing to gain good traction among enterprise customers.

Finally, though data storage is cheaper with Hadoop, the investment in the infrastructure and the associated tools, the skillset and the management efforts required, push the total cost of ownership or TCO further, making it somewhat unpopular with enterprises experimenting with the technology approach.

Jain of Teradata is of the view that Hadoop skill set is not available in abundance. While people are getting trained and a lot of system integrators are creating competence in Hadoop, even if they are put to work, the usability of the platform by the user will remain a challenge for a very long time.

“In a relational database, you can directly have the user look at data and work with it. If the data is stored in a tabular format, it is very easy for everyone to understand. With the Hadoop file system, you need a high amount of technical manpower to pull meaningful information out of it. The fundamental architecture of the Hadoop file system is complex and therefore this challenge will always exist,” he says.

Govindarajalu of Virtusa shares a similar perspective and says, “The Hadoop architecture is quite complex and deployment is not as straightforward as some of the proprietary BI solutions. It does not come neatly packaged, and you need developers and solution architects to put a Hadoop-based big data infrastructure together.”

He also feels that while the Hadoop approach is good for analyzing data, the visualization layer is not that mature and therefore enterprises would need to interface with visualization tools offered by organizations such as QlikView, SAS, etc.

Kleiman of Red Hat says, “With in-memory, the analytics part is much more mature while with Hadoop it is still pretty new. An enterprise looking at an analytics solution won’t care much about the infrastructure but would care about the value of analytics and what they can get out of their data to help business increase revenue or get more competitive.”

Talking about the skill set part he says, “The skillset on the IT side on building a Hadoop infrastructure is fairly mature. The area that is catching up is the data analytics and the data scientist side of things. That part is still pretty immature globally and in India. There is very good talent in India on the building side, but not much on the analytics and data scientist side.”

He also observes that typically an enterprise won’t undertake a Hadoop implementation due to the complexities involved and hire a system integrator to do it for them. Hadoop is still a developing skill and a lot of SIs are still learning how to do it and therefore it is going to take longer for Hadoop to find traction.

Finding acceptance

Despite all the challenges that make Hadoop adoption seem difficult, the benefits that it promises in the long term have the industry working toward making its adoption easier. Many of the challenges are due to the lack of maturity of the Hadoop ecosystem from a big data perspective, something which would change over time, as IT vendors are developing solutions at all levels of a Hadoop infrastructure. Due to its largely open nature, Hadoop is easily available to vendor organizations who are working towards building connectors that can help enterprises interface the Hadoop architecture with their existing enterprise data warehouse or in-memory investments.

Explains D’Souza of NetApp, “Vendors like us are looking to arrive at a reference configuration for specific use cases and then depend on the data services and data management vendor to provide an end-to-end support for the entire solution. Therefore, our focus has been to work with Hadoop distributions such as Cloudera and Hortonworks to develop reference architectures and validated configurations.”

What this would essentially do is allow the enterprise to deploy the entire gamut of data stores, where there will be in-memory, relational, NoSQL, and Hadoop file system based data stores. The front end applications have already developed and people will continue to develop connectors to each of these data stores so that once an enterprise arrives at the disparate type of data, they will have the luxury of choosing the kind of data store they want to put the data into.

Bajpai explains iGate’s efforts in this area, by talking about a big data analytics framework which the company is working on and expects to be ready in the next couple of months. The framework would allow taking data from sources that are structured, unstructured, paper-based, electronic, machine to machine, and validate, verify, test and store this data using various Hadoop tools on a public cloud.

It would also look to present the data across different channels and devices, such that the results are produced instantaneously in a way best suited for the user, in various formats. This accelerated big data analytics platform can be utilized across various verticals. The framework will look at how enterprises take a business case, and visualize data to give solutions for that business scenario.

Capgemini’s Rangarajan says, ”The challenge with Hadoop is that SQL is a sort of a-de facto standard for reading and analyzing data. When Hadoop came, people needed to know Java and other technologies. However, the evolution has led to SQL becoming the standard for Hadoop as well. It’s a relief for both system integrators and the industry as there have already been a lot of investments that have happened for doing analytics from an SQL point of view. Almost all the leading vendors are developing SQL connectors on top of Hadoop.”

All of this is helping Hadoop find acceptance as an enterprise database to complement the existing data warehouse. He believes that as enterprises start talking about Internet of things and next-generation applications, we will start seeing Hadoop getting embedded in applications of the future. In a year or two, we will start seeing a connector to Hadoop being available for most technologies.

While most vendors report interest from various industry verticals to leverage on Hadoop, it would be interesting to see a few real-world examples that talk about how Hadoop has opened doors beyond enterprise data warehouse and in-memory approaches.

Source: Express Computer