June 4, 2011

Dirty data, stored dirt cheap

A major driver of Hadoop adoption is the “big bit bucket” use case. Users take a whole lot of data, often machine-generated data in logs of different kinds, and dump it into one place, managed by Hadoop, at open-source pricing. Hadoop hardware doesn’t need to be that costly either. And once you get that data into Hadoop, there are a whole lot of things you can do with it.

Of course, there are various outfits who’d like to sell you not-so-cheap bit buckets. Contending technologies include Hadoop appliances (which I don’t believe in), Splunk (which in many use cases I do), and MarkLogic (ditto, but often the cases are different from Splunk’s). Cloudera and IBM, among other vendors, would also like to sell you some proprietary software to go with your standard Apache Hadoop code.

So the question arises — why would you want to spend serious money to look after your low-value data? The answer, of course, is that maybe your log data isn’t so low-value. True, the signal-to-noise ratio in purely machine-generated data is rarely high (web logs and so on may be an exception). But if the signal is sufficiently important, the overall data set may have decent average value. Intelligence work is one case where the occasional black swan might justify gilded cages for the whole aviary; the same might go for other forms of especially paranoid security.

For example, I was told of one big bank that was pulling 5 GB of logs every half hour into Splunk (selected for performance), or at least planning to. The application was forensics to protect against internal fraudulent trading, something that’s been a multi-hundred million or even multi-billion dollar problem at various investment banks in the past. I have no idea what the retention policy on those logs is, but clearly the core application can support higher-than-Hadoop pricing.

Comments

9 Responses to “Dirty data, stored dirt cheap”

  1. Tony on June 4th, 2011 9:48 pm

    Retention policy on logs is the higher value of what regulators require and what beliefs in hidden value justify.

    Of course, if technologies such as those you mention do extract most of the value from logs, value remaining might not justify retention, just as dirt from which gold or silver has been sifted is just dirt.

  2. Stefan Groschupf on June 4th, 2011 10:01 pm

    We see a lot of use cases where customers try to understand interaction (clickstream, CRM events, etc) rather than transaction (traditional BI and DW) to increase conversion rates etc.

    Also, we see excitement around Hadoop virtual removing the limitations of storage and compute (or lowers $). This allows the storage of raw (as is) data in structured or unstructured formats.
    Doing so eliminates heavy, time consuming and expansive ETL processes since the data can be model ‘on read’ as part of an analytics pipeline, rather than data needs to be pre modeled and pre optimized to fit into a star-schema in a EDW.

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