Big Data in Boston

by Jon Follett

The Mass Technology Leadership Council held its annual Big Data Summit yesterday at the Microsoft New England Research and Development Center in Cambridge, MA. The sold out event was attended by a broad cross-section of the Boston tech community with engineers, designers, venture capitalists and business managers all coming together to discuss the future of Big Data in the Bay State. Massachusetts is well positioned to take advantage of the coming boom in big data according to a recent MassTLC white paper that reviews both the current lay of the land and future opportunities.

The summit featured two panel discussions, "Crossing the Big Data Chasm", and "From Hype to Reality" as well as a keynote by IBM VP for Business Analytics Products and Solutions, Deepak Advani. I found the second panel particularly intruiging as technical leaders from Kyruus, Cloundant, EMC Greenplum and DataXu, dove into the nitty gritty problems of building software to handle big data.

As consumers and businesses generate new information at an unprecedented pace, the buzz around big data and its management, storage, processing and analysis, is building to a crescendo. Our lives are becoming increasingly digital, and the consequences of that digitization is a deluge of data from every conceivable source. Social media, the most noticeable example of our new digital lives, creates terabytes of data every day. Every second, there are thousands of credit card transactions around the world. And, according to a recent McKinsey report on "Big data: The next frontier for innovation, competition, and productivity", the US Library of Congress amassed 235 terabytes of data in just one month. Analyst firm IDC predicted in June that over 1.8 zettabytes would be created and replicated in 2011. The often mentioned, three "V"s of Big Data — velocity, volume, variety — essentially boil down to a lot of bits and bytes coming at us fast, from many sources. These terabytes to petabytes to exabytes of data can be extremely difficult, if not impossible to manage with typical database software tools.

In Massachusetts, we have deep university expertise and research at institutions like MIT, established big infrastructure players like Akamai and EMC, data management companies like Netezza (recently purchased by IBM), analytics firms like Crimson Hexagon and startups of all stripes. The MassTLC report "Big Data and Analytics" estimates that there are 100 big data related companies in Massachusetts with an additional 20 in stealth mode.

As a software design firm steeped in big data and analytics, Involution looks forward to contributing to this growing sector in meaningful ways. Our current slate of big data related projects includes software design for health care systems automation with client CodeRyte and infoviz on dektop and mobile platforms for marketing research global leader Survey Sampling International. Past work includes UI and analytics for AstraZeneca, Curl, PTC, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services among others.

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Topics: Design, big data, ibm, infovis, MassTLC, Ideas, EMC, analytics, Blog, UX, ui