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Avoid a big data mess by learning and applying an architectural approach with Info-Tech’s blueprint, Create a Customized Big Data Architecture and Implementation Plan

Big data is moving beyond hype into solutions that are providing real insight and business value. It is no longer the elephant in the room that nobody wants to talk about: it is a growing ecosystem of data, technology, and resources that everyone wants to understand more about, and do something with.

So why is this ecosystem so complex? Well, big data itself is complex: in fact there still isn’t consensus on what it actually is; there is only a set of attributes that try to describe what it is, and even those aren’t consistent across the industry. Our definition of Big Data is “rapidly increasing amounts of data, generated by multiple sources, in many formats; analyzed for new insights.” Essentially a paraphrase of the traditional 3 V’s: Volume, Variety, Velocity – with added aspects of Veracity and Value.

In contrast, traditional data comes from known sources, at controlled volumes, with understandable content. Therefore, it’s no surprise that big data architecture is different from traditional data architecture. Today’s data architects are trying to understand the ecosystem, and deal with the paradigm shift that big data is causing in their knowledge and capabilities in data architecture.

The big differences in big data architecture include:

  • Big data architecture starts with the data itself, taking a bottom-up approach. Decisions about data influence decisions about components that use data.
  • Big data introduces new data sources such as social media content and streaming data.
  • The enterprise data warehouse (EDW) becomes a source for big data, rather than a destination for transactional data.
  • The variety of big and unstructured data requires new types of persistence.
  • Data persistence is horizontal, not vertical.
  • NoSQL is very different from SQL.

Architecture is much more about making decisions than creating specifications. Big data architecture requires decisions in four primary layers:

  1. Data: what kind of data is part of the organization’s big data value chain?
  2. Data Integration: how is the data captured and integrated for analytics?
  3. Data Persistence: how and where does the data need to be stored for analytics?
  4. Data Analytics: what types of analytics does the organization need to perform?

Understanding how the organization wants to leverage big data through selection of a business pattern will help with decisions about data. Data sources, types, and volumes will influence decisions about data integration and persistence technology. How the data is organized and persisted will influence decisions about what types of analysis technology is required.

Setting principles and guidelines about the use of Open Source Software (OSS) vs. vendor solutions can also influence architecture decisions. Given that most of the big data solutions originated out of OSS, the decision to use or not use OSS is a little more difficult than traditional approaches to the problem.

Without a structured approach to big data architecture, organizations could find themselves in a Big Data Mess: they risk their existing data architecture being unable to handle big data, eventually resulting in a failure that could compromise the entire data environment. Also, they risk solutions being picked in an ad hoc manner, which could cause incompatibility issues down the road.

With the rapid change of big data and associated technologies, governance is critical to maintain structure and organization in the big data environment. Big data architecture will help establish the governance structure and boundaries, and anticipate change. An Architectural Review Board and Change Management processes will be very helpful to ensuring the big data architecture continues to work smoothly and effectively into the future.

Avoid a big data mess by learning and applying an architectural approach to big data with Info-Tech’s blueprint, Create a Customized Big Data Architecture and Implementation Plan.

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We have just introduced a great opportunity for our Ontario clients to gain powerful insights into new IT research in an engaging workshop – at no cost. Info-Tech Research Group has zero-cost, interactive Pilot Workshops available to Ontario clients for 2-day sessions during the week of:

October 28 to November 1 (pending scoping call & analyst availability)Applications and Infrastructure

Be among the first to discover new developments in IT research, and take part in test-driving it to ensure top performance. These dynamic, 2-day workshops will be delivered by our Senior Consulting Analysts – on-site at your location. Your team will collaborate with subject matter experts to create action plans and completed project deliverables.

Sign up now for these workshops – available on a first come, first served basis.

Info-Tech Pilot Workshops

IT Applications

  1. Optimize your development process for security in an untrusted world BOOKED
  2. Respond to today’s distributed application complexity and development resource constraints by using PaaS
  3. Optimize your enterprise collaboration strategy to enable effective teamwork and knowledge sharing BOOKED
  4. Assess and optimize enterprise architecture capability BOOKED
  5. Develop a Big Data architecture and implementation plan
  6. Optimize Business Intelligence with an operating model BOOKED
  7. Optimize workflows to attain ERP value
  8. Build the IT capabilities to enable digital marketing success

IT Infrastructure

  1. Tackle explosive data growth on a tight storage budget
  2. Build & implement an organic business-driven security governance & management program BOOKED
  3. Develop a hosted or hybrid IP telephony and UC strategy and implementation plan BOOKED
  4. Secure your critical systems and intellectual property against advanced persistent threats
  5. Stop managing end-point devices

BOOK NOW by contacting Will Evanson at or calling (519) 936-2652 ext. 2914. We will then arrange a 30 minute scoping call with our Senior Consulting Analysts to discuss the details of the workshop and schedule the session at your location.

We welcome you and your organization to collaborate in the development of our exciting new research!

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I’ve heard of big data, now what?

Many organizations have heard of big data and are planning big data initiatives. However, many of them don’t exactly know the value associated with big data, how to take advantage of it, or the first steps in launching a project. They’re lacking a strategic plan for big data.96436507

So how do I make sense of the confusion and target their big data efforts?

Big Data is not a problem, it is an opportunity. We believe that organizations should first understand the value that big data presents. Data drives insights, insights drive actions, and actions lead to benefits. Big data is no different. Insights that are previously unnoticed by the organization can be discovered by analyzing big data. With greater volume, variety, and velocity of data, new analytics are made possible and organizations can benefit by acting on these new insights.

Once the value of big data opportunities are understood, organizations can fast track their big data strategies using business patterns.
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The beginning of the twenty-first century brought with it many information technology advances, giving customers unprecedented access to information about anything. As well, the explosion of channels where customers can interact with companies and with each other makes it impossible to keep information about anything hidden anymore. On the flip side, it presents a huge opportunity to make information promotion that much more powerful. The combination of these technological advances transformed customers’ buying patterns from a flat, two-dimensional buyers class to a complex, sophisticated multi-dimensional buyers class. And here lies a formidable challenge for marketing departments: to step up to this new class of twenty-first-century customers.

At Info-Tech we completed an evaluation of different marketing technologies used by our customers to promote products and brands to their clients. We completed three Vendor Landscapes:

As we evaluated vendors in these three spaces, we noticed that almost every vendor is promoting themselves as “Marketing Automation” vendors without any caveats. This loose use of the term could complicate matters for marketing and IT departments seeking to acquire technologies suitable for their needs.

So do you know which vendors to look at? The key to answering this question is to understand which part of your marketing process you need to automate.

We believe that for a solution to be called a “Marketing Automation” solution, it should meet the following criteria:

  • It should cover the end-to-end marketing process
    • Customer business intelligence capabilities with predictive analytics
    • Marketing Resource Management with marketing fund request/approval support, content management, and expense management
    • Campaign execution with the ability to create and run multiple campaign treatments for different products and customer mixes
    • ROI analytics
  • It should cover digital marketing channels (email, webinars, social, and mobile) and some coverage of traditional channels (phone, mail, and in-person events) even through third parties.

So if your company needs to automate the end-to-end marketing process, include marketing automation vendors in your evaluation. Otherwise look into email marketing or lead management automation vendors.

To better align the three, we have added this diagram to each vendor’s slide in the Enterprise Marketing Management Vendor Landscape to illustrate how comprehensive each enterprise marketing management offering is.


Enterprise Marketing Management


If you’d like to discuss this model, or the convergence of various distinct marketing application markets, please schedule a call with one of our analysts through your Account Manager.

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LSP modelThe LAR (large account reseller) is dead. In with the LSP (licensing solutions provider).

Microsoft is rebranding its largest sales force to give it a less “salesy” feel. In reality, are they still resellers? Yes. They are just going to try harder to sell you on devices and cloud services in addition to pushing the usual suspects.

There are a lot of strategic reasons behind this move. As BYOD becomes more prevalent and businesses seek solutions to share user experience across devices, Microsoft wants to become the de facto solution for filling the gap. One competitor that Microsoft specifically mentioned was Android. How is the Android a threat to Microsoft outside of mobility? Android users activate their phones through Gmail accounts, which could translate to Gmail and Google Docs users. As Microsoft is trying to grow O365 usage, it does not want to lose customers to Google Docs or Exchange clients to Gmail.  Microsoft’s push to devices is more than an attempt to simply get into the mobility game, it is a strategy to save and grow their current services.

LARs, now LSPs, already have relationships with companies, so they can naturally offer the devices and cloud services that Microsoft is pushing. As stated in previous posts, Microsoft has a goal of selling 2.1B devices and moving 40% of its business to cloud services, so there are some major changes coming.

Amidst all of the changes, many licensing issues still remain the same. There is still a big push to upsell Software Assurance to clients, and there are still many intricacies to be worked out including licensing transitions for SQL server 2012, Windows Server 2012, and other relatively new products.

The processor to core changes with SQL server have been particularly difficult for many clients and resellers to navigate though and I was assured that there won’t be further changes coming any time soon. They also went over the ways that customers are saving money and how Microsoft will make money through these changes, which was also very insightful. I would suggest seeking additional clarity on these issues when it comes time to license, not only to make sure you are transitioning correctly, but also to ensure that you are not paying for services that you don’t need or won’t use. This falls in line with something I heard a reseller say at the conference: Don’t sell your customers stuff they don’t need.

This side statement from a Microsoft rep was one of the most refreshing things I heard at WPC, and it’s something everyone should take to the bank. Granted, Microsoft genuinely believes you need practically every service they offer, but the sentiment is still nice.

The take home:
Some big changes are happening with licensing. LARs are now called LSPs and have a mandate to push mobility and services. Even with the rebranding, the interest still lies in selling your product. Always be sure to do your research and double-check any questions you might have with an unbiased third party.

Licensing model transitions have been difficult for everybody involved. It is always worth seeking clarification and advice whenever there are changes to your licensing model.

For help saving money and understanding your Microsoft licensing see Info-Tech’s Purchase Optimization solution.

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