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Overhauling the data center is no easy process

Rachel Wheeler Archive

The corporate world is currently ushering in an era of explosive growth in big data, collecting more information on its customers than ever before. With that growth in the amount of data they collect comes an insatiable need for businesses to change the way they store all that information. Naturally, the next question is this - is it time for companies to overhaul their data centers entirely?

Obviously, it's no longer feasible for chief information officers to store all their data locally on employees' hard drives. The next step in that progression is dedicating large physical facilities to data storage, perhaps even entire buildings.

Some believe that the true titans of big data have graduated from even this stage. With the volumes of information they've collected, it's not realistic or cost-effective anymore for them to continue with in-house storage. Data warehousing may now need to be outsourced, or information will have to be stored permanently in the cloud.

According to ZDNet, the process of overhauling data centers is a hot topic being discussed in corporate boardrooms around the world. Shaun Connolly, vice president of corporate strategy at software company Hortonworks, says that large-scale conversions of data storage methods are in the works, but companies should still proceed with caution.

"Beware of the hype," Connolly warned. "There is much talk of the death of the enterprise data warehouse. As much as that grabs a headline, the reality is not so extreme. From the beginning, our vision at Hortonworks has been focused on enabling a next-generation data architecture that seamlessly integrates both existing and new data systems (spanning application databases, data warehouses, Hadoop and others) in a way that unlocks new business value while preserving existing investments."

Making an enormous move with a company's data is a long, arduous process. It requires a lot of time, money and technical expertise, and it may lead to hiccups in the operations of IT workers who hope to remain productive even during the transition. It's a scary proposition.

According to ZDNet, Gartner's Merv Adrian recently noted that 30 percent of enterprises are already using big data, and another 34 percent plan to implement it within the next 12-24 months. That's a very large portion of the corporate world making the switch, and they have many priorities.

Some focus on gathering more information. Others emphasize data quality. Still others want to bring in more data philosophers to interpret and act on information.

Clearly, storage is only one small part of the puzzle. Those taking the plunge into big data in 2013 have a lot on their minds.