Big data: EMC on a market in flux and why global datacentres are still years away

Is big data ready to go beyond the hype and into IT infrastructure?

In the last month, 'big data' has become big news. Oracle for one has unveiled two appliances - Big Data and Exalytics - as part of its assault on this market, which promises to allow businesses to take the unstructured data they gather - information from social media, sensors or CCTV, for example - and mine it for useful insights.

The launch of the pair this month at Oracle's OpenWorld conference, coupled with its recent purchase of Endeca, shows how the market is hotting up. But it's not only Oracle looking keenly at this market - EMC is also targeting the same market with its Greenplum big data software and appliances.

COO of information infrastructure products Pat Gelsinger

EMC's Pat Gelsinger, who joined the company in 2009, says the big data market is still relatively youngPhoto: EMC

EMC's COO of information infrastructure products Pat Gelsinger also made an appearance at OpenWorld, with EMC as one of Oracle's partners. So how does Gelsinger see the new competition, now both Oracle and EMC are interested in big data?

"We're both pursuing this big, new, emerging market that [big data] is enabling. It hasn't been done before. I don't know if we're going to be co-operative or competitive yet on that level," Gelsinger added.

A market undecided

The market is a relatively young one, and consequently much about it is in flux, according to Gelsinger.

"This is a huge new market - neither one of [EMC and Oracle] could necessarily look at it and say, 'This is how it will work out'," he said.

"It's way too presumptive to say we've got that all figured out... There is so much activity going on in the space," Gelsinger added.

But with a market so much up in the air, how does any company go about working up products, let alone those that businesses may actually need?

"By creating a bandwagon and jumping on it as fast as you can," Clive Longbottom, founding analyst at Quocirca, told

And that bandwagon is in full swing. The big data market, according to Longbottom, was born out of the oil and gas market, where every explosion a company set off would generate 20 terabytes of information.

Today, it's being pitched by vendors at a far wider spectrum of industries and evidently with some success - according to...