Sramana Mitra: Based on where you sit and what you look at on a regular basis, what are some of the open problems from your point of view?
Franz Aman: In the big data space in particular, everyone has jumped on the analysis and understanding of big data, which is entirely understandable. But I think the next trend we are going to see and the next big wave is going to be all about applications and transactions on big data. I think it is an under-served space and opportunity right now. Before we know it, we are going to see the venture capitalists not so much in just the analysis [of] technology [used in] managing big data, but more about transacting on that data and having the same fidelity in transactions that you have with relational databases. Then what is required to bring big data applications to a mobile environment as well.
In that context, the other big trend we are going to see is that we are going to have to do much more in situ with data. The reason is that moving data is still a big problem, and bandwidth is going to lag behind what we would like to have for a long time. If I need to get 20 terabytes to New York, the fastest way is to drive or fly it there. Getting 20 terabytes to New York through a network would take me longer than to just pack it on a disc and fly it there.
Working with data in place and then giving people access to it in interesting ways is a huge challenge, but it is also an opportunity both in terms of visualization and in terms of interaction. I am waiting for the day when Apple announces they are not going to ship a keyboard with their systems. That will happen. At that point we are going to interact only with language and gestures. Those are the ways of exploring data in the places where the data is, even if it is on the other side of the globe. But at the same time we want to see our actions and how we filter or transform the data in real time, by having the relevant bytes packed to us. There are going to be a lot of fun opportunities around this next level of transacting and interacting with big data in remote yet interesting ways.
SM: Are there any more open problems or entrepreneurial opportunities that you want to point out?
FA: To me, turning thoughts into reality is a massive opportunity, and I think it is another point for an industrial revolution, where traditional factories are going to be replaced with new manufacturing technologies. Three-dimensional printing is still in an early stage. But with more media becoming available, and a lot more flexibility with materials and the ways to apply them, we are going to see everything we use being produced that way. It is fun to look at the different industries right now, what they do, and how they are going to be transformed.
At the core of it, there will be a massive global library of knowledge and IT. If you want to create or produce something off that, it will be just [a] Staples [call] away. These can become the factories of the future, where you can get anything done you need. You are also going to have the amazing ability to customize and individualize products. This is far beyond what anybody could do in a manufacturing line. The computing capacity that will be required to accomplish such tasks is going to be tremendous. The appetite for computing and for storage in particular is going to be high, and we will need so much more. What we can do with these is going to be really exciting. I am excited about the fact that innovation is not stopping, and we are going to be able to do much more year by year.
SM: I believe I got the gist of what you are trying to say. Thank you very much, Franz.
FA: Thank you. I appreciate your time.