Sramana Mitra: In this picture that you have presented, where do you see gaps or problems? These could be smaller problems or niche problems. Where would you point entrepreneurs to look for opportunities to start companies? Where are the open spaces and blue-sky opportunities?
Billy Bosworth: I am a little biased based on where I have spent the last eight to ten years of my career, but I think there is a tremendous opportunity for heterogeneous management of everything in those categories. In my last company, Quest Software, we took that problem of how to manage Oracle and SQL server, DB2 and mySQL. It is great when your technology teams are picking the right technology for the right app, but now someone has to deal with that across the data center. It is tough when we have to go through a different solution for each of those things. So, I think there is a tremendous opportunity for technologies that can bring heterogeneous management, which includes not only the administrator function, but also the alerting, performance, and monetary functions. Now we deliver all of these ourselves, I believe, but when want to pull all that together and you want to look across the data center horizontally, how do you do that? Somebody is going to have to come in and bring all into a single entity. I think the real opportunities exist on that end as a starting point.
SM: What if you move to a different layer? Obviously, the big data problem is being solved at many different layers. One is the layer that we discussed in this conversation. But then there is also stuff happening in the application layer. Perhaps there is even a middleware layer developing or a visualization layer. I am hearing, for instance, that the data visualization layer is quite inadequate at the moment. There are several players in that layer – people who are working on applications are complaining that the visualization layer is inadequate. That seems to be an area which seems to be in need for more innovation and more work.
BB: I agree. Data visualization is very young and still a little scarce at the moment, specifically for big data technologies. I think there remains a lot of opportunity for companies that can come in, help people pull all this together, make some sense of it, visualize it, and make quick decisions based on it. I think there is also an opportunity to do that, again, heterogeneously. This means not to do it just for a particular big data technology, but to give customers and users the ability to look across the various technologies and to that visualization, whether that is done through data virutalization or through your own individual stop gap data store in the middle. That is for really smart people to figure out. There are lots of opportunities in what we call “making sense of the data.” We play on the enablement side. We make it possible to have all the data and to keep up with it. But to learn and understand that data, you are going to need help. So, there are lots of opportunities for companies to come in and make significant progress in that space.
SM: What about the application layer? Are there specific areas you have crossed here, where you have identified something as being a big data problem that could be solved nicely with a big data solution?
BB: I can tell you there is a trend. But I am not sure how and if you can build businesses around it. I can tell you, though, that it is a really big trend that I am seeing in almost all of our customers, even small customers who don’t have a lot of back end technologies. We are now seeing the vision of SOA – services oriented architecture – that has been with us for a long time. We now see that come into fruition very quickly. The reason is that now that you have multiple choices of your back-end data stores, such that you can start solving very specific problems using the exact right fit technology.
But how do you then work in application to not have the confusion of dealing with five to six different back-end data stores? You broker that all through a services layer. Anything a company could come along and think about doing that would help making that brokering of the back end data stores easier for developers to build that services architecture would be hugely helpful. Again, I don’t have specific ideas on what that would be, but what I can tell you is that it is now the new normal for the way people who are building their big data applications. Anybody who can make that easier, faster, easier to upgrade as you move forward and all the maintenance of that services layer, I think would have some real opportunities.
SM: Is there anything else that you would like to address?
BB: We have covered a lot of ground.
SM: OK, it was good talking to you.
BB: By the way, I am very impressed with the idea and the initiative of what you are doing. I think it is a really interesting concept. I love the goal and the vision of 1M/1M. I am curious where this is going to go over the years. I think it is fantastic. It is a great service you are providing.
SM: Thank you. It is a very cool project, but also very tough.
BB: I wish you the best of luck with it.