Sramana Mitra: What have you seen in the last five years that are major trends in this space? What are the drivers currently, and what do you foresee will be the drivers in the next two to five years?
Shaun Conolly: I was in the application platform business with JBoss and Red Hat. I was also in the virtualization cloud area with VMware. If we look at the software industry from a high level, four major disruptive movements are going on. The social media space is one of those areas. Mobile computing is another one, as is the proliferation of devices. Cloud computing is the third and big data is the fourth. The explosion of new and different types of data has arrived on scene.
When we look at the industry now, it is a convergence of these four. I would argue that they have a lot in common, particularly when you look at data processing as a common thread through them. Where do I expect things to go? I think it is still early days on big data and cloud converging, but I see that as something that is on the rise. If we look at the success of Amazon web services and the ability to store data in the cloud, or even our partner Microsoft with its Azure service with the ability to create and build applications and store data in the cloud, that is clearly on the rise. Platforms like Hadoop are starting to apply in that space. The ability to deal with sensor and machine data is still ahead of us and is just starting to rise.
An insurance company that wants to enable its customers to put devices in their cars so as safe drivers they can have lower rates is just one example of use cases. The mobility, cloud, big data and social has been on the rise for a while. It is all converging before our eyes and is playing out over the next three to seven years. I would argue that is very early days in that space.
SM: That is interesting, because we have been doing thought leader series in each of those spaces. We have a series in mobile and social, cloud computing and big data. Thought leaders in cloud computing has been running for almost four years, cloud computing has been running for three years and big data has been running for over a year. We are tracking all those four trends, and we see a lot of convergence in each of those trends.
SC: I think it is going to take a while for these four areas that are basically disrupting and reshaping the individual markets [to form] into something that is interesting and useful. If I look at areas of innovation in the big data space, there is still a fair amount of opportunity around new ways of visualizing and analyzing information at scale or deeper and easier paths to machine learning. When I look at startups, there might be typical dashboarding ways of visualizing data, but if you are really trying to define new ways of visualizing some of these new forms of data, I would say we are in the early days. There is still a lot of disruption. If you are talking about petabytes of data that you might need to sift through, tools and visualization you can do to get to the heart of the opportunity still need a lot more innovation.
SM: We heard many times that the visualization techniques out there are not quite in the league of where they could be or need to be. All this data is only useful if you can present it in some sort of usable format.
SC: If you relate it to the Geoffrey Moore “Crossing the Chasm” analogy: once you get on the right side of the chasm – which I believe on Hadoop is in the cycle of doing – you see a variety of things on the rise in that next area. You see some of the more visionary adopters on the right side of the chasm craving innovation and unlocking opportunity themselves. But you also see what Geoffrey Moore refers to as bowling pins, which are not vertical solutions that are industry specific. We are really early days, when those industry-specific applications can just be purchased and deployed by enterprises.