Buzzword Bashing & Database Narcs: The Future of Big Data in Boston

10/26/12Follow @gthuang

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panel could agree on one thing: the database technologies of the past 30 years are no longer able to keep up with the world’s data demands. While ParElastic and NuoDB are creating more scalable database architectures, Hadapt is building a next-generation analytics platform, Cloudant is selling distributed database services, and Actifio is doing smarter data management (it’s also a yogurt brand, joked Brian Reagan).

6. “Big data as a service.” That’s a key area of opportunity and white space, according to Rich Levandov of Avalon Ventures. Not surprisingly, the VC panel didn’t see a “big data bubble” about to burst anytime soon. And from what I gather, neither did most of our speakers who are building companies around emerging database technologies and analytics platforms.

7. “This shit is hard.” That was Fred Lalonde, CEO of Hopper, on why he thinks a big data transformation won’t happen as fast as the Web or mobile revolution. “Big data kicked my ass for two years,” he added. What changed? Open source and cloud infrastructure bloomed, top Google developers left to join other companies, and now “you can start building a company in a completely different way.”

8. “The challenge is finding the signal” in all the noisy data, said Shareaholic CEO Jay Meattle. That dovetails with a theme from the enterprise panel as well as Stern’s talk on Bitly—namely that a key to gaining real insights is looking at some of the data, not all of the data. Shareaholic, by the way, is trying to build a more valuable social graph than Facebook, via tools and analytics for content sharing.

9. “Once the notion of privacy goes away, we can do some pretty cool things.” That was Sravish Sridhar, CEO of Kinvey. Taking the long view of what technology and society will be like in five to 10 years, he contends that people and companies will be open books from a data standpoint. And if that’s where the world is heading, look for transformations in retail, marketing, social Web, mobile, development, design, and healthcare.

10. “It’s not going to happen,” said Hardi Meybaum, CEO of GrabCAD, about the prospect of a big data tech renaissance in Boston. His argument is that companies that own the data and understand it, especially from a consumer perspective, will be the big winners. And there aren’t enough of those in Boston, he says. Let that be a challenge to the tech community.

Gregory T. Huang is Xconomy's Deputy Editor, National IT Editor, and the Editor of Xconomy Boston. You can e-mail him at gthuang@xconomy.com or call him at 617-252-7323. Follow @gthuang

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  • sven peter

    arrogant children that play CEO and fail to know what it is they don’t know throw out the funnies challenges…foolish.