Caleb Tennis Strata Conference Roundup

February 10, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Last week I attended the inaugural Strata Conference, put on by O’Reilly.

This conference is about one thing: big data.  The idea is that we are acquiring vast amounts of data, and new tools are needed to harness, understand, and visualize this vast amount of data.

The conference talks were given by people in various data industries, and highlighted some of their approaches to dealing with vast data sets.

While it kicked off a bit slow, disappointingly, there were a few highlights and things I took away from it.

First, big data isn’t just a problem in the science industry.  Every industry has this problem.  One of the most obvious ones, and one that was represented in a few different presentations, was healthcare.  Beyond just medical records, things like clinical trial data, drug interaction information, and all data points in between are being saved away – and tools are needed to help interpret all of this information.  In fact, at the conference the Heritage Health Prize was announced – a $3million dollar reward for interpreting health care data to come up with an algorithm to help predict and prevent unnecessary hospitalizations.

Journalism areas were also presented.  I attended a really nice talk by a gentleman from Forbes all about mining campaign contribution information for the worlds billionaires.  I wasn’t so much interested in the results of the study, but moreso the process of which they acquired and analyzed this data.

The best technical talk of the conference was by Ben Black of fastip.  They’re collecting an enormous amount of real-time network flow data, and have to be able to not only acquire that data, and thus save it into the database, but also give back real time flow reports and statistics.  His talk was about the ways that they failed at building their system a number of times before finally hitting on the right path.  The sophistication of their database (a large amount of custom code built on top of the Cassandra database) is amazing.

The conference was well attended, and the interest is high.  There were a few rough spots, but I think through feedback they received it will tighten up and be a better event next time.  If there’s one main takeaway, it’s that big data is real, it’s a growing field (the # of job openings posted for data scientists was staggering), and to compete in the future, businesses are going to have to start being very smart about their data intelligence.

Contact us if you would like to learn more about our data center and how we can store all of that big data in a reliable, affordable way, for your business.

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