How do you back up 50 TBs? That's a question that was raised at a panel discussion I attended at the recent “Metamorphosis” conference hosted by Pervasive Software. The panel, moderated by industry luminary Ray Wang, discussed the converging forces of cloud computing and Big Data shaping and shaking the foundations of our current approaches to enterprise IT.

Not only are we increasingly relying on clouds, but those clouds – along with applications, devices, partners, and end-users – are bringing in a torrent of data, scaling into the multi-terabyte range for many organizations. And the information-intensive insurance industry sits right on the front lines.

The opportunities for analysis and insights are incredible, and most companies have only begin to tap into this new avenue of decision-making. As Raghu Gnanasekaran, senior director for NetSuite outlined, having Big Data from multiple parts of the business and market environment provides opportunities for finding patterns and providing for visualization of emerging trends.

The ability to look at previously untapped veins of data in new ways may open up new lines of business, as expressed by Mike Hoskins, executive VP and CTO of Pervasive. “The sheer acquisition of reams of data results in a new business opportunity different than the business you're in,” he observes.

Some fundamentals have to first be addressed as well, panelists pointed out. As Zach Urlocker, COO of Zendesk (whom I've had the pleasure of knowing since his Borland Software days), asked, what about issues such as backing up all this massive data? Well-established systems, such as relational database management systems and current backup systems and disk arrays, may not be able to handle this effectively.

Private and hybrid clouds may offer some of the answers needed for the new challenges that are arising from Big Data, panelists agreed. And there is plenty of interest as well from well-established companies. NetSuite's Gnanasekaran says he is getting “a lot of calls about cloud computing from CIOs in the Midwest – that's how I know cloud has arrived.”

Jeff Nolan, VP of product marketing for Get Satisfaction, observed that he see “the tide turning toward private cloud. “If you took 100 Hadoop customers along Route 101 [Silicon Valley corridor], most would involve private clouds.”

The key takeaway is that companies not taking advantage of the efficiencies of cloud – both public and private – and not leveraging new veins of data will quickly fall behind those that do. But your enterprise IT architecture has to be agile enough to handle the changes.

Joe McKendrick is an author, consultant, blogger and frequent INN contributor specializing in information technology.

Readers are encouraged to respond to Joe using the “Add Your Comments” box below. He can also be reached at joe@mckendrickresearch.com.

This blog was exclusively written for Insurance Networking News. It may not be reposted or reused without permission from Insurance Networking News.

The opinions of bloggers on www.insurancenetworking.com do not necessarily reflect those of Insurance Networking News.

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