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Data vertical launches on Gigaom Research

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Welcome to Gigaom Research’s newest vertical channel: Data. My name is Andrew Brust and I’ve recently joined Gigaom Research as Research Director for Big Data and Analytics. I’ll share a little bit of background on myself in a bit, but first let me explain our rationale behind establishing a new vertical area of concentration completely dedicated to data technology.

If you follow technology at all, you don’t need to be told about the importance of “Big Data.” Describing the useful applications of data and analytics, the advantages of data-driven decisions in business, and the underlying changes in the economics of computing and storage that have facilitated Big Data, at this point, is rather cliché.

But there are nonetheless some points underlying our motivation worth exploring. To begin with, the database and analytics technology sector is not new. It has been around for decades, and attracted its share of companies, practitioners, experts and publications long before the term “ecosystem” was used to describe such critical mass in a technology community. The newer entrants into the data space are not coming into a green field area and they are, in many cases, not even solving substantially new problems.

Nuanced disruption
What they are doing, however, is making many of the old technologies more accessible to business users, and making others obsolete. These companies and their zeal to succeed are unseating some of the incumbent players and making virtually all of the others attempt to become more versatile, innovative and motivated to add value to their portfolios of products. That’s a big deal, considering that these platforms and products had been stable – even ossified – for a decade or more.

What makes these developments especially interesting is that many of the more established players in the market are still quite relevant, even as some of the newer members gain impressive momentum and revenue. The disruption in the data market isn’t just about the proverbial writing-on-the-wall that will soon see the “dinosaurs become extinct.” Some of the new players are sometimes naïve, and their products are missing important features, without which success in the enterprise market will remain elusive. And some of the incumbent vendors are smart enough to understand that their established architectures and licensing models, if left unaddressed, will put them and their products on the fast track to maintenance mode and obsolescence.

There is also the matter of the large number of companies vying for data mindshare and revenue, and the rapid pace of change and innovation in the space. In the Hadoop ecosystem, for example, new technologies go from experimental curiosity to standard distribution component in 18 months or less. And sometimes it’s the traditional database vendors that provide the critical backing to make that happen.

Welcome complexity
All of this makes for a vertical technology area that can be very complex to navigate. For me, and I suspect many others in the data arena, this complexity is more exciting than burdensome; after all, we lived for many years in an environment where relatively incremental change came at a rather measured pace. It’s great to see things move so much faster. But the new pace makes it more challenging to keep track of what’s happening in the industry, and that increases the difficulty in formulating a data technology strategy that is properly in sync with market developments and trends.

That’s why Gigaom Research decided it needed a dedicated Data vertical. Whether it be operational databases; business intelligence; data warehouses; Hadoop or machine learning, business and technology decision makers need to know what’s going on. Whether we’re talking about NoSQL or relational database technology; on-premises or in the cloud; Hadoop or Analytics pure play vendors dipping their toes into the enterprise market; or the large incumbent vendors looking to get Big Data-savvy, keeping track of who’s doing what, and deciding the level of your own organization’s adoption, is paramount.

Our approach
With a dedicated Data vertical, Gigaom Research has your back. The reports, Sector RoadMaps, webinars and blog posts in our Data vertical will help you make sense of this bazaar of offerings, champions and challengers and outfit you with the knowledge and perspective you need to formulate a strategy that makes the most sense for your own organization.

As to why Gigaom saw fit to bring me on board to help you get there, my hope and belief is that my new colleagues saw my own history and passion for the data and analytics space as an important qualification. I’ve been working with database technology since the early days of the PC platform. Starting with “xBase” databases in the 1980s and early 1990s, followed by client/server databases, data warehouse and business intelligence platforms in the mid-1990s and 2000s, leading to Hadoop and other Big Data technologies in this decade (an area I’d covered for ZDNet until last month) , I’ve always found data technology fascinating.

With my past background in custom application development, I’ve also found data technology to be the lifeblood of business software and, indeed, of today’s “apps.” Virtually all software applications are data applications, and most every consumer platform is premised on data maintenance and analysis as well.

Data, essential
Dev platforms, database standards and the companies that proffer them have some tendency to come and go. But data, which is, at its most basic form, about people, things, and the events surrounding them, is essential to technology, commerce and social interaction. Perhaps this will sound corny, but data is simply the measurement of business and life. No wonder we want to analyze it endlessly.

The Data vertical for Gigaom Research is essential too. That’s why we’re so excited to launch it today, and why I’m humbled to help shape that launch, and help guide our subscribers toward success in the data arena.