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How small and mid-sized businesses can perform big data analytics

Product Marketing Manager for Data Lake & Hortonworks Partnership, IBM

Big data doesn’t need to be a daunting challenge for small or midsized business (SMBs). Accessing, storing and exploring big data can be done by businesses of any size. An influx of data from sensors, streaming audio and video log files, web, and social media are increasing the volume, velocity, and variety of data. But that means there are new opportunities for well-prepared SMBs to uncover insights and unlock value.

Harnessing big data – data sets of a size or type is beyond the ability of traditional relational databases to capture, manage, and process the data– will be key when to adopting new technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), machine learning and Internet of Things (IoT).

Better management of big data can help SMBs uncover hidden patterns, correlations and data-driven insights. They can also achieve near- to real-time prescriptive and predictive analytics and analytic decision-making for the future. As a result, SMBs can compete more effectively against both their similarly-sized competitors and the large enterprises already taking advantage of these technologies. And this reality may be closer than many think. While SMBs face unique big data challenges, there’s also a new solution that can help overcome them.

Data and Analytic Challenges for SMBs

SMBs face three key challenges when trying to unlock value from big data:

  • Poor performance. Slow data access and long-running queries stemming from older or poorly-configured systems can be a major constraint for SMBs. If the company moves forward with insights based on data they can access within a reasonable amount of time, they risk acting on incomplete information. As data grows into terabytes and petabytes, it will intensify the need for optimal performance.
  • Lack of a dedicated IT staff and skills. Many SMBs lack specialized IT staff, making it difficult when building out a data warehouse. Procuring, configuring and managing the right hardware, software or database technology can be daunting. Without the right IT skills, companies can waste time and money configuring, tuning and testing their systems. SMBs that shorten the cycle from procurement to production are better positioned to respond to market changes quicker and more effectively.
  • Limited space, power and cooling in the data center. A key challenge for growing SMBs is determining how to best utilize the physical space they have for their data center. Choosing an integrated system with a small footprint and low power and cooling requirements can yield greater efficiency and room to grow.

A mini appliance to mitigate SMB challenges

IBM designed a mini appliance to alleviate those SMB challenges in mind. You might already be familiar with IBM’s Netezza technology, which has been constantly improved over the last 20 years. And you might also be familiar with the Netezza-based IBM Integrated Analytics System (IAS) line of appliances that combine high performance hardware and a database query engine designed for massively parallel processing, data warehousing and analytics.

But now there is a mini version of IAS that’s a perfect starting point for growing SMBs across a wide range of industries, including banking, financial services, transportation and shipping. Like the rest of the IAS line of appliances, the mini is well-suited to execute a range of queries – especially medium and complex queries – and provide results quickly. Instead of waiting on insights from poorly performing systems, SMBs will be able to tap the IAS mini’s embedded Spark and act on new information when it has the best chance of making an impact.

The IAS mini’s simplicity and minimal administration requirements are also well-suited for SMBs that need an analytics data warehouse that don't have a large staff dedicated to administration of their IT environment. It integrates a database management system, server, storage and advanced analytics capabilities into a single system. It is also pre-tuned and requires minimal ongoing maintenance, so SMBs can begin using its fully-optimized capabilities right away and won’t be overly burdened with future updates. And the IAS mini doesn't use indexes, further simplifying configuration and implementation as compared with most traditional data warehouses.

SMBs looking to save space will also be happy to know that the IAS mini has a rack-mountable form factor. If you’re interested in moving workloads to the cloud, note that the appliance is cloud-ready due to the IBM common SQL engine (CSE). The CSE includes built-in data virtualization services driving robust application compatibility and data integration, helping your applications work on-cloud or on-premises with transactional, warehouse or data lake repositories. The CSE also can provides security, governance and management alongside its primary data movement capabilities.

The IAS mini delivers speed, simplicity and exceptional value to SMBs seeking to use big data to their advantage in increasingly competitive industries. To learn more and see how an appliance could fit into your own architecture, schedule a no-cost, one-on-one conversation with one of our data warehouse appliance experts.