Reflections and predictions for stream computing in 2015

Manager of Portfolio Strategy, IBM

As we count down the days of 2014, it’s hard not to notice the impact real-time has had in our world. First, a flash back to 2013: remember the blackout during the Super Bowl? Nabisco certainly does. In February during the Super Bowl, Oreo made history “winning the super bowl blackout” with its tweet “You can still dunk in the dark.” Tens of thousands of likes and retweets in real time resulted—not bad considering most advertisers pay about $4 million per slot during this event.

2014 saw several more truly transformative examples: 

  • In January at the Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show, connected cars were among the most talked about exhibits. Connected cars use stream computing for real-time results for everything from playing the right mood music to deploying of automatic breaks and airbags based on passenger and driver weight and crash impact. Data is analyzed in real-time and streamed to the cloud to better manage traffic and keep passengers safe. 
  • Datagram_v38-120814.jpgThroughout the year, Kickstarter has funded real-time analytics for moisture detection in soil. A sensor is placed in the ground and the data streams to a real-time analytics platform, letting the gardener know exactly when and where to water. Its real-time analytics for the Internet of Things (IoT), in your own backyard. With optimized water consumption, your tomatoes stay healthy, you contribute a greener planet and there’s less anxiety for the gardener. Everyone wins!
  • In October, the government of Singapore announced they are using real-time analytics to dynamically adjust actions and respond to security threats in their waterways. Now the government is able to crack down on illegal dumping and trafficking of elicit materials. NPR recently reported on how real-time analytics are the fortune tellers of the digital era. Fortune tellers that use data, not cards and crystals.
  • On the business side, in July, the inaugural Forrester Wave for real-time big data streaming analytics platforms was released and is now among the most downloaded reports from Forrester. In their survey, Forrester found a 66 percent increase in use of real-time technologies across industries. Following suit, in October 2014, TDWI published the original, survey-based focus on real-time data and its top use cases.   

So what’s been noteworthy from IBM? InfoSphere Streams saw its client base explode and highly unique use cases evolve; it also marked the year with a number of firsts:

  1. Streams open source project begins in March
  2. Streams v3.2.1 is released in April
  3. Streams outperforms Storm in a performance benchmark released in April, 2.6 to 12.3 times in terms of throughput while simultaneously consuming 5.5 to 14.2 times less CPU time
  4. Streams launches first cloud service on IBM Bluemix in June
  5. Streams named leader in Forrester Wave in July
  6. Streams goes to Hollywood, with the Nature of Analytics Video series in August.  Watch, The Swan of All FearsI Cod Help Falling in Love and Dances with Rhinos.
  7. University of Michigan hospital uses Streams to predict and prevent disease in October
  8. University of Alberta uses Streams to predict and react to climate change in November
  9. Streams Quick Start reaches over 10,000 downloads in November
  10. Mobileum expects to gain $400M in additional revenue using Streams in November

So what’s next for stream computing? Here are some popular guesses:

  • Raw streaming data will be more accessible to business users in familiar business tools like Microsoft Excel (OK – Maybe this isn’t a true blind prediction, Streams is right now in an open beta testing out this feature)
  • Cognitive computing and real-time analytics will becoming more tightly integrated
  • Industry specific applications will emerge out of the box such as predicative maintenance for industrial use, real-time mediation for telecommunications and automatic smart meter adjustments for energy and utilities

Read more about InfoSphere Streams and share your thoughts and predictions in the comments below.