UPDATED 16:12 EDT / AUGUST 13 2014

Shaking the buzz out of Big Data: Performance matters | #HPBigData2014

gold star a for effort good marks high performanceBig Data has reached the point at which performance matters as much as the technology, according to Chris Selland, VP of Marketing and Business Development at Hewlett-Packard, Co.’s Vertica group. Conversations and experiences at the HP Vertica conference underscore to Selland that the Big Data marketplace is shifting towards placing greater emphasis on enterprise-class performance. He discussed these changes with Dave Vellante and John Furrier during his live interview on theCUBE. 

One of the key changes Selland called right off the bat was Hadoop adoption. Selland characterized current Hadoop use as an “early inning,” mostly due to how many companies choose to use the open source version. He noted though, that there has been “a lot excitement, a lot of interest in Vertica plus Hadoop.”

Emphasizing performance


Selland also mentioned Vertica’s recent announcement that it is making a “strategic investment” in Hortonworks, Inc. Furrier bounced off Selland’s comment to discuss Vertica’s ecosystem of partners, addressing HP’s commitment to open source and asking Selland for his take on Vertica’s current relationships.

“We’re all about doing what’s right for the customer,” Selland responded, “and adapting to the environment that the customer is in and where the customer wants to go.”

He cautioned that while there’s a “huge amount of interest in open source,” many customers are also looking for “enterprise class performance.” Relaying conversations he’d been picking up on, Selland said, “Big Data is at this ‘crossing-the-chasm moment’ where it’s not just about the technology any more. And so performance really starts to matter.”

HP’s leadership will make integration easier on businesses


Conversations at the HP Vertica conference have illustrated this point to Selland: “Business users don’t want to hear about Hadoop or Spark or Sharp or any other alphabet soup — or even about Vertica — they just want answers. And they want performance.”

Vellante mentioned an audience member who had asked a question during the morning’s keynotes about integration and expressed her frustration with the current state of integration: “I’m a business person. This stuff is so complicated. When is it all going to come together?” Using the audience member’s sentiment as a launching point, Vellante asked: “Is the ecosystem, with HP’s leadership, the answer to bringing things together and doing that integration?”

Selland replied that while some things will remain the same — acronyms and buzzwords are likely not going anywhere — he predicts that disparate conversations about performance and price will soon fuse. In the past years, Vertica has done an excellent job of helping clients, as Vellante said, “aims [Vertica] at the right use cases.” But as Vertica begins to build out the platform, customers are looking to HP to lead the integration process.

Selland replied, “That’s absolutely what we’re doing, that’s absolutely what were taking steps to do, that’s what this investment was about.” He stressed, though, that HP is going to approach the integration process while holding true to their core priorities: “Do the right thing for the customer, and the rest will follow.”

Vertica encourages its customers to seek each other’s guidance


Selland highlighted that Vertica customers get a lot out of talking with each other. In fact, Selland’s answer to the question Vellante mentioned from an audience member was “Go ask your peers.” Furrier pointed out that this is a particularly bold statement, because it precludes Vertica from controlling the conversation or deciding what information the questioner will receive.

“One of the great things about Vertica,” Selland said, “is it’s the happiest customer base I’ve ever worked with.” He conveyed his confidence in the Vertica platform, sharing that “when we have unhappy customers, typically what we do is point them at other customers.”

When Vertica customers speak to each other about problems they’re having with the platform, Selland explained, they get clearer, more applicable answers that they would from, as Selland put it, “the marketing analyst, the buzzword machine.”

Developers play a key role in the Vertica ecosystem


In the final minutes of the interview, Furrier asked Selland for “the developer update.”

“I think we’re gaining mindshare very rapidly,” Selland answered, emphasizing that “If you’re going to be successful in the platform business, you absolutely have to bring developers on.” Developers, Selland said, “whether they’re in-house developers or external ecosystem partners,” are Vertica customers, in addition to the business executives the developers for which work.

As a follow up, Furrier wondered whether Selland buys the phrase “Born in Big Data” and the rationale that goes along with it — that there’s a cultural shift occurring among developers that validates the trend towards Big Data.

Selland responded that he believes in this shift, but cautions that developers need to recognize that Big Data is “not just about the technology. It’s about delivering solutions to the business — not just delivering solutions, but delivering performance to the business.”

As interest in Big Data revs up, developers will need to answer questions from much further up the ladder, to people who, Selland jokes, “if you say Hadoop, they’ll say ‘god bless you.'”

Finding clear ways to communicate technical concepts to higher-ups will become essential to developers. Selland stressed that visualization partners will become integral because they have the ability to “not just tell the story, but show the story and show the answers to the business execs.”

photo credit: Pewari via photopin cc

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