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Is big data implementation always a custom project?

An expert says it's important to figure out your big data objectives before purchasing hardware or software from a vendor.

Currently, big data platforms appear to be very custom-oriented because they are usually architected to meet a particular set of business needs. Depending on the business, the kinds of data sets that are available and the outcomes desired, the resulting implementation can be very much a one-off.

This is the primary reason why most vendors that are engaged in big data implementation projects offer a healthy dose of professional services. Successful implementations often depend heavily on the amount of research and planning that takes place prior to any technology selection. This, by the way, is often one of the reasons behind the high cost of big data products.

Fortunately, big data is increasingly being offered in a prepackaged way, one that includes hardware and software as well as assistance to integrate the resulting installation into the balance of the enterprise's IT infrastructure. Obvious players such as Amazon and IBM have a lot to say about big data and offer more or less predefined capabilities.

Nevertheless, for those who are comfortable thinking in terms of architecture, there are literally hundreds of vendors that offer everything from hardware platforms to advanced analytic engines. There are even vendors that offer pre-scrubbed data sources to drive a big data implementation. The market is currently so fragmented, however, that the interested IT professional can expect to spend a significant amount of time simply researching alternatives.

That said, it's vital that IT professionals devote enough time on the front end to ensure that both enterprise decision makers and selected vendors understand the organization's big data objectives. Big data is expensive enough that midway through the implementation is the wrong time to realize that objectives are imprecise or that the price is too high.

Editor's note: Frost & Sullivan's Big Data Vendor Guide contains a comprehensive list of big data technology suppliers. To obtain a free copy, contact Mike Jude at [email protected].

This was last published in April 2015

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