Several days ago a friend called asking about Internet Servers. One of the questions he asked was, “should companies host their own websites or opt to be serviced by web hosting companies?” After analysing the pros and cons of both alternatives, we arrived at the conclusion that buying web hosting services is better. The same question has been asked in relation to IT Departments. Should companies install, operate and maintain their IT Departments or should they outsource the services to specialized IT firms? No clear answer has been arrived at. Today, the question is being asked, “should companies install, operate, and maintain their Big Data platforms or outsource to systems like the Oracle Big Data Solutions? Should they even analyze that big data by themselves?”
First, let us assume that a company has decided that it is economically viable for them to install and manage from scratch the big data platform. What do they need? According to Vicky Falconer, Oracle Big Data Solutions Lead, Oracle Australia, the first headache companies will face will be on deciding on the scale, type, and nature of infrastructure to install. Secondly, the company must worry about the skills of the IT professionals it has hired. Do they have the experience in big data management? “The issue of expertise also applies in the longer-term. It’s likely that the people that worked on building the big data capability will no longer be in the team after a few years. This means the expertise that has been built up has gone when organisations want to evolve what they’re doing with big data”, Falconer explained.
Thirdly, the company must wonder whether it has the resources to devote to the task, worry about returns in investments in time, and calculate whether the overall ROI is worth the risk. If for example the project takes longer to complete, DIY Big Data will delay the business benefits that the big data is meant to deliver. And if there are problems with the implementation of the new technology, this could lead to further complications and delays that will require numerous hours and investment to correct.
A major disadvantage in DIY approach is when breakdowns happen. If for example there are issues leading to poor network performance, the time needed to diagnose, repair and bring back the network online can often take months to solve, especially when taking into account the multiple device vendors involved.
The only pro for DIY when it comes to tackling big data, is the psychological assurance offered that the data stored is secure, always accessible at all times (except when there is breakdown) and the sense of complete ownership. For many businesses therefore, just as it is the case for web hosting services, the outsourcing approach is the better alternative when it comes to managing Big Data.
When a company has settled for outsourced Big Data solution, there are two approaches it can take 1. to install on-premise solutions or opt for cloud based solution. Either of these solutions will save time and money. A tool like Oracle Big Data Appliance can be up and running on-premise in a matter of hours, and according to research by the Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG) and commissioned by Oracle, taking the pre-built approach when ramping up big data capabilities saves a significant amount at money. Further, ESG found that a pre-built system like the Oracle Big Data Appliance could be around 45 percent cheaper than the DIY equivalent.
“As an example of the savings that a pre-built solution provides, Oracle includes the annual subscription licence for Cloudera Enterprise as part of the fully tested and integrated hardware and software solution, whereas, buying the same Cloudera licence separately would incur an annual fee, increasing overall cost of ownership”, wrote Victor Falconer in a blog post.
There are companies that have already recorded immense benefit by outsourcing their big data problems to big data specialists like Oracle. One such company is the Belgian media group De Persgroep which was able to deploy its big data project in a mere three months. The Oracle Big Data Appliance also proved to more cost-effective than an internally-built Apache Hadoop cluster, which would have required multiple servers and software licences, as well as greater maintenance resources. De Persgroep analysed customer behaviour, such as website interactions and payment behaviour, so that it was able to predict subscription churn for its newspaper business with an accuracy of 92 percent.
The Oracle Big Data solutions also come as cloud-ready. The cloud-ready nature of Oracle’s capabilities means that organisation can easily test their big data capabilities in the cloud, and then migrate the services on-premise if and when they feel the time is right. In contrast, the DIY approach will make this a hugely complicated and time-consuming process.
Pre-built systems, such as Oracle Big Data Appliance or Oracle Big Data Cloud Service help organizations to avoid many of the issues presented by organisations building their own big data capabilities — while also bringing a host of additional benefits. Building big data systems is not what gives value to businesses — it’s the value gained through the use of analytics. By choosing the pre-built route, businesses can slash the time to value, save money and future proof their capabilities. And by doing so, they will ensure their big data strategies are successful, both now and in the future.