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The Role of Cloud Computing in Big Data

An exclusive Q&A with Dr. William L. Bain, founder and CEO of ScaleOut Software, Inc.

"Cloud computing definitely plays a role in several aspects of Big Data's growing popularity," observed Dr. William L. Bain, founder and CEO of ScaleOut Software, Inc., in this exclusive Q&A with Cloud Expo Conference Chair Jeremy Geelan. "For example," Bain continued, "there are many use cases where very large datasets are analyzed on a project basis (rather than recurring analysis). In these cases cloud computing is an important enabler because a large grid can be efficiently provisioned, used for the project, and then released."

Cloud Computing Journal: The move to cloud isn't about saving money, it is about saving time. - Agree or disagree?

Dr. William L. Bain: It's about both. For certain use cases the cloud saves money in an absolute sense (e.g., where large capacity computing is needed only occasionally, making it impractical to maintain a data center equipped for infrequent maximum use, a public cloud is perfect). We would add that time savings (e.g., from easy provisioning and a ready-made infrastructure) convert into money savings as well.

Cloud Computing Journal: How should organizations tackle their regulatory and compliance concerns in the cloud? Who should they be asking / trusting for advice?

Bain: Each organization needs to assess its specific requirements and then understand its target cloud environment's ability to meet those requirements. Given the difference in vendors, engaging directly with the cloud vendor may be the best way to evaluate. We've heard that there are third-party cloud-specialized consultants that might be useful in some cases.

Cloud Computing Journal: What does the emergence of open source clouds mean for the cloud ecosystem? How does the existence of OpenStack, CloudStack, OpenNebula, Eucalyptus and so on affect your own company?

Bain: We are a PaaS service that we make available in both public and private clouds. To the extent that open source clouds serve to standardize infrastructure, it makes services like ours easier to widely deploy across multiple environments. It's too early to know if this benefit will actually be realized.

Cloud Computing Journal: With SMBs, the two primary challenges they face moving to the cloud are always stated as being cost and trust: where is the industry on satisfying SMBs on both points simultaneously - further along than in 2011-12, or...?

Bain: We are an SMB. In our case, the main difference over the last year has been that our understanding of the cost and reliability issues has deepened, rather than changes in those factors themselves. We feel more comfortable with cloud environments today because we know more about them than a year ago.

Cloud Computing Journal: 2013 seems to be turning into a breakthrough year for Big Data. How much does the success of cloud computing have to do with that?

Bain: Cloud computing definitely plays a role in several aspects of Big Data's growing popularity. For example, there are many use cases where very large datasets are analyzed on a project basis (rather than recurring analysis). In these cases cloud computing is an important enabler because a large grid can be efficiently provisioned, used for the project, and then released. In addition, the elastic storage available in cloud environments is being used to store data sets as they grow.

Cloud Computing Journal: What about the role of social: aside from the acronym itself SMAC (for Social, Mobile, Analytics, Cloud) are you seeing and/or anticipating major traction in this area?

Bain: We are a software company that supplies middleware for scalable data storage and analytics. Many of our customers are actively looking for ways to analyze social media steams in real-time for a variety of uses from ecommerce to fraud detection to security and more. We think it is a clear growth area.

Cloud Computing Journal: To finish, just as real estate is always said to be about "location, location, location", what one word, repeated three times, would you say Cloud Computing is all about?

Bain: Elasticity, Elasticity, Elasticity.

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