Big data analytics in the cloud is an emerging market though, Kelly says. Google recently, for example, released BigQuery, the company's cloud-based data analytics tool. IBM, for its part, says information is "becoming the petroleum of the 21st century," fueling business decisions across a variety of industries moving forward.
Big data, IDC says, is a big market though. According to IBM, IDC estimates enterprises will invest more than $120 billion by 2015 to capture the business impact of analytics, across hardware, software and services. The big data market is growing seven times faster than the overall IT and communications business, IDC says.
But Vesset, the IDC researcher, says big data is not about how it is defined, but rather about what is done with the data. The biggest challenge organizations have today is understanding which technologies are best for which data and use cases. With the rise of Hadoop, an open source big data analytics tool, some question if that's the end to traditional relational databases compared to unstructured data services, like Hadoop.
"Both have a role to play," he says, and most large organization will likely use each. Relational databases will have some structured approach to the data, which will be used for organizations that have a large amount of data that is subject to compliance or security requirements, for example. Large scale collecting of data on an ad hoc basis is more unstructured and would take advantage of Hadoop computing clusters, he believes.
How big data is defined though, is slightly more intangible, at least so far. Kelly perhaps has the best definition though: "You know it when you see it."
Network World staff writer Brandon Butler covers cloud computing and social collaboration. He can be reached at BButler@nww.com and found on Twitter at @BButlerNWW.
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