The third O’Reilly Strata conference is taking place between February 25 to 28, 2013 at the Santa Clara Convention Center. It’s the end of day two, and while my colleagues are celebrating with libations and conversations, I’m writing this blog from the comfort of my hotel room.

I’m rarely one to miss out on a drink-up. But, the last two days have been nothing short of mind-blowing. As an industry analyst, we get to see a lot of technologies, both evolutionary and revolutionary. Attendees at technology conferences have a common interest. VMworld brings together like-minded virtualization enthusiasts and practitioners; Oracle Open World brings together like-minded database-focused attendees, and Strata brings together Big Data geeks! (Sorry attendees,  but you know who you are!)

The challenge with Big Data is that it includes everything from hardware, through operating system, databases, analytics and business intelligence technologies, visualization software, post-graduate level mathematics and statistics, and innovative approaches to business and social problems.

As a recognized industry analyst in Big Data, there is an expectation that I can converse on a range of topics that would take me from advanced analytics to IT infrastructure to social networking integration to sentiment analysis and “why my distro is better than your distro”. In 48 hours, I have had conversations with around 20 vendors and countless attendees. My brain is fried (and there is one more day to go!)

What impressed me most about the Big Data industry is something that I will shamelessly coin collab-petition. With the exception of distribution vendors, every other vendor in the Big Data space has a need to collaborate with multiple partners, many of whom are also competitors. I guess this is the beauty of a multi-vendor open-source market. Everyone has to get along (in some way) with everyone else.

As I discussed the Big Data market with exhibitors and attendees, there was one common thread. We all believe that the information market is changing. We all emphatically believe that Hadoop, much like Linux and MicrosoftWindows, will be a necessary and requisite part of the IT world within three years. We all believe that the traditional enterprise data warehouse (EDW) will evolve from being relational to non-relational within five to 10 years. We all believe that the open-source nature of the Hadoop framework will drive cost down, and most importantly create new value and innovation in a very short time frame.

Lastly, we all agreed that Big Data vendors cannot just focus on the next generation of IT professionals or the “skunkworks” Big Data projects. Instead, the reason why the conversation around bringing SQL to Hadoop has been so heavily discussed, is because the majority of the revenue opportunity for Big Data vendors is currently in helping enterprises transform and accelerate the evolution of their non-transactional data management into the Hadoop framework.

These are indeed exciting times. For now, I am literally going to sleep on it. There is just too much to digest! Good night!

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