The Technician’s View: Big Data vs Cloud Services

3.11.2014, Written by Annie Wang

Guest Blogger:  Gregory M. Clark 


Gregory Clark is a Field Nation engineer with over 10 years expertise.


Big Data is projected to be a $47B industry in the next 4-5 years (some reports I have read placed it at about $18B for FY13).  While Cloud Services will continue to grow, “getting in” as a viable service provider or support technician can be more expensive than many of us might be able to muster. That leaves us re-selling lower margin products targeted to SMBs (since enterprise-level organizations will typically have something internal).


Big data, on the other hand, is an entirely new approach to data management, and does not need to be handled internally. In fact, I believe Big Data is an ideal market for independent contractors and consultants to break into. While hardware will most likely still be housed internally for larger corporations, implementing a big data solution in itself does not require a full-time W2 position.  Existing IT managers can oversee the project while independently contracted personnel can install, configure, and train local administrators on how to support the systems. Existing hardware technologies can either be modified, or brought in new, so there is no necessity to hire on a specialized “hardware guru” just to manage the equipment.


For the National service providers, new service and support contracts (similar to those already in place for existing Data Centers) can be drawn or amended for replacing hot-swappable HDDs/PSUs, Server/RAID, installations, and other common break/fix and maintenance items.  This is much of the same work that we, as Field Engineers, currently see in the online marketplaces. Because of Big Data’s close correlation to Data Center and Cloud Services, the same technical knowledge and skills are directly transferable.  What this translates into is an ideal occasion for both Buyers and Providers to broaden and diversify their service offerings.  These opportunities represent precisely the kinds of high-value (not just in $$ terms) work most sought after by Independent Contractors, such as myself.


There are (and will be more) companies who offer subscription-based “big data solution” packages (such as Amazon, who is already offering this), but it is my current opinion that any company large enough to truly realize Big Data’s true potential will be making investments into internal solutions.  Certain scientific, academic, and public ventures will benefit from out-sourced or shared solutions which are perfect opportunities for the independent contractor!


Expense will limit short-term implementation for most others, and large Big Data infrastructure deployments are not appropriate for most SMBs, except those who specialize in data mining and analytics. Meanwhile, companies curious about what it would take to tap into Big Data, either internally or via subscription services, can always ask their Field Engineers.  We are here on the front lines and committed to helping you design, deploy and maintain the systems that give you a competitive edge.


That is this technician’s view.  What do you think?


You can reach me on the Field Nation Platform.