COMMUNITY: Up Close
Big Data Boot CampBy Jeff Erickson
An early adopter shares big data expertise at COLLABORATE 12.
Ian Abramson, a former president of the Independent Oracle Users Group (IOUG) has a new title: drill sergeant. Abramson, a director of enterprise data at Oracle partner Thoughtcorp, is an early adopter of big data methods and technologies and was tapped by IOUG, the world’s largest Oracle technology user group, to lead the Big Data Boot Camp at this year’s COLLABORATE conference in Las Vegas, Nevada, April 22–26. Big Data Boot Camp sessions take place on April 23 and 24.
“Most user group members are just starting to look into big data, and these sessions position them well for what’s happening in this space,” says Abramson. Big data is the mass of data available on public and private networks, such as blogs, social media, e-mail, sensor data, and photographs, that can be mined for useful information.
“When I started to look into big data two years ago, I realized that this collection of massive amounts of information was often being ignored because it seemed too big to go after,” Abramson recalls. “I started asking how we could take this unstructured data and start bringing it together with structured data and analyze it. It seemed like a natural extension of data warehousing.”
Store Everything, Know Anything
Abramson says there is a central idea in data warehousing behind the drive toward big data. “If I could store everything, I could answer anything,” he says. New tools for big data help organizations get closer to that ideal goal, he says, allowing them to store petabytes of data and look for relationships hidden within that data. “Now that we have the tools, we can capture big data and combine it with structured data so that a retailer, for example, can measure fuzzy things like the sentiment around one of its products. Or a utility company can get a finer understanding of how customers use electricity throughout the day, month, and year,” says Abramson.
The What, How, and Why of Big Data
As drill sergeant of the COLLABORATE 12 Big Data Boot Camp, Abramson aims to give people a firm understanding of the components of big data and how they fit together. “They learn about tools such as NoSQL and Hadoop and what’s important about each, and how to connect big data to the structured data in their data warehouse. They will understand why the Oracle Big Data Appliance exists, what’s in it, and how to get the most from its potential,” he says.
Abramson plans to put big data in a real-world context. “We show attendees who’s using it and what they’re using it for, in industries such as telecom, retail, and healthcare,” he explains.
Try It First in a User Group
Abramson sees a big role for user groups in the uptake of big data. “What a user group does well is provide a place for people to learn about things they haven’t done before,” says Abramson. “There are usually early adopters in the group, and they begin to educate the rest of us.”
Abramson regards the early stages of big data adoption as being very similar to the first year after the Oracle Exadata launch. “People didn’t really understand how to use Oracle Exadata or what it was for,” Abramson recalls. “Here we are today in 2012, and Oracle Exadata is huge. People understand it. They get the technology,” he observes. “Big data is going to be the same story.” Luckily for IOUG members, there’s an experienced leader and big data early adopter offering sessions at COLLABORATE 12. “User group membership has helped me in so many ways over the years,” Abramson concludes. “It has helped me stay ahead of the curve on new technologies and provided avenues for growth. I’m looking forward to this opportunity to teach what I’ve learned about big data and give back to the community.”
Jeff Erickson (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a senior editor with Oracle Publishing.
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