New Year's Data Resolutions 2016

This is a guest post by Matt Davies, technical evangelist, Splunk

As is the way, it is time for looking forward to 2016 technology and predictions as to how IT and business will evolve over the next 12 months. 

Don’t make a data lake, make a data reservoir

2016 is going to have a lot of talk about data lakes. This will probably be tied into conversations about Hadoop, data ingest, Spark, frameworks, etc. The first resolution is to make a data reservoir not a data lake. No doubt (data) lakes are (architecturally) beautiful but they get created over a long period of time, are uncontrolled, aren’t managed and are prone to flooding. Reservoirs are either managed lakes that evolve or are purpose built with the right boundaries, water inputs and outputs. Reservoirs also tend to have multiple purposes: they can be used to generate power, provide water, for recreation, and so on. In 2016, don’t make a data lake, make a data reservoir.

 Use data as the school work for your machine learning

Machine learning is going to continue to be a hot topic. Expect more talk about algorithms, the threat/promise of artificial intelligence emerging from machine learning and one too many Terminator and SkyNet references. On a more practical note, we’ll start to use data more effectively with machine learning. With my children ready to go back to school after the holidays, it got me thinking that data scientists are the teachers, data is the syllabus and text books, homework and machine learning act as the brain. To make the most of machine learning in 2016 you really need all three – a great teacher, the right training data and a half decent machine learning brain.

Make sure the glass (table) is completely full and make your IT analytics hybrid

You’ve got cloud, you’ve got on-premise (and you’ve got some Christmas socks or shower gel… again!). The next New Year’s data resolution is to make your IT Operational Analytics hybrid. You might have a decent view of how your on-premise IT is performing but have you got the same for the IaaS, PaaS or SaaS you have in the cloud (be it public or private)? Secondly, do you have a view of both together? With most modern IT and application landscapes, APIs, containers and microservices, you’ve got a complete mix or blend with a “bit of everything”. The common currency from all these IT deployment models is the machine data they generate.  In 2016, make sure you’ve got visibility and insight into everything, be it cloud or on-premise with hybrid ITOA.

Get enterprise security right and unlock all kinds of possibilities from data

Who knows what 2016 holds for security. The types of attacks will change, become more sophisticated or larger in scale and the tools and data required to combat them will need to keep pace. Security analytics will need to be real-time, predictive and cater for more types of data than ever before. On a positive note, we’ve seen in 2015 that getting security right can unlock all kinds of benefits across an organisation in areas you’d never have expected. As well as spotting insider threats, advanced attacks and helping ensure breach defence, we’ve also seen the data collected for security be used to deliver value in other business units and departments. IKEA is a great example of this. On their journey to ensuring enterprise security, they improved their eCommerce monitoring capability and also the analytics they delivered to the different parts of the business. In 2016, getting your enterprise security strategy right will enable you to do more with your data and potentially use security as an unlikely place to start innovating.

Connected gadgets are cool but industrial data will deliver on the promise of IoT in 2016

You may well have had your first IoT [Intenet of Things] Christmas and been given some form of wearable or connected “thing”. No doubt that electric toothbrush that talks to my connected thermostat and tells me I need to turn the heating up while ordering more toothpaste is useful –  but industrial data has the biggest potential to change traditional industries in 2016. The whole energy, manufacturing, construction, automotive, building, travel and logistics industry is already in the middle of disruption with initiatives like Industry 4.0 and sensor driven production, monitoring, repair and maintenance.

The industrial data (such as SCADA data) from these sensors will become an important and appreciated resource in 2016 and will help to create efficiencies and value added services. This data will also help drive the IoT security agenda this year. In 2016, look at where you can maximise the benefit of industrial data and think about the value it can bring to traditional industry.