Jim Goodnight: Big Data is Hype

How do you know that SAS has a scalability problem?  When Jim Goodnight says you don’t need scalability.

“Most of our customers don’t have big data, it’s not that big,” he said in response to a question posed during an on-stage Q&A hosted by Walter Isaacson, president and CEO of the Aspen Institute – and the author of a Steve Jobs biography.

No doubt this is literally true; like most companies, SAS’ customer base is a pyramid, with a few enterprise customers at the top and a much larger number of small customers, who use SAS or JMP on a desktop.

Of course, those enterprise customers account for a disproportionate share of SAS revenue.  And yes, they have Big Data.

Before introducing Goodnight, Isaacson told the audience the SAS CEO had all of the positive attributes of Steve Jobs, but without the slightly darker side the late Apple boss had sometimes displayed.

The news report does not say whether the audience rolled on the floor, laughing.

Goodnight argued that “big data” is just another buzzword following on from other recent trends in the IT industry, even suggesting that analysts promote them in order to generate business.

SAS, of course, would never stoop to such practices.

Goodnight’s remarks may come as a surprise to SAS’ largest customers, all of whom struggle to manage Big Data.  Many of these customers say they have suffered for years with SAS TCO, proprietary architecture and performance issues.

“The term big data is being used today because computer analysts and journalists got tired of writing about cloud computing,” he said.

“Before cloud computing it was data warehousing or ‘software as a service’. There’s a new buzzword every two years and the computer analysts come out with these things so that they will have something to consult about.”

Keep all this mind when your SAS rep wants to speak with you about SAS Cloud and SAS Data Warehousing.

For Goodnight, big data is really about machine data which involves millions of transactions per hour and he gave the audience his views on what he believes big data actually is.

“Really big data is what we see machines are creating with sensors everywhere; all over the electric grid, all over the railroad tracks across the country, there are sensors that are measuring movements of trains.

“That’s where really big data is coming from; it is all of the machine generated data and logging information, which has moved from one machine or router to another,” Goodnight continued, adding: “All of that is captured and there are literally millions of these transactions an hour.”

So is Big Data a Thing, or is it hype?  Goodnight can’t decide.

Of course, we all know that managing machine data is a Big Data use case; what matters is whether SAS can help you draw insight from it.   There are folks out there who are getting on top of  the avalanche, and they’re not necessarily using SAS.

When asked what should be the next buzzword for the computing industry, Goodnight responded with the rather un-snappy “I think they should go with high performance analytics,” drawing chuckles from the audience.

Keep this in mind when your SAS rep wants to speak with you about SAS High Performance Analytics.

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