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Big data -- the voluminous amount of unstructured or semi-structured data a company creates for which it is cost prohibitive to load into a relational database for analysis -- just gets bigger and bigger in the cloud and businesses are realizing they can't afford to ignore that fact.
Using very geeky predictive modeling and data mining principles, big data analytics tools let users digest volumes of transactional data and other streams like those collected from Web server logs, social media reports and mobile-phone call records that have not previously been tapped by business intelligence tools.
"What they want is actionable analytic big data tools that give them the right information to make business decisions in real time," Treadway says. But innovation in this space, he says, is random at best.
According to CB Insights, a consultancy that tracks venture capital activities, analytics companies have taken the majority of $1.1 billion in big data venture capital funding deals on record since the second quarter of 2011. These analytics companies include those offering real-time data, such as Metamarkets, and others offering analytics solutions, such as Datameer.
But established companies are also investing in this area. Take HP's acquisitions of both Vertica (a data analytics firm bought in February 2011 for an undisclosed amount) and Autonomy (a U.K.-based information management software firm bought in August 2011 for $10.3 billion). Prior to HP's spree, IBM and EMC had already bought big data analytics databases, scooping up Netezza and Greenplum, respectively.
"It's invaluable to our customers to be able to have the ability to put a wrapper of knowledge around the hordes of data coming into a company through its cloud deployments," HP's Baigent says.
The idea of software-defined networking rocked the networking world in 2012.
Inside the SDN scheme, the control plane gets decoupled from the data plane in network switches and routers. The control plane runs as software on servers and the data plane is implemented in commodity network equipment.
In July, cloud server software giant VMware plunked down $1.05 billion in cash and another $210 million in assumed unvested equity for Nicira, an SDN startup that had lured high-profile talent away from both Juniper and Cisco.
Cisco's initial reaction to the prospect of SDN was called Cisco Open Network Environment (Cisco ONE), which is a architectural scheme designed to enable Cisco networks to be flexible and customizable to meet the needs of newer networking and IT trends such as cloud, mobility, social networking and video. And then Cisco made some announcements with the OpenStack community in support of its open source SDN projects, and in November, the company agreed to pay $1.2 billion in cash to acquire Meraki, a San Francisco-based provider of networking systems that can be managed from the cloud.