Head in the Clouds: SaaS, PaaS, and Cloud Strategy

Oct 28 2015   8:30PM GMT

The value of Big Data is big. Really big. IBM says so.

Joel Shore Joel Shore Profile: Joel Shore

Big Data
Mobile & Enterprise Application Development

Visit any of the TechTarget family of websites or e-publications and Big Data is everywhere. It’s unavoidable. Inescapable. IT isn’t about applications, it’s about the data. Think of all the things we do with big data: collect, validate, authenticate, store, de-dupe, access, secure, encrypt, back up, analyze, query, display, aggregate, report, purge, and integrate into applications. Data is so vital, countries and industrial spies steal it, and corporations sell it.

Sell it? Sure. Data has value. Big value. As a developer, the on-premises, cloud, and mobile apps you build are essentially refineries that transform the crude-oil-like raw ones and zeros of big data into information. Information, in turn becomes knowledge. Without developers, big data is like a tanker full of crude oil — pretty much useless, but packed with enormous economic value. And as we all know, economic value is power.

Who says so? IBM does. That’s why Big Blue is getting deeper into big data by agreeing to buy the digital business and data assets of Weather Co., corporate parent of the Weather Channel cable network and apps. According to the Wall Street Journal, the deal, which encompasses Weather’s website and app, digital intellectual property, infrastructure, and data, could be valued north of $2 billion. Weather information can be packaged and resold to a wide swath of industries, including airlines, truckers, agribusiness, insurance, electric utilities, pharmaceutical manufacturers, and more. The television network is not part of the package and will remain owned by owned by Comcast’s NBCUniversal, Blackstone Group, and Bain Capital, according to the Journal.

How big is Weather’s big data? According to CNBC, the Weather app ranks fourth on the list of mobile apps used daily in the United States. Weather fields an astounding 26 billion inquiries to its cloud-based services every day. And you think you’ve got performance and response-time issues?

There’s a link at the bottom of weather.com for the company’s API and documentation, which it calls “a Weather API designed for developers.” (For whom else would an API be designed?) Pricing is free for a maximum of 500 calls per day, and $200 monthly for up to 100,000 daily calls. Need to do millions of calls? There’s special pricing for that.

Clearly, big data isn’t worthless, it’s very valuable. But, without applications developers it sure is useless. That’s why all of Weather’s intellectual assets, which no doubt includes developers and the rest of IT, is part of the deal.

Finally, there’s that lingering question: Can your business’s databases handle 26 billion queries every day?

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