How To Explain Hadoop To Your CEO

For many of us corporate life is waiting for the CEO’s door to open and to be inducted into the latest vision, mission and strategy. We respond, hopefully in awe, to the amazing commercial and political insight, embedded in a concept so simple that we understand instantly why they are paid so much money.

But it isn’t always that way round, especially when it comes to major investment in IT. More often it is a bottom up approach of us geeks trying to break down the CEO’s door to let them into the secret of our new found treasure.

Ok, so we’re not always right and, to be fair, the CEO is understandably often rather sceptical and does expect us to put a little effort into our pitch.

So having picked ourselves up and dusted ourselves off after the successful battle to get a major commitment to social networking, we now have the challenge of explaining why it is absolutely imperative that we invest in Hadoop.

“Hadoop!” the CEO will shout.” What the hell is that?”

And we will respond with; “Well our social media strategy has been so successful that we are now firmly in the land of Big Data.”

“Big Data?”

“Yes, sir/maam (delete as appropriate), we used to have megabytes of data, then it was gigabytes of information, then terabytes; now it’s petabytes. We have more information on our customers and markets, in more formats, than we can possibly process with our existing kit.”

We know from previous experience that going technical won’t cut it. If we go in with ‘applying analytic parallel processing to petabytes of unstructured multi format data types to give real time visibility of our operational and strategic footprint; the CEO will just counter thrust with a demand for ‘itemised and endorsed ROI calculations, showing the risk based performance boundaries and maxi-min worst case opportunity cost damage limitation strategy’.

So we try a different approach.

“Have you ever wondered how Google brings up all those search results so quickly?”

And, of course, we all have, it’s almost like magic. The CEO nods and looks up, genuinely interested now, as if they’re about to be shown the secrets of the illusion.

We explain how, in 2004, Google developed the concept of breaking the data mountain down into small hills of data and working on each of them at the same time – parallel processing.

We talk a bit about how Map Reduce, which breaks down the mountain, and Google’s file structures have joined to form the heart of Hadoop, and that the technology is now available for organisations of our size; helping us to prepare as the information explosion continues, feeding in from websites, Twitter, Facebook; in text, video, audio and XML.

The CEO nods reflectively, they want to know more and they haven’t even mentioned ROI. We may be onto a winner!


Source: Forbes


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