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Accelerating change In data analytics

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Question: What do genomics research and Excel spreadsheets have to do with each other?
Answer: Nothing any more. Thank goodness.

The evolution of data analytics

Believe it or not, it was not too long ago that spreadsheets were used to analyze genomic data. Excel, a revelation at the time, required data to have a specific organization and limited the rate at which large amounts of data could be reviewed.

That analysis then moved on to databases, where searching for specific markers or patterns became much faster and easier as long as researchers knew how to write database queries.

Then it evolved again to analytics engines like IBM Watson, where searches for information can be easier and more insightful. Watson makes analytic work easier because researchers can ask textual questions, more like people speak and think. It’s more insightful because the searches are no longer limited to the information contained in the database being used. This helps doctors provide faster and more personalized patient care.

The analytic possibilities are still evolving and are in the process of being reinvented again using Watson cognitive functionality. Soon these systems will learn to provide better outcomes on their own and let the doctors know when something is important–before the doctors realize they have a need to ask a question.

This is not unique to genomic research. In the last few years financial services, healthcare, retail and many other industries have changed drastically due to our ability to manage data better. Data analytics services and the capabilities that support them will continue to change our daily lives by changing the way enterprises can use data for new goods and services.

The challenge for IT leaders in the cognitive era

However, for the time being, the daily lives that are being impacted most by these changes are those of the people responsible for running data centers and delivering those analytics services. The role of IT professional has switched from a proactive annual planning set of responsibilities, to a reactive “how do I find compute and storage resources really quickly” list of requirements. It’s impossible to predict capacity needs, and speed is required to respond to opportunities and risks as they happen. In addition, the ability to leverage other resources on the cloud to ease the risk of predicting capacity improperly has resulted in a whole host of governance challenges. This huge amount of change has even lead to some referring to 2015 as “one of the most radically disruptive and transformative periods in IT industry history.”

Overall solutions and the tools to get you there

Daily life in the data center is completely different than it used to be and it is evolving rapidly. It is incredibly difficult to work amidst all of this change.

Hybrid cloud solutions are being used to find the right place to maintain data and application resources based on security and governance requirements. Hybrid cloud solutions provide the ability to locate proprietary data where security and governance can be maintained, but allow other parts of the application to run on the cloud where vast amounts of public data can be analyzed. It allows IT practitioners to use tools fit to purpose. For example, while both are vehicles, you would not use a VW Bug to move dirt on a construction site, and you would not use a dump truck to bring the kids to soccer practice. Both are efficient for a certain task, but very inefficient for other tasks. Hybrid cloud provides access to a wider array of tools to get the best overall solution.

This could all get very complex, so hybrid templates are being used to simplify the deployment of solutions. They range from templates that allow secure connections from cloud-based user applications, to core data maintained on premise, to using cloud storage as an archive or data recovery repository.

It used to take days, week and months to build and sort through genomic data that now only takes minutes. Everyone else’s jobs are getting easier and more exciting. It will happen in data centers too.

Which solution templates are you using and which would you recommend for helping clients? To learn more about how Power Systems is helping IT professionals deliver data and analytics services in the cognitive era, visit us here and here.

And read the case study to see how Watson accelerates the human experience with Power Systems.

Distinguished Engineer, POWER Solutions, Academy of Technology Member

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