The market for Big Data solutions will grow from $3.2 billion in 2010 to $16.9 billion in 2015, according to a new forecast from IDC. In terms of momentum, Big Data will outpace the general information and communications technology (ICT) market, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 40 percent, about 7 times that of ICT.
Taken individually, certain IT segments will grow faster than others. Fittingly, storage is steaming ahead with a CAGR of 61.4 percent, followed by 34.2 percent for software and 27.3 percent for servers. Needless to say, that spells an opportunity for innovators that can help businesses process, analyze and derive actionable business insights from their ever-growing stores of electronic information.
Big Data has had a profound effect on the IT landscape, according to IDC's Dan Vesset, program vice president of the research firm's Business Analytics Solutions unit. "The Big Data market is expanding rapidly as large IT companies and startups vie for customers and market share," he says in a company statement.
It has sparked a competitive business climate that encompasses both established IT vendors and startups. "Major IT vendors are offering both database solutions and configurations supporting Big Data by evolving their own products as well as by acquisition. At the same time, more than half a billion dollars in venture capital has been invested in new Big Data technology," he adds.
Competition Brews as Titans Clash
With billions at stake, it's no surprise that competition gets a little heated. Nowhere is this more evident than in the war of words that erupted between industry heavyweights Oracle and SAP over in-memory analytics.
In February, Oracle released its in-memory analytics appliance called Exalytics. In-memory appliances are essentially massive caches of RAM that enable analytics and business intelligence applications to quickly query data directly from RAM, generating results faster than disk-based approaches.
During the preceding months, Exalytics' pre-release build-up sparked a fight for bragging rights, putting it on a collision course with SAP's HANA platform over Big Data mindshare. The entire episode had a rough-and-tumble air about it -- at least in the normally buttoned-up world of enterprise IT. Away from these fireworks, several other companies like SAS, IBM and Pentaho are innovating around analytics and carving out their own pieces of the Big Data pie.
However, threatening this Big Data exuberance is a fundamental problem, namely a lack of skilled workers.
IDC echoes a McKinsey Global Institute report from 2011 that sounded the alarm on a looming personnel problem. According to IDC, "Today there is a shortage of trained Big Data technology experts, in addition to a shortage of analytics experts," says IDC.
That staffing challenge could benefit another white-hot market: cloud computing. According to IDC, "This labor supply constraint will act as an inhibitor of adoption and use of Big Data technologies, and it will also encourage vendors to deliver Big Data technologies as cloud-based solutions."
Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the Internet.com network of IT-related websites and as the Green IT curator for GigaOM Pro. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.