For Big Data, FOSS leads the way


Written by David McFarlane, CEO at Akiban Technologies
In May 2011, at the Open Source Business Conference, we participated in the presentation of the results of the “Future of Open Source” survey. For last year’s edition, I predicted that the database sector would be the sector recognized as the most susceptible to open source disruption over the next five years. Well, the numbers are coming in and they’re supporting the reality of a tectonic technology shift in data management catalyzed by Big Data; the shift to scale-out and service infrastructure are led by FOSS projects.

There’s little doubt of the impact of Big Data in the $64-billion data management market. I think David Reinsel of IDC really captured it at the then politically correct ‘Big Data Tsunami Boston’ meeting when he pointed out that the opportunity is not in the creation, but the consumption behavior of media. The top five social media sites currently store 14 petabytes of data a year, but consume 10,000 petabytes a year in page views. The value is in the analysis of the structured and semi-structured data relating to that consumption and it is the FOSS community that has innovated and risen to the challenge. Think about it. A $64billion data management market, but the innovation hasn’t come from the establishment, but from developers for developers in FOSS projects like Hadoop, Cassandra, MongoDB and Drizzle.

It’s important to understand that this shift isn’t just about performance or scalability of data, it’s about the accessibility and cost of ownership of data. Developers increasingly want direct control of their storage infrastructure and they want it to scale predictably and without all the voodoo that accompanies today’s RDBMS. I like Matt Aslett’s term – NewSQL. It’s still about SQL, but in a paradigm that meets today’s mix of structured and unstructured data with exponential growth and accessible in real time. Today’s FOSS data projects are durable and at Akiban, we applaud them and their evangelists for setting the bar high.

Kudos alone is not enough and so it’s encouraging to see the investment community reinforce its conviction in FOSS in general and the database sector explicitly. Matt Aslett of 451 has shared the Q4 2010 and Q1 2011 investment statistics. FOSS investments are up 18% in 2010, a whopping 74% in Q4 2010 and then settling back down 14% in Q1 2011. However, what’s notable is the sizable investment in the last six months in data related projects – $34MM to Talend, $25MM to Cloudera, $6.1MM to EnterpriseDB and $3.2MM to Akiban to name just some of them. In aggregate, more than a third of investments were in data related FOSS projects.

So, we have a large rapidly growing data management market – $64billion with, according to Reinsel, structured data and metadata the largest growing segment of a Big Data sector growing at 60%+ CAGR. Investors are backing the opportunity and FOSS projects are established as the innovation leaders. We are excited about all this potential and look forward to the results of the 2011 survey – and to meeting you at Open Source Business Conference – to hear what you think.