Big Data: The billable project angle

Tellago CEO Jesus Rodriguez discusses the consulting project opportunities in Big Data and shines a light on his favorite Big Data technologies and companies.

It's one thing to write about Big Data's conceptual importance, and the various product and technology developments in the space.  It's quite another to discuss the services revenue opportunities around Big Data, especially for consulting firms engaged in enterprise application development and integration work.  Can real companies, making real money from conventional software work integrate Big Data into their stable of services and tools, and do so profitably?

Big Data works for enterprise consultancy Recently I spoke with Jesus Rodriguez, co-founder and CEO of services company Tellago (as well as its companion software house, Tellago Studios).  Tellago works with enterprise development platforms like Microsoft's .NET, enterprise integration frameworks like Microsoft's BizTalk Server, and Cloud platforms including Amazon Web Services and Microsoft's Windows Azure. Tellago uses these platforms and tools to help customers get their line-of-business, e-commerce and systems integration work done.  This is brass-tacks work, and it's lucrative.  Tellago's not about to do Big Data work unless it provides opportunities that are comparably sustainable, financially.

And the good news is that Big Data does indeed provide such lucrative project opportunities.  Sure, Tellago's work with cloud computing and mobility solutions still represents the majority of its revenue and pipeline, but Big Data is becoming an important part of the mix.  Tellago is working on real Big Data engagements right now and is seeing more and more prospective Big Data opportunities, especially around analytics work in the Healthcare and Automotive verticals.  Moreover, Rodriguez says, Big Data engagements tend to involve meaty, long term projects.  That's no trivial matter: in the consulting game,  stable, long-term projects help cash flow, raise utilization rates for consultants and lower cost-of-sales.

Tools of choice What are Rodriguez's favorite Big Data technologies?  Well, there's Hadoop, of course, but that almost goes without saying.  On top of the core Hadoop platform though, Tellago works most often with HBase and Hive to get at the data and various data visualization technologies to analyze it.  Pig is used, though less often; Tellago finds it most useful when parallelized analysis functionality is called for.  Tellago's data visualization work is done using a mix of technologies.  Commercial offerings form MicroStrategy and Tableau are part of Tellago's toolchest approach.  So too are various open source technologies including those from Pentaho (whose open source tools Rodriguez says got a big boost after the 2008 financial crisis) and a number of JavaScript charting packages.  Clearly, Tellago has not bought into a monolithic, single-vendor tools approach in its Big Data work.

Hot companies Mr. Rodriguez is also an avid follower of the emerging Big Data industry, and he has his eye on a couple of hot companies in particular.  WibiData, launched by one of Cloudera's founders, is one company that has his attention.  Its eponymous product is a full data management and analysis platform that integrates with Hadoop.  Another company Rodriguez keeps watch on is Palantir Technologies, which uses Big Data analytics to perform important risk management and fraud detection work for government and financial services organizations.

Not just hype Clearly, for Tellago, Big Data isn't just a "vision thing."  It represents actual, and growing, revenue opportunities, with work that is challenging and satisfying.  Big Data will eventually advance beyond its hype cycle.  When it does, real projects and real commercial opportunity is what will be needed to sustain Big Data and support its continued advancement.  For one firm, at least, there's very little doubt that this next, mature stage will come for Big Data and its practitioners.