How Does Big Data Impact the Network?

Big Data and the hype associated with it is pervasive across IT today. In its most basic definition, Big Data is typically connected to the open source Hadoop Big Data project, though others have a broader definition. No matter how you define Big Data, it’s all about large volumes of data that need to move around a network.

Networking giant Cisco is out with the latest piece of its Connected World Technology Report (CCWTR). Previous iterations of the report identified the level of connectivity and engagement with the modern network.

David Orain, research director at Cisco, explained that for the report, Cisco is defining Big Data as large volumes of data that resides in more than a single database. Cisco’s study found that 60 percent of respondents expect that Big Data will increase global competitiveness. Going a step further, 68 percent noted that Big Data is a strategic priority for their company in 2013 and will be for the next 5 years.

Big Data will affect IT in a number of ways.

The report noted that 56 percent expect that Big Data will have some impact on IT staffing, and 22 percent expect it to have significant impact.

Big Data will also have a significant impact on the network.

According to the study, 48 percent of IT managers expect a doubling of their current network loads in the next two years. 23 percent expect network loads to triple. Yet despite the awareness that network load is set to grow dramatically only 40 percent indicated that they are in fact read for the network traffic surge.

So how are IT managers going to deal with network surge?

Traditionally, the way that network admins have solved capacity issues is with bandwidth. Surprisingly, though, only 21 percent of Cisco’s survey respondents indicated that they will need more bandwidth. 27 percent of respondents indicated that the coming network surge will require more security measure and improved IT policies.

East-West Traffic

The network volume that Big Data will drive will include what is commonly referred to as ‘East-West’ traffic within a data center.

“Workloads and data will move from one side of the data center to the other,” Orain said.

In order to enable the network for Big Data, Orain noted that it’s all about delivering the right data, in the right order at the right time.

“It’s not just moving larger bits to one place,” Orain said. “It’s about making an intelligent networking infrastructure to be able to deliver a service in real time.”

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at, the news service of the IT Business Edge Network,  the network for technology professionals Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

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