Extreme Media Lab – What Ideo, Amazon, Comcast, Inuit and EMC "Make"

by Steve Todd

Recently, I visited the MIT Media Lab for a new form of “meet the students” called What’s Next. I was on a panel with Ideo, Amazon, Comcast, and Intuit (all of us are sponsors of the Media Lab). Each of us had to describe “the things we make” to the students. When it was my turn I asked the crowd a simple question:

“How many of you have the GroupOn app installed on your phone?”

About half of the people in the crowd raised their hand.

Once I had their attention I simply said “That’s what we make”.

I’m allowed to make the statement (and use the image above) because GroupOn is a Pivotal Labs client (and they have been for a long time).

If you look at EMC’s current direction, what becomes obvious is that the company has evolved from a storage vendor (1990s) to a storage + infrastructure vendor (2000s) to a storage + infrastructure + application vendor.

So when I refer to the GroupOn example I’m basically saying the following:

Most of our customers are moving to a model where they want to develop visually compelling mobile apps that display personalized summaries of 100s of terabytes of distributed (e.g. private/hybrid/public) data.

I went on to highlight that the process of boiling down 100s of terabytes of distributed data onto a personalized 4 or 8 inch window is an enormously complex assignment.

And then I added that for many software developers it is a process that must be completed in several days (not months, like many IT projects).

I am sure that many of the students were thinking: “how is that possible?”.  The answer, surprisingly, is straightforward when framed in the context of a mobile-to-storage analytic architecture:

  • Abstract the developer away from the storage infrastructure with CloudFoundry.
  • Bind big data services (Hadoop, SQL, analytic models, in-memory data grids) into CloudFoundry.
  • Provide access to these services with re-usable components from the Spring IO platform. This facilitates coding speed.

Roll it all together and you’re talking about the pivotal importance of software in today’s IT landscape.

The acquisition of XtremeLabs has resulted in more and more companies like GroupOn quickly building big data analytic applications for mobile devices. If you are interested in viewing some of the compelling user interfaces being developed by the Pivotal/Xtreme Labs consultants, I recommend you review some of their case studies.

image credit: groupon.com

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Steve ToddSteve Todd is an EMC Fellow, the Director of EMC’s Innovation Network, and a high-tech inventor and book author Innovate With Global Influence. An EMC Intrapreneur with over 200 patent applications and billions in product revenue, he writes about innovation on his personal blog, the Information Playground. Twitter: @SteveTodd

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