Wednesday was the official opening of the event. There was 8 parallel sessions going on all day long; so eat was drinking from a fire hose. The keynotes came from a diverse group from hard-core data analysts to computer organizations such as Microsoft, as well as a doctor who used big data to analyze different drugs and detect deceiving marketing habits.
Among other sessions, Microsoft Hadoop was a great session I attended. It was presented by Alexander Stojanovic, General Manager for Cloud Analytics and Computation at Microsoft. He emphasized how Microsoft recently adopted and embraced the open source Hadoop platform aimed at cheap, distributed storage and processing of Big Data (petabytes). Also the open source platforms makes it more vibrant and open to public. They have an end-to-end approach: data management, data enrichment, analytics with emphasis on self service. Microsoft Hadoop is now offered for Windows Server and Azure. It also comes with a Hive add-in to Microsoft Excel for direct transfer of data between Excel and Hadoop clusters. A couple partners were showcased (Hortonworks and Karmasphere) who have adopted the CTP of the product.
Another very interesting talk was offered by Netflix. They went over the algorithms and some details of how they deal with ranking their movies in a personalized fashion. They deal with 2 Billion ratings right now adding millions every day. You can imagine how difficult the problem can get.
The Exhibit Hall was very successful with tens of organizations, large and small, offering Big Data and analytical services. Several smaller firms focus on doing analysis on Big Data for you. Interestingly enough, many of them offer their unsupported solutions in an open-source fashion for free.